Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Killer Evangelism

Halo 3 in church

How far should a church go to bring people in its doors? This is a question being asked in response to churches holding Halo 3 tournaments as a means of getting a new demographic to darken their doors. A recent article in The New York Times, Thou Shalt Not Kill, Except in a Game at Church says of this phenomenon:
Those buying it must be 17 years old, given it is rated M for mature audiences. But that has not prevented leaders at churches and youth centers across Protestant denominations, including evangelical churches that have cautioned against violent entertainment, from holding heavily attended Halo nights and stocking their centers with multiple game consoles so dozens of teenagers can flock around big-screen televisions and shoot it out.

The alliance of popular culture and evangelism is challenging churches much as bingo games did in the 1960s. And the question fits into a rich debate about how far churches should go to reach young people.

Far from being defensive, church leaders who support Halo — despite its “thou shalt kill” credo — celebrate it as a modern and sometimes singularly effective tool. It is crucial, they say, to reach the elusive audience of boys and young men.
This is what is called in some church circles a side door event. Get people into the building for some other purpose and then connect them to the congregation and to God. I can see how a Halo night might bring people in, but would it really help them get connected to a church in a meaningful way? My take is that it is a long shot. What do you think?



  • At 10/08/2007 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Long shot?" Pun intended?:)

    First of all, such a video game is not permitted in my home for my kids to play. And, even if I couldn't get them to church, I would never allow them to attend a church that permits the game.

    Secondly, I don't see any point to using video games to get our youth through church door regardless of their content. Have you ever witnessed a kid while playing a video game? Just TRY and get their attention away from that activity! The only way to do that is to turn the game off. Then, try and communicate with them after that happens!

    No, I don't see this attempt as successful in the long run.

  • At 10/08/2007 9:51 PM, Anonymous Denise said…

    I disagree. I think it might just be a contemporary solution to an old problem, getting kids involved in anything that isn't "fun". I'd rather my kid play Halo 3 with his pastor than anyone, but regardless of who he plays it with, he will play it. I don't see this much different from bringing a bottle of wine to an ECW meeting, bringing wine doesn't mean we'll have to start an AA group next year. Playing a mature game with mature kids doesn't mean they will go out and shoot people. I don't know of any other 27 year olds serving prison terms for shooting each other with sawed-off shotguns/six shooters like Yosimete Sam or Elmer Fudd, either.

  • At 10/08/2007 9:54 PM, Anonymous Denise had too many things to say... said…

    I'd compare this kind of technique with pizza (oh no it's not healthy), swimming (they could drown!), sports (the point in football is to get the ball by knocking someone down at full force), or Red Rover.

  • At 10/09/2007 12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I don't believe the Church is a place for Halo 3 or any other video game of it's kind. Violent video games require the player to identify one on one with the aggressor. With the game being interactive, the child becomes more aggressive in thought and action. This will roll over into the child's life within the home and school.

    I am not saying that this it the way with all children, but what about the ones that it does affect this way? what is the church teaching them? That it's OK to have violent and aggressive thoughts and actions as long as you pray with us after you finish your game.

    With regards to the wine at a EWC meeting. A glass of wine in moderation and teaching a child any form of violence is OK are not in the same league.

  • At 10/09/2007 6:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree Rhonda.

    And with regards to the wine: The ECW itself is what draws the women into church for the meetings. I doubt anybody is just showing up for the wine. Besides, an adult having a glass of wine and a minor playing video games are like comparing flowers to spaceships.

    My kids love to attend services and functions at KOP! It's not because there are video games, red rover or football after services. It's because they feel important there in their service to God. They feel welcome and loved by the congregation. They feel like important members of the congregation. Never once have they referred to anything about KOP as "borning".

  • At 10/10/2007 8:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Have you seen the news on the latest school shooting? Another angry teenager killed himself after attempting to kill his peers and teachers with a gun. Maybe that's why we don't see many 17 year olds in jail for this crime.(I believe Denise refered to them as 27 year olds. Typo of course.) They commit suicide after they shoot and kill or attempt to kill others.

    It seems rather Yosemite Sam-like to me to walk into a school and start angrily shooting at living targets. The idea to take out his anger in such a violent extreme had to come from somewhere. But, I don't believe it came from eating pizza or playing Red Rover.

  • At 10/11/2007 8:25 AM, Anonymous denise said…

    A kid who will walk into a school and shoot his peers is obviously deeply troubled, regardless of which cartoons he watches or video games he plays. It's unfair to blame a game or cartoon for a person's actions, just like you can't blame a motorcycle for an auto accident. The responsibility lies with the person committing the act, not the inanimate object they used to commit it or the activity they did prior. A church is the place for everything and anything an of age child can do within the limits of the law and the vestry. 27 wasn't a typo. I was trying to make the point that I can't blame Yosimite Sam if I decide to shoot my best friend with a 6-shooter, just because we grew up watching the program. You can site the last 10 or 15 school shootings if you want, but I can site the millions of kids and adults who play halo 1, 2, and 3 every single day and don't shoot people because of it, just like you can site the billions who have a wine at mass every day and still aren't alcoholics.

  • At 10/11/2007 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Since we are questioning whether or not we should use violent video games as a way to lure our youth into Christian churches, I think we should take it a step further and ask, "What would Jesuse do?"

    Jesus did not advocate violence in any way,shape or form. Therefore, I believe that Jesuse would object to the use of violent games to draw kids into the House of the Lord, which should uphold to His standards of peace in the first place. This is not to say that these videos will cause a youth to react in violence. But violence should not be taken lightly. It's a serious matter however you look at it.

    To take violence, knowing very well that Jesus was adamently opposed to it, and make light of it in games for our youth (and adults for that matter) is a contradition to His teachings.

    There are so many peaceful means that could be utilized to draw our youth into church anyway.

    And Denise, I do understand what you are trying to convey, but I guess that I don't get your analogies to violence.


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