Communications

Digital Parish: Getting started on Twitch

In this session of Pastoring in the Digital Parish, we’re talking Twitch. Have you heard of this platform? Curious about whether or not a livestreaming platform like Twitch has relevance for your ministry? Are you curious about how to get started and build a following on Twitch?

Russel Dornisch and David Petty from CrossFire: Faith+Gaming talk us through the uses of Twitch and how we can get started streaming. They also share the story of CrossFire--an online faith-based community that aims to break down the barriers many gamers face: social isolation, disconnection, and stigma.

Pastoring in the Digital Parish is your online class for answering questions like this and finding community for ministry in the digital space.

The Episode

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Show Notes 

A few of CrossFire's favorite games:

  • MLB The Show,
  • Rocket League,
  • Minecraft,
  • Life is Strange,
  • Gone Home,
  • Horizon Zero Dawn,
  • God of War,
  • Spiderman,
  • Red Dead Redemption 2,
  • Unraveled,
  • Sackboy,
  • Limbo,
  • The Last of Us (and TLOU part II),
  • Concrete Genie,
  • Planet Coaster,
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps,
  • Brothers,
  • Half Life,
  • Beat Saber,
  • No Man's Sky,
  • Sea of Thieves,
  • Detroit: Become Human.

Before anyone jumps into a game, he recommends looking it up on Metacritic.com and commonsensemedia.org as a way of finding out more information about the game and whether it is age-appropriate for children to play.

Equipment for a Twitch stream:

  • A microphone
  • A web camera (some consoles have proprietary cameras)
  • A capture card (if you plan on running other devices, like another gaming console, into your stream)

Ryan Dunn:

In this session of Pastoring in the Digital Parish, we're talking Twitch. Have you heard of this platform? Curious about whether or not a live streaming platform like Twitch has relevance for your ministry? Are you curious about how you get started and build a following on Twitch?

New Speaker:

Pastoring in the Digital Parish is your online class for answering questions like this and finding community for ministry in the digital space. I'm Ryan Dunn, your convener for pastoring in the digital parish. And I'm curious about how ministries are occupying a space like Twitch. So I reached out to a couple of ministers who have applied themselves to Twitch space for a while. They are Russell Dornisch and David Petty of CrossFire: Faith+Gaming. CrossFire is an online faith-based community that aims to break down the barriers, many gamers, face, social isolation, disconnection, and stigma. They have a podcast and a Facebook group, but they do their outreach through live streams on Twitch.

Ryan Dunn:

Russ Dornisch is the group's Twitch pioneer. So he does a lot of talking in this episode, but David Petty, who is an ordained elder in the United Methodist church chimes in from time to time too. Let's get talking Twitch through this session of pastoring and the digital perish.

New Speaker:

Well, Russell and David, thank you so much for being with us. I want to jump back to the beginning. We're going to get to talking about the ministry, crossfire faith in gaming. Uh, but first I want to talk about the platform. And so in the beginning, like you guys jumped onto the platform Twitch, what led you to Twitch in the first place?

Russell Dornisch:

So actually, uh, Ryan, I came on to crossfire a little late. David is the founder. He's the one that got it going. Um, and he had it going for quite a few years. Um, when I found him through my wife, who's a Methodist pastor. Um, met David at an event, said to David, my husband, you know, plays games. And from there, you know, I kind of got connected with David and I said, Hey, I really love what you're doing. Um, I think we can do a lot more. Um, right now it was just a Facebook group. And so I said, you know, let's see the many ways that we can expand it. Um, so I suggested doing the podcast, we started doing that. And then, uh, after that, um, just with my knowledge and, you know, with us being gamers, um, Twitch is a platform that is very heavily used by gamers to, um, show themselves playing games, interact with their community.

Russell Dornisch:

Um, kind of have a fun way of interacting and playing games together and having your community to be able to watch you do it. So that was when we kind of stepped into the Twitch realm. It was about a little over a year ago. I believe it was August of 2020. And, uh, so we got that started at, and it kind of took off in the first month we hit what's called affiliate on the platform, which allows you to monetize your streams, um, and allows you to get some revenue from the streams that you do. Um, and we hit it quickly, which some people, it takes years. Some people it takes months. Um, but we were able to do it in the very first month that we were there and, um, kind of took off from there. So that was kind of why we want to do Twitch was we knew the community engagement and ability to do that, uh, was important. And we saw it as a way of expanding and growing our online community with our, our gaming community. So

Ryan Dunn:

Before you were online with the ministry on Twitch, where you online personally on Twitch,

Russell Dornisch:

I watch people on Twitch. I hadn't done it myself. Um, but I kind of had an idea of what that looked like, you know, um, I understood how to start a stream, how to do all that stuff. I think the big thing that I learned very quickly from the start of Twitch is that in order to grow your Twitch in order to get your Twitch better in order to develop it and update it and do all that stuff, it was really important to network with other Twitch streamers. Um, and there was a lot of Twitch streamers that are very open to helping out smaller creators, giving people advice, um, lots of different threads online and things like, stuff like that, that, you know, kind of the community of Twitch helps each other out with. Um, and so that is how I kind of got plugged in with figuring out how to do Twitch and how we wanted to do it. Um, from there, it was, you know, working with Dave Davis, more of the graphics and marketing type guy when it comes to that stuff. So he helped us set up what our stream looks like. And then we just kind of go from there and hang out each week,

Ryan Dunn:

When you first got involved, you were really kind of a consumer. And I think that's a good approach because from a ministry standpoint, a lot of times we're first engaging on a platform as a creator. Uh, and you were already there first. So like in the behavior on Twitch is, is one, that's a little fascinating to me because you know, some of us, when we think about like, oh, we're getting online to watch other people play games like for you, Russ w what's the appeal.

Russell Dornisch:

So the reason why Twitch has become such a popular community, it's not just about watching games. And I hear a lot of older people who see the young kids watching games saying, you know, why are you sitting all day? You know, watching people on TV, play a video game. It's not just about that. It's about the interactions. So you're able to interact with people. You usually do not have access to. So there's a lot of celebrities, there's a lot of big name creators on the platform they stream for their communities. And there are ways that you can interact with them. Now, some creators they're so big that the only way you can interact with them as if you pay a little bit of money, um, but other creators, you know, aren't, and they will, you know, shout you out when you follow them and they will chat with you through the chat and they will do this interactivity that you don't get, um, from just watching a movie or watching a TV show or anything like that.

Russell Dornisch:

And then you get to watch somebody play a game that you really like. Or, you know, one thing that I've noticed is obviously gaming is not cheap. Um, and so Twitch kind of allows you to live vicariously through other streamers and other people who are playing the games that maybe you want to play. Um, you know, with the lack of renting games that we had back in the nineties and the two thousands, a lot of people use it as a way of like, okay, let me see if I really like this game, I'm going to hear this person's opinions. I can ask questions while they're playing the game, uh, you know, on Twitch. And so that's kind of where all the community comes in and why it's such a great thing to, to use, especially if you're a gamer. And it was something that I really loved, you know, I have a bunch of streamers that I follow regularly, you know, that I've been able to interact with and I'm able to watch them game regularly.

Russell Dornisch:

And you know, when I'm not at home and I'm out and about, and I want to see what's going on, you know, I'll tune into those streams and get to interact there. So that's kind of where the consuming it first came in and then you realize, oh, it's a great platform to interact with people. Um, and so that's kind of where that took off and, and, you know, we, we know a lot of people, very similar to us on the platform. It's not just us, that's doing the, you know, Christian streaming. There's a lot of Christian streamers out there. There's a lot of people doing different things and Twitch is not just a gaming platform. You know, there's a lot of other categories on there that are available. Um, there's in real life streaming where people Twitch and talking to people. Um, so there's that there's, you know, news shows, um, I have seen, you know, there are people who do Bible studies or, you know, preach on there in a different way. So, you know, there's all those capabilities. It's not just strictly, um, video games

Ryan Dunn:

Are most of those kind of alternative feeds though. Are they really kind of based around gaming culture or is it broader than that?

Russell Dornisch:

Oh, I think originally, I mean, Twitch blew up being a gaming platform, um, and people have kind of taken it in different directions, um, from that of, okay, what are people interested in now? There has been some negative ways that people have taken it and twitches, unfortunately dropped the ball on some of those and had to, you know, navigate what that looks like. Um, because you know, your goal is to get as many viewers as possible. The more viewers get the higher you'll show up on, you know, different, different lists and algorithms and stuff like that. And so that's how you grow and then, you know, you see exponential growth. Um, so there's just a bunch of different ways to look at that and, and different, you know, things, but I think mainly it started and came from the root of gaming. Okay.

Ryan Dunn:

And I think it's great that you kind of noted that like it is really a formulation of community. Um, you know, that, that was the block that I think a lot of, as you talked about, the older people kind of had this blog to what Twitch is, although it really, if you think about it, it's not so much different than what people would do in the coin operated arcades. Like when you run out of money, what do you do? You hang around the arcade, you watch your friends play and yeah. You get clues on how to get better on the game, but even more importantly, like you're hanging out with other people and really as Twitch as a live streaming platform, like it gives you that opportunity to kind of share space and time and conversation with other people is hugely important. So, uh, so once you started occupying that space of Twitch, what was the Genesis then for moving a ministry on to Twitch, specifically crossfire faith in gaming?

Russell Dornisch:

Uh, like I said, it was, it was, what ways can we build our community? You know, what are, what are ways that we can reach out and talk to others and interact with others? The big thing with online community and online worship or online church that we're finding is, you know, churches have small groups, Bible studies, um, all these different things that they offer on a weekly basis, youth group, things like that. And so it was like, okay, us as, as, as an online community, how can we interact with our, um, congregants? How can we interact with the people that are part of our church? And Twitch is just another one of those ways of doing that, you know, and it's a way of reaching others and, and being necessarily a witness, but, you know, being a change to that. And, and so that was kind of the impetus to, to wanting to go towards twitches.

Russell Dornisch:

Let's just find how many ways can we offer content and things for people that they want, whether that's our Facebook community, where it all started the podcast. So obviously, you know, getting to listen to us, talk about different things, talk about, you know, cause everybody has a different way that they consume media. So some people love Twitch. Some people love the podcast. Some people love our discord, um, and being able to, to meet online with us and actually talk to us, um, live, you know, in a chat room. Um, or some people just like hanging out in the Facebook and posting things or commenting on things or getting news and information from that part. So it was like how many different ways can we, um, give content to the people that are part of our community, that they can find the, the, the niche that they want to kind of sit in and consume the content and the community that we're providing. So it's definitely just like a church in the sense that, you know, you have your small groups, you have the tech team, you have worship team, you've got, um, you know, youth group middle-school, you got children's church, you've got, you know, all these different things that churches provide. We're just finding ways of how can we provide it in an online space?

Ryan Dunn:

Oh, that's great. So

David Petty:

Part of the, the, um, desire to be on Twitch for me was around the desire to have a church that really meets people where they are and not to be the church that exists where the church wants to be. Right. We've done that model for centuries, the church that is a building. And we just expect that people show up at our building where we want to be. And so I think for me, it was also about saying, well, if we want to reach gamers, where are gamers, you know, they're online, but they're, they're also engaging with content on YouTube and Twitch and Twitter and Instagram, and even take talk, which, you know, we've tried to dabble in. But, um, I think it really, for me centered around trying to meet people where they are,

Ryan Dunn:

David, when you made the transition from this ministry that you'd started, it sounded like on Facebook, is that correct?

David Petty:

Well, it started off as a, an idea. And I think we started a group of people who were talking about what it might look like. And then that group that we're talking about, what we could build became the very group we were looking to build. It was almost as if you said, let's have a committee meeting and then while, while we're having a committee meeting, let's also sing some songs. And I guess while we're doing the songs, let's pass an offering plate. And before, you know, it, your committee meeting has turned into worship and suddenly you say, okay, well, why do we need to talk about how to do this anymore? We're we're already doing it. So it started off on Facebook as a way of, again, meeting people where they are, because so many people have a Facebook, whether we like it or not. Um, and so that was a way of saying this is probably the platform I think is easiest to meet the most people online, where they are, where they're going to be able to see and engage with content. And it's not going to feel like work, right. If it was an email or some online chat board that was separate from where we enjoy having fun, collaborative time together, it would be very different. So that was part of why we started on Facebook.

Ryan Dunn:

Okay. And then when you trans transferred part of the ministry to Twitch, or at least jumped onto Twitch, and in terms of ministry, did you have some like high ideals of like, okay, we're going to play for a few minutes and then we're going to get into prayer together and people are going to start sharing their lives together, or, um, or, or was it just simpler than that? Like, oh, we're just going to kind of sit on the space first.

David Petty:

Well, I think for me, a lot of the way I've approached this ministry is very similar to the way that I approach youth ministry. Um, that if I approach youth ministry by saying, Hey, everybody who wants to sign up for a Bible study class, we're going to study the book of job and here's the curriculum and where are your signups? I'm probably going to get three people that sign up for youth group. Those three people are going to feel awkward because nobody else is at youth group. So instead we do the time-tested way of getting kids to come to youth group. Yeah.

Ryan Dunn:

Yeah. And hold on that the three kids that signed up are going to sign up no matter what it is, right. Like those are the three that you'd be like, yeah, we're actually going to clean the bathrooms at the nursing home. And they would be like, yeah. Okay, sure. Yeah,

David Petty:

Yeah. They would be there. So yeah. Instead we say, we're going to have some fun, we're going to have fellowship. And while we're having fellowship, we're going to create a safe, fun, engaging space where if you happen to have those questions, you know? Yeah. We're just sitting around and we're watching a movie that some youth comes up to me and says, Hey, pastor, this thing happened at school this week, and I don't know what to do about it. Those are the times that you can actually engage. So, you know, we didn't really have any ideas. I think beyond, I think we had a lot of ideas of what could we do. We have seen a lot of other people do similar things. Um, and we've seen a lot of people try to just take church, put it on Twitch and hope people engage with it.

David Petty:

Um, and we didn't want to do that. So we created a fellowship space and the neat thing was every now and then we did see people showing up in the chat saying, my favorite example is the gal who showed up while I was playing Tony Hawk pro skater and said, I don't understand the difference between Southern Baptist and Methodist. Can you explain it for me? And so then I'm trying to figure out how to do combos on Tony Hawk, pro skater, while explaining the theological differences between the United Methodist church and the Southern Baptist church. But we would probably explore that for what, like an hour. And I hope she walked away with a better understanding. Then she started with,

Ryan Dunn:

I just want to know, were you able to like combine that, um, that conversation with the semantics of the game where it's like, okay, the Southern Baptist?

Russell Dornisch:

Yeah. So, so here's the thing. And, and I love the joke. There's, um, there's a guideline that makes no, it's not that there's a guy online that makes funny videos. And so my past, I was a youth pastor for a short while. Um, so I know about that stuff. And he makes these joke videos where it's like, and David and I have talked about it. It's like that youth pastor that tries way too hard where it's like, I'm going to try and relate everything that we do to the Bible. So it's like, okay, we're playing FIFA and this, you know, I lose. And it's like, well, kids, do you know who else lost? Yes, Jesus. But then in the end he won and overcame death. Let's talk about that. No, like that's not, we don't, we don't do those types of like, tie-ins, we don't try and force the conversation.

Russell Dornisch:

We don't wanna make it awkward. You know, we, we aren't shy about saying that, yes, we are a religious group. We're, you know, Dave's a Methodist pastor. I'm married to a Methodist pastor. You know, those, those things, aren't things we shy away from. Um, but people know that about us as they, you know, get to know us and talk, and then they feel comfortable with, you know, throwing something in the chat. I think the anonymous portion of it in the chat helps it can help, um, people to type these questions that maybe they wouldn't ask otherwise if they were, you know, on camera or if they were in person. Um, so that helps obviously, you know, we have to moderate somewhat because you don't want the people that take that anonymous portion of it and like go after us. But you know, our whole goal is to just meet people where they are, like Dave said, meet gamers, where there are, and if they just so happen to want to talk about, you know, God, if they want to talk about the church, they want to talk about any of that stuff.

Russell Dornisch:

Great. We're going to do it. We're not going to shove it down anyone's throat. Um, you know, we really take the, the idea that, you know, that that's not the way things need to be. We're just going to show that we're cool, normal people. We're not, you know, crazy fanatics or anything like that, that are going to scare people away. And, oh, so these guys are actually pretty cool. I thought church people were like this and you know, we've gotten those comments before, um, in regards to, you know, what people's opinions or ideas on churchy people are. And they are very confused to see, oh gosh, that's not the case. And oh gosh, these guys are playing games that like my evangelical mother never let me play when I was, you know, a young child, you know, we do keep it under a certain, you know, space where we're not going like more mature games with lots of blood and all sorts of things going on. We don't do that. Okay. But it's still, there's still a lot of games out there that kids weren't allowed to play, that the church has deemed, you know, you probably shouldn't be playing this. Um, and we do play some of those games and so kids are able to see, okay, it's actually okay to play video games. It's not a sin to play video games. Um, and then they kind of go from there. So that's, that's again, part of the witness. Okay.

Ryan Dunn:

So take me through the program. When you get onto the Twitch stream under the banner of crossfire faith in gaming, what does that tra that, what does that stream look like?

Russell Dornisch:

Okay. Um, so we, we use a pro or I use a program called, uh, OBS, um, studio, um, and that's kind of where everything is kind of derived from. And then it runs through Twitch. Um, uh, we have, what's called our, I have what's called a capture card. So that allows me to connect, um, an HTMI video signal to my computer so that I can play the game that I'm wanting to play. And it gets fed into the computer, which then gets fed into Twitch. Um, and then once we start going, you know, there there's a ton of customization. It's, it's kind of overwhelming at first. Um, that's why if you like go back and you ever look at like some of our very first streams, they're not the prettiest looking. And then slowly as we started doing it more and more, the stream started getting more, you know, better, better graphics, better things involved.

Russell Dornisch:

I mean, just like anything that you start doing for the first time, you're just kind of experimenting with it. And then as it goes, you learn new things, you figure out things that people like. Um, and so it allows people to, you know, do the interaction. We have a chat that goes on on screen, um, that people are able to see what's being said, you can interact with our streams by, um, you know, there's, there's points that you get for just hanging out in the stream, um, which allow you to redeem it for different things. So one stream, it was push-ups. So if you wanted to, to redeem your, your chat points, you could make me do 10 pushups each time you redeemed 500 points. So there's fun, things like that, that get everybody excited and involved. Um, and then you can also, you can donate to the stream.

Russell Dornisch:

You can give money, you can become a subscriber, which gets you some cool emoticons that you can use in the chat. So little, uh, you know, emojis or smiley faces that are custom for us. Um, all those things are kind of part of the, the stream itself. And then, uh, you know, it just, it kind of works that way. It works well. Um, it's, it's easy to figure out once you get going for sure. Um, but you know, you have to have a very specific, um, setup, not saying you have to have the most expensive nicest setup in the world. Um, you know, I know a lot of people that run their stuff off of laptops and they just do it that way. And you don't need a capture card if you just want to stream computer games that you have, um, you can do that pretty easily as well. Uh, the capture card just allows us to use our console's or any other external video source that we want and to feed into the Twitch stream.

David Petty:

Okay. Right. Yeah. The other thing with the content is, um, we, I think it's really important. Um, we show our faces on there, right? There's a lot of people out there that will stream on Twitch and they'll just play the game. Um, but if you're just playing the game, then you kind of lose out on some of the interactivity of it. Um, so I've found it to be far more successful when we show our faces on there. Uh, and then as far as content goes, we've had some Twitch streams that are literally just Russ or I hanging out playing a video game. Uh, so recently, like I played through a Jedi fallen order and I said, all right, every Friday night joined me from eight to 10, I'm going to play through Jedi fallen order. And, you know, sometimes I was on there saying, Hey, you know, does anybody know how to get through this next boss?

David Petty:

Cause I really can't figure it out. And most of you have probably played this game. And, um, and so sometimes people would interact and help me out and then we'd have chats about other things. Um, but then we've also done some of our most successful streams have been like, uh, live reactions to things happening in the gaming world. So we'll talk about, you know, the PlayStation update event or the Xbox update event or some big game reveal. Uh, and then people can kind of watch along with us and it's a community event that then we get to see what's happening in the gaming space and, and get excited with our followers about what they're excited about. Um, so we've had a lot of different types of Twitch streams. Um, but I think it's the important part is the engagement like Russ was saying. Um, and, and sometimes you go on and there's two people on there and sometimes you go on and there's 15 people on there and it, it really varies depending on the time of year and time of week. And, um, but it's, it's always fun when you

Ryan Dunn:

First started, how did you get your first followers? How'd you get your first people to engage?

Russell Dornisch:

So for me, that was the networking aspect. So it was watching other people's streams, interacting with them, uh, you know, being coming a regular of other people's streams and then letting them know, Hey, I'm going to be streaming. You should check us out. And then they would do that. And then they would send their audience over. So it took a lot of networking to do that. And I ended up finding a lot of different community, whether that was also on social media, whether that's Twitter, Facebook, any of those things. There's lots of other groups similar to ours. Um, you know, we have a couple of things that we believe kind of separates us from some of the other groups that are out there like that, but you know, that networking is the huge part to getting started. And as we have grown, the biggest thing that has helped us grow is the networking appearing on somebody else's podcast.

