In an effort to keep the church pure and undefiled, should believers reject popular culture that does not at its heart reflect the message of the gospel? Should the church open its doors to everyone and utilize resources that are not Christ-centric in an effort to expand its influence, which may incur unforeseen expenses? Or, is there a middle way or un-trodden path that Christ leads us down where faith and culture are intertwined in such a way that the message of Christ is allowed to permeate a creation crying out for redemption? Believing that it is the latter question that reflects the call of the church, I will tell you why I believe there is a place for video games in the church…sometimes.
As part of our Spring Break week of fun, we had a Game Day on Wednesday where we had four XBox’s hooked up to big screens. It wasn’t only about XBox, however, as we had some mad games of Phase 10, Life, and Uno going on. But the question at hand is that of video games in church. When we breach this topic, we must keep in mind that most male students, grades 6-12, either play or desire to play games like Modern Warfare 3 on a regular basis. Correct me if I am wrong, but First Person Shooter games are an element of pop culture that I don’t see disappearing anytime soon. So as a youth ministry do we embrace this element of culture and allow them to play these games in our churches weekly hoping that it might foster community and fellowship? Do we identify that many of these games are simulating murder and forbid anything that even resembles violence? Or, do allow some games but not others to be played in the church? This is a fine line to walk.
So here’s my straight-to-the-point answers: Should video games be allowed in church? Yes. On a weekly basis? No. On Sunday morning and Wednesday night, the last thing I want is another distraction that may prevent students from understanding why we are meeting and opening themselves us for an interaction with the Holy Spirit. Does this mean we never play them? No. On this ONE occasion we had students bring their systems and we gave ground rules for sportsmanship and sharing, preempted by a time of prayer. We must understand what our students enjoy doing, but must also teach them about moderation, as many students end up in front of their systems for hours on end! I believe there is a healthy balance and that we must seek out ways to connect with students and point them to truths beyond the game. If meaningful conversations never happen, then video games like Modern Warfare 3 are a terrible idea. But we must seek to meet our culture and society where they are and point them to ultimate truth. This is what Richard H. Niebuhr describes as “Christ Transformer of Culture” in his book Christ and Culture. Niebhur offers, “Christ is seen as the converter of man in his culture and society, not apart from these, for there is no nature without culture and no turning of men from self and idols to God save in society.”
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/59450_866023105758_16716971_46645220_3799405_n.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]David Hanson is a Texas native, born and raised in Amarillo. He is a graduate of Texas Tech University and received his Master of Divinity from Baylor’s Truett Seminary. He and his wife Ashley recently started the journey of parenthood with their daughter Ava. David has been working in youth ministry for over six years and has a desire to see students know, love, and worship Jesus. David is passionate about Red Raider Football, and beating everyone in table tennis (ping pong).[/author_info] [/author]