Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Awesome Con 2014



Our next con appearance is at an event new to us:  AwesomeCon in Washington, DC.  As we are growing we are seeking new opportunities to expand our ministry in new geographical regions.  Awesome Con will be our first expedition towards the northeastern US, and only our second out of the South (the other being Cincinnati Comic Expo last year).  The con itself looks to be a lot of fun, with guests like Kevin Sorbo, Jewel Staite, Sean Astin, Cary Elwes, Billie Piper, and more.  There are lots of fun panels and events to keep everyone occupied.  Yes, we're fans and geeks also, and being at a con is simply fun!

But our main purpose is to share the Gospel of Christ, minister to the geeks and fans, and spread our ministry.  Fans For Christ was welcomed to this event when we made an inquiry, and they seem genuinely interested in our presence.  The biggest blessing came when we asked about a church service.  We don't typically do that on our first visit to a con unless we are approached by con organizers.  But since Awesome Con falls on Easter weekend we felt we needed to honor our Savior and make the attempt.  And they granted us a room!  We're not on the schedule or officially part of the con (we wouldn't expect that), but we are free to advertise it.  So here are the details.....

Message:  "Winning Helm's Deep"
When:  Sunday, April 20, 10:15am
Where:  Room 209C, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington DC

If you are considering coming or know someone who is, be sure to find our table to say hi, and spread the word about our church service.  If you can't come, please pray for the FFC staff who will be there, and especially pray for a divine appointment from God!

Special thanks go out to Ben Penrod and Emily Whitten on the Awesome Con staff for helping make all of this possible!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

What FFC Is and Isn't

Fans For Christ has been around for about a decade, starting at Dragon*Con and now spreading to an international presence.  We're not as big as other ministries such as GameChurch, but we're growing and have active expansion plans.  New people join our Facebook group every day and this is only going to continue as we add new cons to our roster every year.  Recently many of our new members have found us through referrals or web searches and haven't had a chance to really interact with people in-person.  I thought that it would be a good idea to take a moment and delve into what FFC is and isn't.

WE'RE NOT:  
A church.  We don't have a specific physical presence or building.  We're not associated with any particular denomination.  We don't hold regular services or minister to parishioners as a group.  We don't subscribe or hold to any particular Christian doctrine that would be commonly associated with a denomination (Such as Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, and so on).  We don't ordain pastors or deacons, or otherwise have a traditional church organization.  We don't have a "statement of faith" like most churches and denominations do.  

A conservative/liberal/[insert political/religious viewpoint] organization.  Our members encompass the entire spectrum of Christianity and Christian theology.  Some members are very liberal and hold to a very open interpretation of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, seeing the Word as inspired by God but written by fallible men.  Other members are very conservative and could be called "fundamentalist", believing in the Bible as God-breathed rather than just inspired, and take a very literal stance on the scriptures.  And then we have everyone who falls between the two extremes.  People's political beliefs typically follow their religious ones, so we have Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Independents, and others within FFC.  We want to embrace ALL fans and Christians and we try not to exclude someone merely because we may disagree with them.  All members need to realize that they are going to encounter those who may have a radically different interpretation of the Bible and Christ's teachings than themselves.  We need to show each other love in Christ, following His example of how to treat even our enemies or opponents.  As a group we are not liberal, conservative, or centralist.  While our individual members certainly ascribe themselves to one of these or other particular views, FFC as a group does not and will not take a hard-line stance on any one point of the spectrum of Christian/political beliefs.  You are encouraged to have your own beliefs, but should not expect the group to agree with you in every respect. 

A place to argue a particular belief.  There are many, many theologians over the millennia who have far more knowledge, wisdom, and training than any member of FFC.  And many of of these Christian leaders have disagreed in big ways on important issues.  Just look at the differences between John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius as a prime example (see a nice comparison here:  http://www.graceonlinelibrary.org/reformed-theology/arminianism/calvinism-vs-arminianism-comparison-chart/).  We in FFC should not presume to have the ultimate answers about the Bible, no matter which stance or position we may hold dear.  While we should be staunch defenders of our faith, we should also do so with humility and the realization that it is unlikely that God has given any particular member a special revelation that surpasses the Bible.  And even with regards to the Bible again there have been many church leaders that have disagreed on how to read and apply certain passages.  Regardless of your particular stance on a given subject or verse, always be humble with the realization that all of these ideas have been debated for over 2000 years and we are unlikely to settle the issues until we meet God in Heaven.  These differing beliefs are what have lead to splits between denominations, churches, and people.  Having a hard-line stance on many topics is what keeps Christianity world-wide from working together and loving each other to promote God's Kingdom on earth.  The leaders of FFC do not want to see those splits within the group.  Whenever interacting within the group keep in mind the well-known saying "In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritis", or "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity."

WE ARE:  
A ministry.  Our first focus as a group is to reach out as Christians to the lost and hurt within fandom.  We seek to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who may not have heard it, may have turned away from it, or in any other way need to embrace it.  We are far beyond a social group and when we decide which cons to attend it's always with ministry and evangelism in mind.  We are not pushy or typical "Bible bangers", but we also don't shy away from the Great Commission handed down to the Church by Christ himself.  The harvest is ready and FFC wants to help gather the wheat.  Our members and especially our leaders should always be aware of how we as Christians are perceived and how our individual actions and attitudes affect those around us.  When we attend a con, drive with our FFC bumper stickers, or wear our FFC badges and shirts we need to be very aware that the people with whom we interact are seeing us as ambassadors of Christ himself.  We as a group want to bring the lost back to the Shepherd and we are not ashamed of this goal.

A fellowship.  Every one of us knows how hard it can be to share aspects of our faith with our geek friends and how hard it can be to share our fan interests with our church friends.  FFC is a place where everyone "gets" us.  We are somewhere that people can talk about Doctor Who or the Apostle Paul equally and have plenty of others who will share and discuss without thinking that either side of our hearts is weird.  Whenever possible we want to gather together online and in person to support each other, pray for each other, love each other, and have fun with like-minded people.  As a fellowship we should be able to count on our fellow FFCers to be there when we need them.  If we as Christian geeks can't count on other Christian geeks, where else can we turn?

A fan group.  We're geeks and proud of it!  We embrace our multitude of fandoms and wear our interests proudly.  Being a fan group allows us to attend cons in ways that a church or social gathering wouldn't be able to, and we want to take full advantage of this unique aspect.  And as fans we want to celebrate our passions.  

So that's Fans For Christ in a nutshell!  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

2014 Cons. Where Are We Going To Be?

A new year brings new plans and FFC isn't slowing down.  This year we have plans on attending some of our old staples as well as expanding to new locations.  As part of our plan we're starting to expand into the Midwest and Northeast.  And we haven't forgotten the West Coast, though we're still developing in that area.

This is a list of the cons we have planned so far.  Some of these haven't been confirmed but we have either submitted an application or are planning to do so.  As the year goes on this list may change as we either eliminate or add a con.  

Remember that the cons we officially attend are based on multiple factors.  With limited staff and even more limited money (all travel costs come out of the pockets of the staff attending...there are no FFC funds for travel to cons) we have to be picky about the cons we choose and tend to be at ones that we can reach the broadest audience.  Nothing against small cons (we love them too!), but we can't hit all of them.  We also have the con rules to consider, as some of them don't allow fan groups or for one reason or another don't give us approval to attend.  And of course we want to have fun while ministering, so staff pick cons that they can relate to and enjoy.

How can you help out?  Mostly we need prayer and volunteers.  The table doesn't staff itself and the more people who help out the more time everyone can have to enjoy the event and activities.  Since we are doing God's work and spreading the Gospel we often face barriers, so prayer warriors are certainly needed.  For our marketing and web needs we always take donations, primarily through PayPal (ffcdonations@gmail.com).  And there's always the FFC Web Store!

So here's the list.....
SCARAB--January 17-20, Columbia, SC.  Confirmed
Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con--Feb 7-9, New Orleans, LA.  Uncomfirmed
Anachrocon--Feb 14-16, Atlanta, GA.  Confirmed
Pensacon--Feb 21-23, Pensacola, FL.  Confirmed
ConNooga--Feb 21-23, Chattanooga, TN.  Confirmed
CoastCon--Mar 7-9, Biloxi, MS.  Confirmed
MACE West--Mar 21-23, Ashville, NC.  Confirmed
Awesome Con--Apr 18-20, Washington, DC.  Confirmed
ConCarolinas--May 30-June 1, Charlotte, NC.  Confirmed
Origins--June 11-15, Columbus, OH.  In association with Christian Gamer's Guild.  Confirmed
ConGregate--July 11-13, Winston-Salem, NC.  Confirmed
GenCon--Aug 14-17, Indianapolis, IN.  In association with Christian Gamer's Guild.  Confirmed
Dragon*Con--Aug 29-Sep 1, Atlanta, GA.  Application pending.
Cincinnati Comic Expo--Sep 19-21, Cincinnati, OH.  Applied, awaiting reply
MACE--Nov 7-9, Charlotte, NC.  Confirmed

Monday, September 23, 2013

So You Want FFC To Come To Your Con.....


