LONDON, UK (CBS Newspath) -- The pandemic changed the way many of us do our jobs, and a pastor in England was up for the challenge.
When the pews were empty at Simon Archer’s church in London, the reverend took his services online. That's when he discovered a different call of duty from a childhood passion: video games.
Reverend Archer streams himself playing video games. "Anyone can come into my chat and ask me to pray for them just by typing exclamation mark, prayer,” he said.
Also known as a vicar in England, Reverend Archer goes by the gamer name Vicarious BIG. He said his new type of ministry has the support of church leaders.
Reverend Archer doesn't just let people win when they play against him. “I want somebody to give me their best when we play, that's the only way I get better,” the reverend said.
This isn't about putting players in the pews. “I'm not gonna preach. I'm not gonna preach. I’m just talking. I'm just chatting, all right? Just like any other streamer,” Reverend Archer said during one of his streams.
As for how gaming serves God, the reverend said, “God calls me to minister to those people who are on the edges, on the fringes, maybe isolated. It's a group that suffer with mental health issues, with making friends, with sharing feelings, so it's a really good group to connect with.”
Thousands of gamers have joined his flock, like Marty Rogers. The two became fast friends. “I can see myself maybe not being a strict religious person but being a better person,” Rogers said.
Reverend Archer's mission takes him places some might think are out of bounds for a priest. He plays some first-person shooter video games. "Sometimes you need to be in the places where people are. And I always believe that's where ministry happens,” Reverend Archer said.
He believes it's what Jesus would do. But what game would Jesus play? Reverend Archer said, “Wow, that's a tough one. I don't think he would care what game it was. He would just want to be with the people."