“Breaking down walls for the gospel.” This phrase became a purpose statement for me when I first started serving in event and camping ministry more than 16 years ago. The premise is to create an atmosphere or experience that helps lower the barriers in students’ lives so that the good news of Jesus is more readily accepted.
Our goal is to find a common ground with students and leverage that to have a conversation about Jesus. When we share an experience with others, it builds trust and creates a comfortable place to be real. Over the years, we as youth leaders have had the responsibility of taking something a student is passionate about and helping them develop that passion for the Lord. We invite a student to play on the worship team. We play dodgeball with them, or we go to their sports games. The idea is to step into a student’s world and show them Jesus.
For many students today, their identity is formed online. Video games are not just a source of entertainment for them, but they are a major part of their daily life and who they are as a person. They make decisions about their weekend plans or who their friends are simply based on what games they are currently playing. Statistics show that students in the US are more regularly playing video games than they are playing organized sports like football, soccer, or basketball. We believe video games speak this generation’s language. For some students, it is the first step in building a relationship.
The question is, how do you use video games as a ministry leader? Video games are just like any other tool for ministry. They are simply an avenue through which we connect with this generation. Some ideas we share with leaders in your position include setting up a gaming console for students to play before and after youth group, playing with students online outside of youth group, hosting a video game tournament with your students, and making video games come to life by having a gaming-themed night.
An important point arises here: Does this mean your ministry should revolve around video games? Certainly not. However, if you’re going to talk about reaching this generation, video games must be part of the conversation. A mentor of mine would say, “we reach an ever-changing culture with truth that never changes.” The method by which we engage students must change as they do, but the truth of God’s Word never changes.
This makes me think of a great quote from Jack Wyrtzen you may have heard: “It is the responsibility of each generation to reach their generation for Christ.” Jack knew the importance of finding the next trend and using it to have gospel-centered conversations. We need to continually evaluate the effectiveness of the methods we are using to reach those around us. Being a student of the current generation is a necessity when it comes to caring for our students. For us, that happens to include video gaming ministry.
We believe the most influential tool for ministry today is already at your students’ fingertips. Let’s use it for the glory of God.
Adam Curtis is the founder of 7 Admirals, an organization devoted to reaching this generation for Jesus through entertainment. Adam has more than 16 years of experience in professional event hosting and 14 years of camp ministry experience. He and his wife, Maddie, live in Lakeland, Florida, where they are raising their three children: Kenzley, Harrison, and Phoebe.