Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Should We Use Violent Video Games in Youth Ministry?

Should Christians Use Violent Video Games to Lure Teens to Christ? by Hannah Elliot

This is a very interesting debate. I don't know where I stand on this yet. I have used things like this in the past and actually am considering using Halo3 and Guitar Hero as a station at an upcoming all-nighter. I know both views, one saying we should use whatever we can to reach students. The other side says, "What you win them with is what you win them to." I don't even know if there is a right or wrong answer, I think is comes down to personal choice and of course if your church would approve of it or not. It is not worth losing your job over. What would you do?

1 comment:

Morgan Cooper said...

Bryan, interesting question. I have personal distaste for video games, particularly Halo. I just react like a typical girl/mom, in that there is enough violence/death in society -just watch the news- that we don't need to participate in something that makes it a game.

Acc. to the article you posted:
"Halo has made good fodder even for military training because it teaches recruits how to kill without hesitating—and without side-effects."

I think that is the last thing churches need to support, or even have the illusion that it's supported. That's the difference between games/movies where killing is glorified, and shows like Law & Order, CSI: the violence on those shows is followed up by justice against the bad guys.

“If the Old Testament were a video game, it would make Halo 3 blush.”

Again, in the Old Testament, much of the violence and content revolves around disobedience to God, idolatry and sin. More consequences! In my experience with youth, and having been one, I think it's safe to say many young people do NOT consider the real-life consequences of much of their behavior...of course until actually faced with them.

"Many experts agree the violence-based M-rating places undue pressure on parents, who may not allow M-rated games at home but have trouble explaining to their child why the games are allowed in church."

This is something that parents/kids already deal with in terms of music and movies. I wasn't allowed to watch PG-13 movies until I was, can you guess...13 years old. But my best friend could watch R-rated movies at 13 years old. I think churches should take a bigger role in supporting parents, even if erring on the strict side. Talk of legalism is always brought up in these cases, and about other issues like secular music, drinking, & gambling. And one should consider how this affects their spiritual life, but especially how it affects any one else's. Don't do anything that could make someone else stumble.

"The game has some religious thematic elements, namely the good-versus-evil plot and the role of Master Chief. That’s why some say it can be a valuable tool in relating to non-Christians."

ABSOLUTELY use Halo as a tool. Rather than preaching fire and brimstone b/c you play Halo, or supporting it at church programs, get culturally relevant by opening a discussion about current pop culture: music, games, movies. Open up dialogue and get kids to examine what they watch and listen to compared to what scripture says, and what they SAY they belive. Sometimes, they probably don't know the lyrics to some songs, but because it's played by the "it" group, they listen to it.

It seems to me we should be reaching out to youth in any way possible. But, we should also be teaching the youth how to reach out to others, and build relationships. Evangelism is NOTHING without love. I don't see violent video games as the most effective tool to set an example for relationship building.

And Bryan, I will have you in my prayers. Youth ministry is so appealing to me...trying to lead youth in the right direction...but SO complex and difficult with the inevitable influence of culture (not always in "evil" ways...). It's awesome that you put so much effort into doing it the right way!