Russell Dornisch:

It's, um, you know, David writing an article for something it's me appearing on someone else's podcast or stream or whatever it is it's interacting with other people's communities. And then them realizing, oh, there's this other community very similar to this out there. I would love to join and be a part of it as well. Um, and so that's kinda been the big part of how we grew, um, was I just, I worked really hard that first month to just network and find other, you know, communities out there that were looking to grow other small streamers and you help each other out. Um, and you know, it's interesting because a lot of the small streamers that I started off with that helped me grow are no longer streaming. You know, that's probably the hardest thing is there's a lot of stream burnout. Um, it's, it's, it's both being busy.

Russell Dornisch:

Um, you don't want video games to become a job or a chore. Um, you know, a lot of us game because it's an outlet, it is a way for us to, you know, do self care. And when it no longer becomes that, and it becomes a job and an issue, then it becomes hard to actually pick up a game and do that. And I've even run into that in the last year, a couple of times, you know, or I had to take a small break because I'm like, I'm just, I'm, I'm, I'm not looking forward to streaming. I'm not looking forward to playing games right now. So I'm going to take a break from that. But you know, that, that networking is the huge aspect of how you grow that community. And then from there, it's word of mouth, it's, you know, social media platforms, you really have to pump up the different social media platforms.

Russell Dornisch:

It really takes a, a, almost like a throwing a hundred darts at the dart board and, and one dart, you know, bring somebody in that's great. And there you go. It's, it's honestly what I think the church should be doing a lot more of, um, as a whole, uh, you know, we, I don't think we do enough to interact on all the different platforms that are available. There's so many different people that only use one specific platform. You know, Facebook has kind of phased away and has become the old person's platform. If you want to, if you want to get youth into whatever it is you're doing, it's, you know, Instagram, Snapchat, tick talk, like all these other social media platforms that are available out there. And by being able to communicate on every single one of them, it is that whole mass marketing idea of, I am just going to reach everybody in as much as I can to try and pull them into what I'm doing. And so until you actually do that, you're not, you're going to see stagnant growth. You're going to have issues because there are groups of people out there that are not hearing about what it is you're doing.

David Petty:

Okay. Yeah. I think for me, there's two big things. Um, and Russ, I want to key off what you said, um, that so often a lot of Twitch streamers, I see do the same thing that our churches do, where they, they go off of the attraction model that says I'm going to have a really cool stream. And because it's going to be really cool, everybody's going to know about it and just show up because they're going to know that it's really, really amazing. Um, but of course, if you don't actually invite people to it, then nobody's gonna know nobody's going to show up. Then you're going to feel like man, I'm streaming here for four hours and there's only one person on, and I, you know, I'm just not even sure why I'm doing this anymore. Um, so I think there's two things. I think the first is we have to be invitational, right?

David Petty:

We have to go out to where people are, let them know what we're doing, why we're doing it, and then invite them along, right. Invite them along for the journey. The second piece I think is really important is consistency. Um, when we've been able to set up a time and say, we're going to stream every Friday night throughout this month, we see more and more success with those streams than if we're like, oh, Hey, everybody we're streaming tomorrow. Uh, the same thing is true with the church. What if we just had random worship services throughout the week and just throw out an invitation a couple of days before and say, Hey guys, we're gonna have a worship service. Hope you can be there. We wouldn't get anybody, but you know, hopefully most people know Sunday morning, 9:00 AM or 10:00 AM. Whenever your church services. There's something about the consistency that I think the consistency paired with the invitation, uh, finds more success.

David Petty:

And I wanted to say one last thing before I let you jump back in a tiny, fun, funny story about my first interaction with Twitch. Uh, I was sitting on an airplane in 2015, 14, something like that. I'm flying to Denver, um, for something I can't even remember. And I was talking to this guy next to me and he said, oh, you know, you moving Denver. And I said, yeah, we're going, you know, we're moving out there. And I said, are you moving out here? And he said, yeah, I'm moving out there. Uh, I said, why? He said, I'm moving there so that I have good internet. Cause I heard they have really good internet in Colorado. I said, well, that's strange. You know, what do you do for work that you need good internet? And he said, well, I'm a, I'm a gamer. And I said, what does, what?

David Petty:

Explain that to me. Why do you need good internet to be a gamer? He said, I stream on this platform called Twitch. And he told me about Twitch was the first time I had ever really heard of it. And I said, okay, cool. What's, what's your name? I wrote it down. Well, his name is law review. Um, I wouldn't recommend him as a Christian streamer, but LOL while you've just got like 280,000 followers guy makes a full-time living and then some live streaming on Twitch because he's funny, he's engaging. And you know, in here, little did I know I'm sitting next to like a, a relative Twitch celebrity. Who's just, you know, moving to Colorado for good internet. But I asked him, I said, do you ever feel like it's a job? Because he was telling me about the agreement that once you reach a certain level, you have to maintain a certain number of streams to actually stay at that level with Twitch.

David Petty:

Um, and he said, yeah, there's days that I, because I stream this one particular game and that's what I'm known for. He's like, everybody shows up to my stream wanting to see that particular game, but there's days I want to play other things, but nobody wants to see that. So he's like, there are definitely days that I show up and it feels like just a drag to have to do this thing. So I would definitely caution, like Russ was saying anybody who wants to get into this be careful. Right. Don't think you're just going to hop on and it's going to be the exact same thing as when you're gaming in your pajamas at home and nobody's watching, it's a lot of work. Um, yeah. And

Ryan Dunn:

That this challenge that you threw before us, that seems so poignant for the church of like, not just setting it up and inviting people to come. But the fact that, I mean, this is really kind of played out in this great anecdote of needing to go out into the other space and be, you know, like be a participant alongside other people before you come and ask people to be a participant with you. Uh, like, yeah. That is a good message for the church to hear. For sure. Yeah. Well, so as you have explored the Twitch space, uh, what are some other ways that you see a community coalescing around Twitch? I guess particularly if we're going to be real direct for our audience, like Christian community coalescing around Twitch, like what are other ministries using it for?

Russell Dornisch:

Um, so, you know, we're, we're friends with a bunch of different, we know of two other Methodist ministries that are set up with Twitch. Um, crossfire, uh, is just one of them. Then you've got, uh, checkpoint church with Nathan web. Um, and then also we have Methodist gaming. Um, so we have a few that we know of directly that are, you know, using it for their platforms. Uh, I know that Nate at checkpoint uses it for a bunch of different things. It's not just games, you know, he does different devotions and things like that that have live premiere on Twitch and then be there to, you know, talk to his community. It's a way that he's found to be able to live stream, you know, kind of an event or a video or something that he's dropping. Um, and then Methodist gaming, you know, they, they mostly just play games, but they really invite the younger audience.

Russell Dornisch:

They really make it about, you know, a lot of the original people that followed them and started, you know, hanging out with them where kids from their youth group, because one of them is, um, a youth pastor, uh, in Virginia. So, you know, those groups are kind of doing the same thing. There there's a lot of different ways we could use it. I mean, like I said, Twitch's expanded a lot to what it is. Um, do I think somebody could, uh, succeed at just literally putting church service on Twitch and that'd be a thing, uh, I I'm assuming you could, I don't know if that's the platform I would use it for, and that would be the thing I use it for. There's other platforms that are, I think more, um, you know, directed towards that sort of thing versus Twitch being a little bit more gamer focused. If you have some kind of gaming angle to it that might help you a little bit. Um, but as far as, you know, other things go for the most part, we've just been focusing on, you know, the playing games and, and growing our community aspect of it.

David Petty:

Okay. And I do know that there's, there's a few other folks out there who've been doing it for a long time. Um, especially more in the evangelical space. Yeah. Um, th there there's some folks out there who like literally just use it to, to live stream, like a church for gamers. Um, I remember one of the first ones I stumbled across, uh, it was called God's squad church. Uh, it was very jealous cause they've got a catchy name, but know they've got like 7,000 followers it's of the mega church of, of gaming churches in this space. Um, but I, I will say, I think what we offer is very different than that. Um, and I, I think there's very few of us that are in the non-evangelical space. Um, you know, a little bit more, I don't even know what term to use, um, but a little bit more broad theology than, than the stuff that was out there a while ago. Okay.

Ryan Dunn:

Or Russ, you brought up some of the technical aspects of what we would need to get started on Twitch. And I just want to kind of run through that again, so, okay. Um, as far as like doing a simple stream with, um, you know, game and your face present, uh, what are we going to need to do with,

Russell Dornisch:

Um, so at minimum, you're going to need a decently powered laptop. Um, a lot of that's going to have to do, and, and if we want to get really nerdy and technical, I can do that. Um, you're looking at your, you, you want a decent amount of Ram. You need at least a pretty good, um, CPU to be able to, to multitask with the Ram. Um, and then on top of that, you probably want some kind of graphics card. If you're going to try and play games on said computer, um, a computer needs that to even be able to run a game. So the big problem that some people run into is it's a lot of, of struggle on your computer to be able to, I mean, you're streaming, you're videotaping, which you do need a, uh, some kind of webcam, and then you're playing a video game.

Russell Dornisch:

So you're doing three V very heavy work, um, loaded things that your computer needs. And so you do need a decently powered computer. You can always test it. Um, there's ways to test what you're capable of. Your computer is capable of. Um, there's different tests out there for you to be able to do that. Um, but if you just want a really basic, and I go back to even talking to Methodist gaming, they're running laptops with just, you know, quick, you know, camera and a controller attached to the laptop. And that's, you know, that's about it. They're going very basic. Whereas David and I, we both have built our own computers. So we've built some pretty powerful computers that are able to run, um, the software and the games and all that. And then of course, like I said, if you want to play non-computer games, which sometimes that can help too.

Russell Dornisch:

Um, because then your computer's not being drugged down by having to run the game on itself. Um, you connect it to a PlayStation and Xbox, a Nintendo switch, um, any console that has a video out, you can connect it to a capture card and then feed it into your computer, which then can go to Twitch. Now, there are some other ways to do that. A lot of the video game consoles nowadays actually have streaming built into them. So you can get a camera for your Xbox, your PlayStation, and you can just connect, connect it through there. And then you can just do a very bare bones, basic stream through your console, to Twitch, to YouTube, um, the different, you know, channels that they use. And that's kind of very bare bones, basic stuff. You're not going to have a lot of the extra overlays that we have, which is the graphics packages and things like that. That's all done by the computer, whereas on the consoles, it's just very, very basic and they're able to function and do it. So

Ryan Dunn:

You're not going to get your face on there either. Are you like the only, the only video you're going to show is of the gaming platform? Is that right? Yeah.

