Halo Used In Churches?

Halo Used In Churches?


Since its release, Halo 3 has been all over the news and can be seen nearly everywhere.  However, the Halo phenomenom has spread to a place few would expect to look for it…in churches.

The New York Times has an article exploring the way that some Protestant youth groups have been using Halo as a lure for young people to come to the church.  The youth are allowed to play sessions of Halo and then are assembled for a youth meeting.  However, considering the violence and M-rating of the Halo games, some are understandably upset.

“If you want to connect with young teenage boys and drag them into church, free alcohol and pornographic movies would do it,” stated James Tonkowich, who is the president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a group that evaluates denominational policies. “My own take is you can do better than that.”

Gregg Barbour, the youth minister of Colorado Community Church where they use Halo 3 for ministry, disagrees.  “We want to make it hard for teenagers to go to hell,” Barbour stated in a letter to the parents at the church justifying the use of Halo.

The debate has raged throughout the internet, expanding to websites such as the blog of bible scholar Ben Witherington where both sides of the issue are represented.  Witherington is obviously against the use of Halo for church recruitment, as his blog includes sentiments like the following.

“This whole sorry approach to youth ministry smacks of absolute desperation and fear – fear that if we are not relevant, we cannot attract a crowd. Is this really what Jesus would do? I don’t think so…”

Lisa, a reader of the Witherington’s site, stated the following to disagree.

Playing, say, Grand Theft Auto in a church would be a vastly different story… If a church has specifically made it its mission to be culturally relevant to today’s youth, if you’re eliminating video games as an option, you’re highly limiting the tools you can use to reach out.

Marc Alexrod, a self-professed pastor, even weighs in, although his stance isn’t clear.

My Super Nintendo helped me through a lot of seminary nights when I just didn’t feel like studying… As a pastor, I’ve had great times playing NFL Blitz and other games with the young people…  But I wouldn’t feel right playing a game with gratuitous violence. I don’t know if Halo 3 is a case example or not. I did play Virtua Fighter 4 at church with a couple of my confirmands last Sunday night. Maybe that was a borderline call…

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