Beloved Are the Geeks
SHREVEPORT, Louisiana — By the time the protester started screaming to attendees awaiting admission to Geek’d Con 2015 that they were destined for hell, Dallas M. Mora and his wife, Celeste, already had introduced themselves to their fellow geeks in line for the Shreveport convention as believers in Jesus. Dallas also had mentioned that he worked as a youth pastor.
As the Louisiana demonstrator kept ranting, eyes shifted to the self-identified Jesus-following couple.
“They expected me to yell at them,” says Dallas, 38, who is now the online/media pastor of The Healing Place, an Assemblies of God congregation in Shreveport. The protester did nothing to interest anyone in the gospel.
“Their view of the Church is that guy screaming at them,” Dallas says. “No one was willing to go to the con floor and love them where they're at.”
The Moras decided to fill that void, intersecting their ministry calling to share the love of Christ with geeks. Their ministry, Geek Devotions, aims to reach those in what Dallas describes as a “not necessarily unreached people group, but an unthought-of people group.”
Geeks may be defined as passionate enthusiasts of specialized niche subjects, such as role-playing games, media fandom, literary genres, or fictional universes such as Lord of the Rings. Both Dallas and Celeste are fluent in sci-fi, Japanese anime, and comic books, which gives them an affinity that empowers them to share the gospel with those who share these interests. Dallas explains that the unspoken norm in churches is that it’s OK to talk about football or hunting, but not an interest in video games or superheroes.
“A lot of the people we deal with deal with anxiety, depression, fear, and rejection,” says Celeste, 34. “They need the full gospel. They have to know God really cares about them.”
Dallas, who earned a degree in youth ministry from Southwestern Assemblies of God University, had a big vision for a ministry aimed at telling geeks about Jesus. He recognized that SAGU profs already had equipped him with keys to reaching the geek subculture.
Dallas points to the apostle Paul, who alluded to the pop culture of his day — sports and Greek idols — in his letters and oratory.
Celeste and Dallas used his personal YouTube channel for beta testing content that aimed to use geek interests as jumping off points for talking about Jesus. As online pastor at The Healing Place, he learned how to structure a show, including what works and what doesn’t. The couple’s approach plays off their own quirky communication styles that emphasize they’re real people and not preachy or condemning.
Later the couple set up platforms including the Geek Devotions website. They post devotions at 4 p.m. Fridays to their YouTube channel. Their presence on social media includes Twitch, where they host Bible studies at 7 p.m. Tuesdays. Geek Devotions are also on Facebook, Discord, TikTok, and Instagram. They also host a podcast called Comm Talk.
Celeste’s message “Does Your Life Matter? Lesson from She-Hulk” uses illustrations from superhero comics and Jeremiah 29:11. In “3 Steps To Show Someone You Love Them,” Dallas draws from the Japanese anime character Violet Evergarden, raised as a warrior and on a quest to understand what “I love you” means. From there, Dallas explains the unconditional love of Christ.
In August, Dallas led a devotional panel at Geek’d Con that inspired the couple’s ministry. Long-term they would like Geek Devotions to be a full-time ministry through which they would attend conventions nationwide as well as equip churches to interact with the subculture.
Associate and children’s pastor Dustin S. Phillips of Cornerstone Church in Tyler, Texas, ministers to video gaming geeks and livestreams while sharing the gospel on Twitch.TV, YouTube, and other platforms. He notes that social awkwardness often makes geeks feel more comfortable in chat rooms, on Discord servers, and video game lobbies.
“Dallas and Celeste have found a way to tap into people with the same interests,” says Phillips. “They’ve done a great job of meeting them where they’re at and sharing the hope of Christ with them.”