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?