Russell Dornisch:

You can get a camera. There are cameras for the consoles that allow you to put your face on there. Right. Um, so PlayStation has a camera X-Box had connect, which was their camera and that allowed you to show your face. Um, so you would need to purchase the camera. Um, for those console's very specific cameras. It does. Doesn't take any old camera, whereas, um, for streaming on the computer, you just take any old webcam. Um, the one I use is the one that most people use, which is the, the logic tech, uh, see something, something it was out of

Ryan Dunn:

Study.

Russell Dornisch:

Yep, exactly. It was out of stock for almost the whole pandemic because everybody was buying them for all their meetings, but it's probably the best camera on the market. That's just an easy plug and play. Obviously some of the bigger streamers they've got lights and, you know, and I have a green screen. Dave has a green screen that helps as well streaming, you know, there's a lot of things you can do to upgrade your stream. But if we're just talking about basics, you know, laptop, camera, maybe a capture card, otherwise, you know, that's pretty much it.

David Petty:

I also want to throw out a microphone if you have an external microphone, sorry. Uh, can be very helpful. Uh, you know, it's the difference between people hearing what you're saying and people hearing the whole sound of your room and you can get, uh, you know, the, the Yeti microphone, the blue Yetis, the blue microphones, um, there's a lot of podcasting microphones. Uh, there's even stuff that you can just take a normal like church microphone and turn it into a USB mic and, and you can use it just like that. Uh, I also just want to echo one thing that Russ said and give a shout out to the software we use, which is O B S stands for open broadcast software. Uh, and I actually, before we ever got set up on Twitch with crossfire, I started using OBS just in my church streaming as a way of bringing in the live feed from a camera. And this was back in 2017, uh, bringing a live stream in from the camera and bringing in the worship lyrics and to overlay the two and then give a feed out to YouTube or record it or wherever else you wanted to put it. So, uh, and I love it because it's free, it's open source. It takes a little bit to learn. It's not too tough, but, uh, it does a lot. And it's the best thing I've seen for the price, which again is free. Yeah.

Ryan Dunn:

The number of churches that are using it for their live streams now. And I think that the, uh, the price point was the selling point. Yeah,

Russell Dornisch:

It is. And surprisingly, it works for the price. Now, most of the time when we're talking about computer software, you're better off paying the money. If you want a specific software to, to do something. Um, when they say it's free, there's always a catch usually. Uh, fortunately OBS there's no catches. Cool.

Ryan Dunn:

Well, Russ and David, thank you so much for being with us and teaching us about Twitch. When I, next time I drop onto Twitch, like, what am I going to search out to find your next stream?

Russell Dornisch:

Um, just search for us on, on, uh, Twitch, crossfire podcast, all one word. Um, you can also find all of our socials, the Twitch streams, everything you can find at our website, um, which is, uh, crossfire cast.com or even easier church for gamers.com. So head over there, we have a YouTube channel as well, that archives all of our past streams, as well as some other video features. And our podcast is there as well. And then all the wonderful podcast, um, platforms we're on as well. So crossfire podcasts, you look for that almost anywhere. You're going to find us,

David Petty:

Want to give a really quick update for anybody that wants to support us, um, and the work that we're doing, but doesn't want to spend any extra money. Uh, one of the coolest things is that because Twitch is now owned by Amazon. If you have an Amazon prime account, when you sign up for a Twitch account, you can link your Amazon prime account to Twitch, and then you get a free subscription to any content creator that you want. So normally, if you want to subscribe to a content creator, it would cost you five bucks. Well, with the Amazon prime thing, you can sign up for free. And the nice thing is when you do that, if you subscribe to crossfire faith in gaming with your Amazon prime subscription, uh, we get $2 and 50 cents for that subscription. It only goes for the month you got to re-up it every month.

David Petty:

But you know, it's a way that a lot of, um, we've actually received a lot of support so far for the work that we're doing, uh, because people already have their Amazon prime account. And if they don't follow a lot of people on Twitch, they can go and subscribe. We've even had a couple of churches that do that because they've got a church, Amazon prime account sign up for a Twitch account. You don't have to watch us or follow us, just hit the subscribe button and suddenly we get some support. So I wanted to throw that out there and we do have fundraisers all the time on our stuff. We didn't even talk about that. That one of the primary ways we use Twitch is to fundraise for charities. So right now we're fundraising for extra life, which is a charity that gives, uh, money to children's hospitals. Uh, and we've fundraised for a bunch of different stuff in the past. Um, one of my favorites is able gamers charity that helps out, uh, kids with disabilities have access to video games. So that's another really cool way to use Twitch is as a fundraising vehicle for charitable donations. Yeah.

Ryan Dunn:

Well, let's go there for just a second. Let's be, this'll be like a bonus segment kind of the, well, no, I was curious about this because, uh, early on you mentioned that you got like an affiliate status right away and, um, you know,

David Petty:

Oh, Russ, by the way, got it. I gotta give props where props are due rested all of the legwork to make that happen. I just back and

Russell Dornisch:

Said, wow, look, we got our stuff, you know?

