Interesting article in the NY Times about the phenomenon of Protestant churches using the video game Halo—in which the goal is to kill as much as possible—as an evangelization tool. At first I thought, why not? They already have the jumbotron TVs in every church. May as well use them on weekdays, too.
But seriously, as the article notes, this does seem to raise a legitimate question. How far is it advisable for a church to go to be considered “relevant” to youth (or to adults, for that matter)? Must they find exactly the same thing in church they find in the world at large? Someone in the article says that just because something draws teens into church doesn’t automatically mean it’s a good idea—and cites booze and porn as examples. Another claims that Halo is a necessary tool, because kids don’t play sports as much anymore. Perhaps, though, video games are more a cause of this, than a consequence? Maybe? I remember going to mid-week youth night at Concordia Lutheran. I was the biggest video game fan on earth, but still loved running around outside, going crazy. Might it be that the current crop of youth pastors have a Halo addiction? And are simply making a virtue of necessity? “Let’s see . . . gotta work at church on Wednesday night, which will cut into my Halo time—I know! Let’s bring Halo to church!”
Oh—and one guy is quoted as saying that playing Halo at church is “no different than camping.” Uh huh. Except for with Halo, you’re indoors rather than outdoors; Halo requires electricity and camping doesn’t; pizza places don’t deliver to campsites; and so forth. They’re virtually identical! What he means is that getting together with friends is getting together with friends, no matter what the place or circumstances. But this is really lame. A better analogy is that, if you are under 17, playing Halo at church is like getting someone to buy you and your friends beer. If you’re under 17 you are too young to legally purchase Halo or beer. (Problems with this analogy, of course, but it holds up better than the “camping” one.)
I’m not against Halo (I’m kinda hoping Joe rigs another Halo Nite!) but my gut feeling is that church is not the right place for that kind of entertainment. I wonder whether the Jews, Muslims, or Orthodox or Catholic Christians are doing anything similar. Or, if not, why this is a peculiarly Protestant trend.