Saturday

Rock Band or No Rock Band

As some of you may or may not know, my husband and I are youth leaders in our church.  We are assistants to our youth pastor and are very involved with the youth ministry.  I am the administrative assistant (voluntarily) for him as well and my husband is head of security on Wednesday nights.  We also minister to the youth and are there for them to talk to us.  There are a lot of unchurched kids who attend youth group every week, and we get some that come and go. Last year, our youth pastor asked us to step up in the ministry and be part of the "eldership" of the youth ministry.  There are two other couples in this "eldership" as well. 

At our leadership retreat back in September, we were brainstorming ways to reach more of the youth in the community. Our youth pastor has always wanted to stay away from "youth groupie" things like video games, pool, foosball, etc. and focus more on discipleship and ministry.  Well, since we've done that the past two years when he took over the youth ministry in our church (he has over 12 years experience in youth ministry) we have seen tons of unchurched kids come once or twice and never return, so we began questioning why. As we discussed the possible reasons, we came to the conclusion it was because we weren't doing those youth groupie things. Our youth pastor is a great speaker, there are lots of adult volunteers (although we could use more-what youth ministry couldn't?), several student leaders, a cafe, good Christian rock music, etc., but it just wasn't holding the kids attention. So, we decided to spruce up the hang out area (the "dome") with some video games! We had just enough money in our youth account to buy 3 plasma screen tv's, and two video games. One video game was donated! We all agreed we should get "Rock Band" and Nintendo's Wii.  The game that was donated was a Wii as well. We have the perfect place to set up Rock Band in the dome.  There is a stage and with the speakers turned just right, only the people playing Rock Band can hear the music from it, and the rest of the people in the dome can only hear the music being played through the speakers.  We've had this set up since Sept. 24, so about 3 weeks.  We've monitored the songs that are played and have weeded out the "bad" ones with swearing and such. Most of the songs are from the 70's, 80's and 90's and are ROCK. The kids LOVE it and it really has drawn some of the kids who have come once or twice before and some new ones.  We also separated the service into two: the Junior High students go in before the Senior High, giving each age group separate time to hang out and their own service.  We've gotten about 20 new Junior High students over the last three weeks and about 8 or 9 new Senior High. 

The problem, and the reason for my post, is that when we were setting up for service last Wednesday, some parents were in the church early in the afternoon.  The guys had just set up the video games for the night and on the Rock Band screen there were some skulls with wings.  One of the parents must have mentioned something to our Senior Pastor about them and he asked that it be taken off or shut off, that it wasn't very Godly. So, my husband changed what was on the screen.

Later that night, after youth group was over and most of the kids gone, one of the parents (same ones mentioned above) pulled our youth pastor aside and spoke to him about having Rock Band as part of our youth group.  He thought it wasn't sending a good message to the kids and that it could cause other problems because of the images shown and some of the lyrics in the songs.

Now, I have not played Rock Band, but I have watched others play it (all Christians). My daughter plays it (sings), my husband plays it, the youth pastor plays it, our youth band worship leader plays it. Why not let the kids play it? Why not have it in church? Some people say the skulls with wings are demonic, but I say, as does my husband, that skulls and wings are God's creations! Some man came up with the idea to use them as "evil" symbols. 

My husband specifically prayed Wednesday night that if we weren't supposed to have Rock Band as part of our out-reach to unchurched kids, for God to give us a sign, and vise-versa.  The next day on our way to work (we carpool), we heard on one of the podcasts Jeff listens, to the scripture in Galations where Paul is talking about being legalistic. He felt that was a sign from God that it is okay to have Rock Band in our church so we can reach others for the gospel of Christ.

What do you think? I'd really like to hear from other youth pastors, pastors, leaders and parents. Is it wrong to have Rock Band, to have students playing Rock Band in church? Do you have any video games in your church or youth ministry? If so, how's it going? Do you think it helps draw unchurched kids so you can minister to them?

4 comments:

  1. Galatians 3:1-9 to be specific.

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  2. Anonymous09:58

    Mary, maybe the better question to ask is, "Is RockBand (the video game itself, not all video games) necessary to keep the kids coming? If feel I could post way more on this but I'm not sure how to communicate it in writing. I don't know if this helps or not.

    Paul

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  3. Good question, Paul! IS Rock Band the only game that will draw kids? I don't know, but I do know that one of the other leaders had a Halo party at her house and she ministered to more kids that night, kids who had never been to her house before, nor would have ever come if it hadn't been for the Halo game.

    The other question to ask is: Is having Rock Band going to cause the kids to have "demonic problems"?

    I think the answer is no. I don't think kids are going to become demon possessed or demon oppressed from playing Rock Band. Like I've said, my 16 year old daughter has played it, my husband, my son, our youth pastor, youth worship leader, etc. They have played it several times, not just once or twice, and none of them have demonic problems.

    Another question to ask then too is, if we choose to keep Rock Band, what kids will we lose? Will we lose some great student leaders in the ministry because their parents don't like us having Rock Band in our youth group? I don't know. I hope not. It has not come to that yet, and I hope it doesn't have to.

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  4. Hey Mary - great topic! Although I do not think that Rock Band (or video games and other forms of media) are inherently bad and against God, I think that as a youth pastor, it is important to support parents in their own struggle to preserve and defend their childs spirit against our culture. Sure, some parents are more protective then others, but this is not a bad thing. This is the kind of parenting that we want to support and encourage. It is hard as a parent to take a stand against what seems like the small things in our culture that most kids friends are allowed to partake in, and we partake in ourselves (my big down fall is music...oh how I love my secular music). It is easy to allow small things that we know won't scar our children or cause them to grow up and be heathens because it is so much easier. It is hard to stand for what, as a parent, we are convicted of to be right, holy and pure. And if a parent is uncomfortable with a video game, song, book, movie, event, etc. because it conflicts with the Godly standard that they have set in their home I believe as a church family, it is our responsibility to do what we can to encourage that family to strive toward Jesus in their convictions. Even if we do not have the same ones. It is hard to reach students, and it is even harder to find aspects of the culture that aren't challenging God and his standard for purity and holiness to enter into with them in order to connect with them.

    When I was working at an Elementary school, I came into contact with students every day who were allowed to listen to M&M, play grand theft auto, and wear inappropriate clothing. Being there and seeing students whose parents don’t protect their souls, spirits and innocence hurt my heart and made me appreciate the parents who work so hard to defend their child against the snares of this world and things that aren’t of God. As servants to our church family (youth leaders) and individuals who want to honor God, I think it is more important to uphold each individual families desires and error on the side of conservativism – we after all don’t know the students the way their parents do. We don’t know their own struggles and what their own temptations are which is another reason to lean on the more conservative side.

    Anyway, this is just my perspective. We use video games with students. Paul will hang out with the guys or will spend some one on one with a student at our house and play video games. It is an easier way for the male students to bond with him – plus they think it is cool.

    Thanks for posting this; I think that this is a really relevant topic in growing ministries that are specifically for students.

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Ps. 37:4, Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart!