I used to be in a top-ranked World of Warcraft (WoW) guild back in the golden days of what we video gamers like to call “Vanilla.” Those were simpler days, we played a ton, and created some epic memories. The leaders of that top world guild eventually went their own ways and it ended up disbanding. A friend and I started a couple of guilds and we achieved best alliance guild on both of the servers in which we started. I used to spend hours upon hours chatting with just about every player on the servers.
Whenever someone wanted to join our raid team they actually had to fill out an application on our guild website. It was such a thorough application process that would put some job applications to shame. After you submitted your application you had to have a voice interview. Then, if you were accepted into the guild, and we had thousands of applicants, you had a two week trial period where both parties had to see if it was a good fit.
There are some guilds that invite everyone. For those types it’s a numbers game. There could be 300 people online in that guild but they don’t raid, they don’t hang out with each other, they are just in it and that’s it. In our guild, if you were online, we required you to hang out in voice chat, you could be on mute but we wanted anyone who was playing to feel like they weren’t alone. 'Cause that’s what WoW was in the first place. Yes, it is a video game but the game is just the medium. The game provided the place that gave all of us this sense of a community, we were proud to be in the guild we were in and we, for the most part, all got along. Everyone knew we needed each other if we were going to be a successful end-game raiding team.
I look at the church now and see so many similarities between that old guild and where the institutional church now finds itself. It is almost like we’re one of those guilds that let anyone in. Those guilds had so many people “offline” kind of like our directories that are filled with names of those who once attended. Having built two top gaming guilds I know what it takes to create a vibrant team with a concise vision. Everyone has to be on board. If you were on the team, you were on the team. Ours wasn’t a guild we just let everyone into. We allowed everyone to apply but we had only had 25 spots to fill.
Unlike that guild, the church has unlimited spots to fill but are we just letting everyone in without explaining what the expectations of joining are? Check out this parable found in Matthew 22:
‘Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’
And I’m with you, we have been beaten up too much with that old school fire and brimstone preaching but there is some sense to it. When you played with someone on our team, the guild tag they had attached to their name told you something about them. You knew you were playing with certain type of player. With so many attaching ‘Christian’ to their name, you don’t necessarily know what kind of player you are getting. Is that Christian highly involved in a community of people are working towards a certain goal(s)? Is that Christian representing the people in their community? Does that Christian participate in church activities, programs, and services?
If the Northeast was the realm that WoW took place in, then I’m afraid I’d simply just see a bunch of churches spamming to find people to join their guilds. If WoW guild leading taught me anything, it's that you shouldn’t expect much from those kinds of teams. I’d rather be a part of a team that requires me to participate. I’d like to be a part of a team that challenges who I am, pushing me to be better. You’d find just about the best way to build a team in the Book of Acts, in the Letters of Paul.
I found it in a video game. I think I’m gonna apply it to real life or what we gamers call, “irl.”