“Black Ops” Them to Christ

Black OpsToday’s youth workers are being forced to tackle a huge theological issue in their ministry with young people!

The Doctrine of Hell? No.

Eternal security? No.

Calvinism vs. Arminianism? No.

None of these issues catalyze strife from parents, elders and even senior pastors like the theology of Game-ism, or more specifically, is it or is it not appropriate for the junior high pastor to play “Black Ops” on Xbox 360 with Dillon, Chris and Michael?

If you ever want to heat up the room at a parent meeting, just bring up violent video games, specifically “first-person-shooter” games. Guaranteed you’ll have the following three people in the room:

  • A mom who is horrified by any game where a gun is pointed at another person. These are the games that the Columbine killers played, right?
  • A dad who thinks violent games are okay as long as they don’t have nudity. It’s okay to stab someone in the throat repeatedly, just don’t look at a girl’s boobs while you do it.
  • A set of parents who have no idea what their kids play. Grand Theft Auto is one of those racing games with little cartoon animals dodging mushrooms, right?

Every parent has their own opinion about what is appropriate (which is one reason we just provide a basic description and details that we call “what parents should know” on our new VIDEO GAMES REVIEW page, instead of a solid “yes” or “no” recommendation).

How is a youth worker to approach the subject? Chances are, this Gen Y (20-something) youth worker has an Xbox 360 of his own at home and plays games from the “Call of Duty” and “Halo” series regularly. Is this wrong? Is he biased?


This issue begs the question: should we oppose or embrace video games. After all, a ton of our kids are already playing “Black Ops.” Can we join them in these covert missions (that inarguably are violent and allow bad language)? Are we putting our stamp of approval when we do?

I asked a similar question in my blog earlier this week and youth worker Josh commented:

…it is more fun to play with other people than it is to play against the computer. A couple of the parents in my youth group allow their students to only play the multiplayer because the campaign is usually where the game gets its rating from. Black Ops is a perfect example of that, I played through it just to see what the students might have been playing, and it was the part of the game that had the most “graphic” violence and language that it got the M rating for. Now, if you switch over to the multiplayer, the language is not there and the violence isn’t depicted in such a strong way. But it is more fun, in my own opinion. Parents and youth leaders just need to make judgments about what they are going to do with video games and what they are going to allow. And as a Youth Minister, I need to respect what parents have decided for their students. If I know a parent doesn’t let their student play, then I am not going to have playing videos as part of an event where I know that they will be coming. But other times, I’ve had parents host a video game hang out at their home where they would cook and myself with 3 other students would have fun playing against each other. And the thing is, if you can talk to a student about Black Ops, you “earn” some respect in their book. Many times video games was what opened the conversation but it always ended somewhere else, much deeper and meaningful.

Is Josh right?

Is an “M” rated game like “Black Ops” okay when it’s in the “multiplayer” mode?

Do playing these games with teenagers really help us connect?

QUESTION: Here’s my personal two cents on if first-person shooter games are okay, but what do you think? Share your opinion with us in the comments below.

Posted on August 17, 2011

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