It’s always great to be wanted!  And we know that there is a big need for Christ to be shown and shared within fandom.  Fans For Christ began at Dragon*Con in Atlanta in 2003 in order to show Christian geeks that they were not alone, and non-Christian fans that God loved them just as they were and would accept geeky hobbies.  Over the years we have begun spreading out of the southeastern US, on a mission from God to reach out to people in fandoms and traditional churches.  We try to attend more and more events every year, and find out about many events that we hadn’t originally considered.  Unfortunately we simply don’t have the resources and staff to be able to honor every request.  But that doesn’t mean we won’t consider some cons.  Keep reading to see what it takes to get FFC at your con.

Our Budget
FFC operates completely on personal donations.  We are not associated with a church or denomination, so we do not have outside funding.  We have a webstore and sell FFC-related items when we can, but much of our operating funds come from single donations when we ask.  The vast majority of this money is used to cover website hosting, printing banners, cards, and other marketing material, providing some giveaways at our fan tables, and generally just maintaining our presence.  We do not have enough funds to pay for staff or members to attend cons and other events.  So when you see people from FFC working at one of our fan tables, keep in mind that they paid their own way to be there.  As anyone who attends cons will know, it takes a good bit of money to pay for registration, hotel, food, and gas or airfare.  Because the staff pays for this out of their own personal accounts there are real limitations to how many cons people can attend.

Our Staff
As you can imagine, doing geek ministry can be a challenge, especially when trying to present the right attitude to people.  When someone is officially representing FFC at a con we need to make sure that they’re going to treat attendees properly, be able to explain what FFC does in a way that is consistent across the country, and generally be open, patient, and loving.  We will not turn over management of one of our fan tables to just anyone.  We do actively try to teach and mentor people as the Apostle Paul did when he founded churches, with the goal of being able to turn over a region to local members while senior FFC staff moves on to establish FFC in unreached areas.  Some people may do fine staffing a table and talking to people for a few hours, but not all members have the interest or skills to completely organize and manage these efforts.  We’re always looking for new leaders, but currently we have 3 people in the eastern half of the US and 1 person in the western half that are able to manage a table at a con.  Having this small number limits our con presence as each senior staffer has jobs and family outside of FFC.  None of us do this as a full-time ministry.

Our Schedule
Since our staff has to have time for jobs, family, and vacations besides cons, we have to plan well in advance of an event.  In fact, we will often try to plan a year or so ahead.  Because of having to allocate money and time efficiently we need to have a lot of foresight and be proactive.  While this doesn’t mean that we can’t jump into a smaller, local con a the last minute, it may mean that we can’t attend a con because we’ve already made other plans during that time.

Why XYZ Con?
You’re probably getting the picture by now that time, money, and staff are limited.  Because of these limitations we have to be picky about which cons we attend.  If someone is going to spend $400 of their own money to attend a con in the name of FFC, we want to make sure that they are going to be able to reach the largest number of people possible.  Not only does this increase our chance of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but it also can gain us higher numbers of members, some of whom can then be developed into leaders.  Typically we try to attend medium to larger cons (at least 2,000-3,000 attendees) and prefer multi-genre cons.  When possible we will also attend smaller or more specific cons (such as a 500 attendee gaming con), but these outreaches tend to be when it is local to the staffer attending.  It’s simply a better use of our limited time and money to go to a few larger cons than multiple smaller ones.  But we’re always open to suggestions and options.  We don’t want to be so rigid in our decisions that we fail to follow God’s lead to a place that may provide a great harvest.

Okay, So How Do I Get You At My Con?
If you’re still reading, we appreciate it.  We want to get as many places as possible, but we also want attendees, organizers, and staff at events to understand why we may have to say “no”.  A negative reply to a request is not a slight or an insult from us, and we hate having to pass up cons.  But we have to be strategic about what we do.  That being said, the single biggest barrier is money.  None of us are wealthy and we don’t have any lottery-winning patrons.  Sometimes we may be able to make our schedule work but don’t have the money.  If you want us to attend your con, it may be as simple as paying our way.  Depending on how far away the event is from where the staff lives this may include either gas or airfare.  Lodging and food are the other big expenses, as well as registration for the con itself (if necessary…some cons give fan tables free passes).  Depending on all of these factors the total cost may be as low as around $300 or closer to around $1000.  We will always work with you to try to find the least expensive way to attend.  We’re not out to make money or gouge anyone.  We just want to cover expenses. 

So What Now?
If this is something that you are interested in the next step would be to get in touch with us to check schedules and talk about the details.  Then we can try to make it work.

If you are interested, contact us at fansforchristfreaks@gmail.com.