Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    Culture Watch: Video Games & Youth Ministry

    If pizza won't bring youth into your church, maybe violent video games will. Check out this New York Times article about youth ministry programs that are targeting teenage boys by offering the violent video game "Halo" as part of their regular activities:

    Hundreds of churches use Halo games to connect with young people, said Lane Palmer, the youth ministry specialist at the Dare 2 Share Ministry, a nonprofit organization in Arvada, Colo., that helps churches on youth issues.

    “It’s very pervasive,” Mr. Palmer said, more widespread on the coasts, less so in the South, where the Southern Baptist denomination takes a more cautious approach. The organization recently sent e-mail messages to 50,000 young people about how to share their faith using Halo 3. Among the tips: use the game’s themes as the basis for a discussion about good and evil. At Sweetwater Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., Austin Brown, 16, said, “We play Halo, take a break and have something to eat, and have a lesson,” explaining that the pastor tried to draw parallels “between God and the devil.”

    Hmmm. Wonder what happens in these churches if they take away all those game consoles. Do the teenage boys still come back each week for Bible study?



    Paul said...

    Brian, cool post. I think that Halo3 has a lot of youth ministry people scratching their heads and trying to find where to draw the line. I was wondering about your last couple of lines, though.

    "Wonder what happens in these churches if they take away all those game consoles. Do the teenage boys still come back each week for Bible study?"

    I'm not sure I understand what you are saying here. Are you saying that you think youth ministry shouldn't use any teen's affinity beyond Bible study?

    Brian said...

    mHi Paul. Thanks for commenting.

    I'm not against fun stuff as part of youth group, though I do draw the line at violent entertainment (violent movies, paint ball, lazer tag, etc).

    More so, I was musing on the various ways we use to try to attract youth into church programs that really have nothing to do with faith development. For example, I used to work with a church that hosted a ski trip every year to Colorado (costing well over $10,0000). Lots of kids swarmed to the meetings the months before the trip, and then disapeared once the ski trip was over. When I questioned this practice, I was met with "Well, shouldn't we be happy they came to youth group for at least a few months?!" My response was, "I'd rather have them here year round." We eventually replaced the ski trip with a mission trip that helped the youth develop a passion for ministry and kept them coming back for more opportunities to serve and learn.

    jeremy zach said...

    On my blog I argue that we can take away the video games and begin to work on the real problems that are causing kids to spend numerous of hours on the TV and video game.

    Essentially I argue that video games, in the church context, are more of a dis-serve than a service to students.

    EBC Students said...

    I randomly found this post via google because I typed in 'youth ministry culture'. I'm curious Brian, how your views on the video game culture have changed since 2007. Any posts you can refer me to or any type of reply to this article from 3 years ago?