“As a Christian man seeking to know God, as an entrepreneur seeking to glorify God through business activities, it’s easy to get distracted. The most important thing is to seek God first. Getting caught up in ‘doing for God’ rather than ‘seeking God’ can happen to anyone, whether in ministry or business, so this requires my fullest diligence.”
For the May 2017 issue of MinistryTech magazine, I interviewed Tim and Sara Kilpatrick of Hero Factor Games. Here’s their story:
When Sara Kilpatrick was in the 1st grade, she contracted the Chicken Pox and was confined to her home. All she could do all day was play video games. From that moment on, she was determined that she would grow up to be a video game designer. Today, Sara and her husband Tim are co-founders of Hero Factor Games. Their website describes their products as “creative video games that support positive, moral, and biblical decision-making.” What does that look like, and how did the Kilpatricks get here?
A Personal Revival
Both Tim and Sara were raised in the church. Sara was baptized at age 8 and was always pursuing a closer relationship with Christ. Tim, on the other hand, left the church in high school and explored other ways to “find god.” After a few years of wandering, including studying music at a conservatory and studying philosophy and literature at a small Christian college, he found his real callings, first to the one true God of the Bible, and then to writing software.
After completing his Bachelor’s degree in CIS and beginning the MSCS program, Tim was recruited to work at a mobile app development company where he met Sara. Sara had also earned an MIS degree, but with a graphic design minor, and an MBA. Tim and Sara discovered a mutual love for developing games, and for each other. Soon they were married and developing a business plan for a video game company they could start on the side as they continued in their full time jobs.
But God had other plans. He placed it on their heart that He wanted them to quit their jobs and pursue this passion full time. They spent much time in prayer and God provided confirmation that this was His will. Their time in the Word kept pulling them towards going full time with their business. One of their advisors told them “often times God won’t give you what you need until you really need it” – counseling them to make the jump. And, to cap it all off, an angel investor approached them about investing in the business before they had even started looking for money.
While starting Hero Factor Games has taught them many business lessons, they cherish more the spiritual lessons they’ve learned. As a couple, they have drawn closer to God and rested more faithfully in His ability and not their own. This time has been somewhat of a personal revival for them with incredible blessings for them personally, for their marriage, and for their business.
Sara summarized some of their lessons in this way: “We’ve learned to always seek God first, before even seeking His direction or blessings (John 17:3). Then, in light of who God is, the rest of the day is the opportunity to apply what we have learned about Him – to trust that God really is who He says He is. We believe that this business is God’s ministry, that He will use it, that He will get the glory, and that He will provide everything we need. We submit everything to Him.”
Use Your Powers for Good
When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mk 12:29–30)
The motto for Hero Factor Games is “Use your powers for good.” It comes from Mark 12:30. As they develop their games, Tim and Sara especially focus on the choices that players make and how that shapes how we think and who we become. C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity “every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself.”
Tim and Sara’s first game is atomidoodle, a fast action game that teaches about chemistry and God’s creation. It won the silver medal for mobile apps in the 2016 Parent’s Choice Awards. They spent over a year building various prototypes of different game concepts before their time with the Lord led them to pursue atomidoodle, and within a week they had a prototype working. They are now developing several other games in various genres. Tim told me “The most important thing is to build a fun game first. Then we can figure out how to build in God-honoring content without being pedantic or contrived.”
The Kilpatricks are obviously very thoughtful about how their work is a ministry and how it can bring honor to God, but also about how it’s not really on them to make it happen. In our interview they referenced George Műller, the German Christian who God used to touch so many lives in Bristol, England in the 19th century. Beyond even the initial angel investor, God has continued to provide what they need when they need it, including developers showing up on their doorstep, willing to work for free until they could afford to pay them.
Tim uses a quote from A.W. Tozer to summarize their priorities, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Tim applies this to his life in this way: “As a Christian man seeking to know God, as an entrepreneur seeking to glorify God through business activities, it’s easy to get distracted. The most important thing is to seek God first. Getting caught up in ‘doing for God’ rather than ‘seeking God’ can happen to anyone, whether in ministry or business, so this requires my fullest diligence.”