Ministry via Master Chief???

I read this NY Times article the other day about youth ministries featuring Halo. Video games have been and will continue to be a sticky issue for a lot of people. Right now, as part of some revamping of our youth ministry, we’re talking about setting up a few video game systems and this is an issue we’re talking about. How do we decide which games are ok and which are not? I’ve gotta say that the arguments used by some of the people in this article to justify their practices sound pretty hollow to me.

I’ve played the Halo games with some of my kids. Had fun. Pretty sure I’m not emotionally scarred for life as a result. But if you ever hear me utter the words ‘Halo’ and ‘relevant ministry’ together, please come and pluck the XBox out of my eye so I can see better. The whole baiting the hook thing really makes me feel kinda queasy.

Are our youth ministries so devoid of meaningful substance that we can’t survive without the latest gimmick? Do we not have a passion for what students really need and the ability to transmit that message in ways that they’ll receive it? Or is this just the easy way out – trade kids a 20 minute spiel for a little game time?

Please don’t take this as one self-righteous youth worker looking down the barrel and taking pot shots at other youth workers and their methods. I’m wrestling with this issue myself in my own ministry. I like video games. I like playing video games with my kids. I will continue to play video games with my kids – including some games that some people don’t like. But to say about Halo that “It is crucial… to reach the elusive audience of boys and young men.” just takes it too far.

Dick Staub also had an article about this same issue on his blog today. Read the whole articles and see what you think, but the following couple quotes say a lot:

Marty O;Donnell, one of the creators of Halo and himself a Christian agrees– I too read the article in the New York Times today and was disappointed and shook my head. Once again (I believe) the modern evangelical church has misinterpreted Christ’s injunction to be “fishers of men”.

and the bottom line…

I think Youth pastors face a huge challenge–gamers play Halo because it offers sensatory excitement, a good versus evil storyline and a real sense of connection in community. If we love kids we will serve them in ways that address those needs more deeply than Halo can

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