Press Service International Columnist Roydon Ng recently caught up with Pastor Kiran Skariah on how the suburban Youth Pastor is giving up his church job to run the biggest 24/7 youth group in the world.
Having responded to God’s calling to step up into Christian ministry during his senior year in high school, Skariah grew in his passion to reach non-church youth with the Gospel.
Recognising that the traditional setting of hardwood pews on a Sunday morning was a major point of disconnection between the church and non-believers, the William Carey Christian School graduate understood that “people connect differently” through their individual experiences.
Upon completing his theological training at Morling College, Skariah worked his day job as the Youth Pastor at Parkside Church in Western Sydney and like many others was an avid gamer by night.
Realising the great potential of the gaming community’s reach along with the prayerful support of his wife and church, Skariah who goes by the online name “Pastor Skar”, is becoming a full time Twitch streamer with a heart for the Gospel.
Online youth group
Powered by a culture of prayer (and faith finance), Pastor Skar knows that his online youth group isn’t the traditional church ministry but wants sceptical Christians to “zoom out” in order to see the bigger picture of the Gospel at work.
Just as indoor soccer on a Friday night youth group is really more than just kicking balls around, the gaming aspect of Pastor Skar’s ministry is a soft entry point to reaching non-church youth with the love of Jesus Christ.
The ordained Reverend shares his passion for bringing the life changing message of the Gospel to young people not just through gaming but being a Christian influence in the online community.
Pastor Skar extends his ministry of support and connection with youth through a number of Discord online messaging channels offering round the clock prayer, unhindered by global time zones with a team of prayer volunteers and moderators from around the world.
“I believe that God wants young people to be all they can be and to achieve great things and so I want to do everything in my power to help facilitate that” says Pastor Skar.
Often when young people enter the online gaming environment, God is the last thing on their mind but through Pastor Skar’s ministry, many who wouldn’t have expected to encounter Christianity have suddenly found themselves in a faith-based community.
The main goal of the ministry in the words of Pastor Skar “is instead of expecting them to come to us to find hope, healing and purpose - to bring this positive message to a technological generation of gamers”.
Pastor Skar sees his work as speaking to young people and gamers “in their language, in their world - just like the Bible tells us to”.
Evangelism ‘outside the box’
One of the most memorable moments of Pastor Skar’s ministry has been a young Indonesian Muslim fan requesting prayer and having the spirit of God move through to relieve an ongoing headache from his sick mother.
“Seeking evangelism outside of the box” through intentionally doing Kingdom work has been a major motivation for the Twitch streamer who seeks to use his platform to reach one of the most overlooked demographics in the world - gamers.
Being a trail blazer in the frontier of online gaming ministry hasn’t been easy or just fun and games. The husband and wife team face the real challenge of financing the ministry without the support of corporate gaming sponsors that have requested the “toning down of the Jesus content”.
Paying for prizes out of their own wallets however has been worth it, says Pastor Skar, who is ultimately excited when gamers “come for the giveaway but stay for Jesus” in short sermons online delivered over Twitch as part of the ministry’s “Real Talk” stream.
Pastor Skar is confident that like the believers in the early church having their needs met, that with the support of the Christian community he and his wife will be able to sustain this always open global youth ministry.
“Having people know that there are people there praying for them” says Pastor Skar is one of the core pillars of his ministry in the desire to let gamers know the love of God no matter their circumstances.
Benefits of a taking the ministry space into the online realm means that youth can always have someone to turn to even if their local church or family circumstances prevents them from reaching out.
The motto of the ministry “Skarred, but not broken” apart from being a play on his last name draws upon the Christian doctrine of redemption in that God is a God of healing and that no one is too broken for Christ.
Pastor Skar can be found online on Twitch, Facebook and is a keen guest speaker at churches around Australia.
Roydon Ng is a Christian writer from Western Sydney. Soli Deo Gloria.