Ryan Dunn:

And so we're, we're affiliates now yet. What is affiliate status and how do you get up to that,

Russell Dornisch:

That status? Yeah. So affiliates the first step there's, uh, there's three steps. They're just a regular, um, Twitch streamer, then there's affiliate. And then there's partner affiliate means that you can actually monetize and get subscriptions before that you can't get subscriptions. You can't charge for anything. Nobody can donate tips or anything like that, that they can do in a normal Twitch stream to become affiliate. You have to average every stream, at least three people watching. You have to stream for a certain number of hours in the period that you are averaging three people per stream, and then you have to hit 50 followers on your account. So once those, the things are met, we hit affiliate status partner is a lot crazier because you do get a lot more benefits when you hit that one. So you have to average 75 people watching per stream.

Russell Dornisch:

You have to stream for a very long amount of time. And then you have to be, I think at like 500 followers in order to hit partner. And that partner is the level that David was talking about is you have to then maintain those stats going forward. And from that you get a bigger piece of your subs. Um, you also get promoted by Twitch. More, you get invited to different things through Twitch. You become almost an, a minor employee of Twitch when you become partner. That's. I mean, if you can hit partner, you are probably streaming full time. That is the only way you're going to hit partner. Um, so yeah, hitting affiliate allows us to monetize our streams. And when we say monetize, it's not like David and I are pocketing this money and we're, we're living the big life. Um, we've actually just used the platform and that affiliate status to raise funds for different charities and things like that.

Russell Dornisch:

Because right now, you know, this ministry is not a full-time ministry yet. It is just getting off the ground. And so rather than, you know, try and put this money to one thing or another, we said, okay, we're going to right now just focus on raising money for different charities, becoming that sort of group and seeing where we go from there. Um, and almost seeing if we can become almost like video game Christian missionaries as what we've talked about. Um, and so that's what we're kind of working on right now. We've done a lot of great things like Dave said, um, extra life's an awesome, awesome, uh, video game charity that gives money to children's hospitals for a very specific thing, which is to try and get games in the hands of the kids in the hospital, because gaming is pretty much the only thing those kids can do.

Russell Dornisch:

A lot of them are so sick that they're, you know, stuck in bed and gaming gives them a great outlet to, you know, transport themselves to some other world, get to experience something else, get to pass the time while they're doing different things. It's a really awesome charity. The cool thing with extra life is you get to pick which children's hospital you support. So we're local. Um, so we did, uh, children's hospital of Colorado. Um, but you can do any other, you know, children's hospital out there if you want and just raise funds for them. And it's just a great way to do that. Um, on top of it able gamers, like we said, it helps anybody with a handicap be able to afford because they have ways for people like that to play games, but it can be very pricey, just like it is with most things.

Russell Dornisch:

You know, a wheelchair is not cheap. Um, different devices aren't cheap, well, special controller is not cheap. So they pay for those things to get in the hands of those gamers. And then the last one that we did in may, we actually did a St. Jude did a gaming day where all the donations went to St. Jude's children's hospital. Um, we raised about 600 for that. We raised about 500 for, uh, extra life. We raised about 300 for able gamers. Um, we're shooting for a thousand right now for extra life, um, through the end of this year, um, we started that last month and we're about 200, I think, into that. And we're wanting to get to a thousand by the end of the year. Um, so it's just a great platform for us to, to be able to, to raise funds for things that we believe in things that we care for. And we see a great response from gamers because they, they are a pretty charity driven group. They enjoy, you know, as a community, us gamers enjoy gaming, and we want others to enjoy gaming too. And so anything we can do to help gamers be able to do that, you know, when we're a little bit more well off than some others, uh, we love to do that. And so the gaming community has been very, very, um, charitable in, in, in our streams that we've been doing

Ryan Dunn:

Well, gentlemen, thank you once again for your time this evening and, uh, sharing this experience with us and then telling us a little bit about your ministry too. So I certainly hope that it helps to inspire some others out there to kind of live into the space that they're trying to, you know, kind of occupy in a sense, uh, and that they captured the vision for that to also hope that, um, you know, we're able to give a little support to the ministry that you're doing

Russell Dornisch:

For having a run. You bet.

Ryan Dunn:

Okay, you've gotten the info, go check out all things, CrossFire: Faith+Gaming at crossfirecast.com. Of course, we're going to provide links to that and to some relevant Twitch resources and the hardware that Russ talked about on our own show notes, which can be found at pastoringinthedigitalparish.com. Thank you to United Methodist communications for supporting this podcast. If you'd like to show support, the best thing you can do is listen to another session. So if I may suggest if you're into the faith in gaming thing, then listen to our session on discord with Nathan web, or if you were interested in the parts of this podcast, where we talked about influence, then go back and listen to the episode on becoming a micro famous minister with Matt Johnson. Good stuff. I'm Ryan Dunn. A new episode will be out next week. So I'll talk with you then. 

Peace

 

 

 

On this episode

CrossFire: faith+gaming

Russell Dornisch and David Petty are the coordinators of CrossFire: faith+gaming, a community where gamers come together to discuss their faith, games, and more. There primary means of outreach is through livestream broadcasts on Twitch. Find out more at their website.

Ryan Dunn, co-host and producer of the Compass Podcast

Our proctor/host is the Rev. Ryan Dunn, a Minister of Online Engagement for United Methodist Communications. Ryan manages the digital brand presence of Rethink Church, co-hosts and produces the Compass Podcast, manages his personal brand, and obsesses with finding ways to offer new expression of grace.