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Readers Respond: Your thoughts on ‘Halo 3’ as an outreach tool

Chancey and Price have the right approach; you cannot imbue scriptural truths to a mind that is immersed in virtual anything.
I can remember quite well the effects PacMan and Space Invaders had on me as a much younger person. Not to mention the weekend long “Doom” and “Descent” parties I used to participate in, so I’m not coming from an inexperienced point of view. During those weekends and many evenings besides, my obsession was the game, getting better at it, and the goal, of course, was to win and find all the hidden rooms and weapons. There is no way you could have penetrated my thought processes at those times to even consider spiritual things.
Anyone who purports they can reach kids for Christ through this is using human reasoning and we all know how great that can be! God will not share His glory with anyone or anything! This approach is akin to saying “If we pay everyone $5 to show up at church, then we can reach them for Christ.” What you would find is people coming to church for the same reason the crowds followed Jesus: material benefits. Soon it would take $10 to get them to come, then $20.
No, God wants us to draw people to Christ by our lives, which should be a reflection of Him. And we must build people’s interest in the things of God by including Him in everything we do so that People can see Him through us. How does that work with Halo fests? “This too will pass,” as does every fad. Must the church follow the fads of the world in order to reach the lost?
I thought the whole point of being a Christian was to stick out like a “candle in the darkness” not to be part of the darkness?
– Steve Foltz
Hats off to Dudley. I agree with him. I was a youth minister for 32 years and I do not think that you have to use games such as this to attract the youth. The message of Jesus comes through loud and clear. It is a bit inconsistent to promote such violence and killing along side a message of hope and love. Granted, I know we are in spiritual warfare, but do we have to join in to better understand it? It is almost as if we are ashamed of the Bible and we doubt the power it has to change lives in and of itself.
– Johnsie Henderson
Most of the people that think Halo 3 is too violent have never played Halo 3. Video Games are rated by the esrb a private company not regulated by the government like movie ratings. Games rated M are comparable to pg-13 and R movies. The Halo series is comparable to pg-13 or Lord of the Rings. I am an Avid Halo fan. I am at the same time a very conservative Christian. Playing Halo is like playing guns or paintball as a kid, it is obviously fake. It does encourage teamwork, etc. Halo 3 can be played too much by young kids however, just like too much TV can be watched.
– Lee Hite
Thanks to Dudley Chancey and others who dispel the belief that Halo 3 can be an effective tool for outreach. How could it be anything but a bad influence on anyone who plays the “game?”
– Jane Neece
I believe that we don’t need to glorify violence to reach the youth of today. They see enough violence already without us as a church body demonstrating the same self-destructive behavior during our sessions or during our outreach opportunities.
We need to be able to understand that teenagers and young adults want and respect boundaries but if there are none then we have the current society that reflects what will inevitably happen.
– Emmanuel Jordan
I put a halo 3 party together every last Saturday of every month at my church. And it seems to get the youth of my region to church. So i thing using video games as an outreach is effective and fun to the youth and me.
– Mark
I had a much longer response, but I finally just had to hit the delete button. I am just stunned that (1) a youth minister would use a piece of entertainment that has a purchase restriction of 17 years old as an outreach tool for his ministry (2) that and eldership would knowingly allow this, or that they would be so ignorant of what was taking place under their leadership that they could be held liable if a parent were to charge the youth minister and the eldership with abuse and (3) that the parents of the teens and preteens would allow this to occur or continue in a so called “spiritual” environment.
I thank the Chronicle for presenting this article. It sure opened my eyes to the absolute hypocrisy of some who call themselves ministers.
What a world. On one continent men and women risk their lives to preach the truth that Jesus came to save men from oppression and sin. In the good old U.S. of A. paid youth ministers buy mass-produced filth and use it to bring kids into their “church” groups.
And, somewhere above it all, Jesus has to be crying.
– Paul Smith
I think that churches now a days are losing their teen audience; if they have to use something as cool as Halo 3 to get kids to go to church, that’s disgusting, Halo is too cool for that- They should try using a PS3 or something.
– Alex
This article on Halo 3 concerns me a bit. One, if a youth minister is relying on video games to connect with his youth, then he shouldn’t be the youth minister period! In the ’80’s and ’90’s when the video game industry came to life, the industry wasn’t thinking about if their games are of a Christian value or not and they still don’t. All they care about is producing a game with great graphics that will sell and sell well enough to make them rich. They don’t care about our values and it sickens me that a youth minister needs to rely on these video games to connect with our youth. All ministers don’t need anything else but the BIBLE to connect.
– Tim Gelvin
Wow, Filth? First you’ve obviously not taken the time to accually play or even find out what the story of the game is. It’s quite a good story with about unity, as well as independence, and over coming unparalleled odds. It’s appartent that all you’ve done is look at the game play and seen sensless killing, open your eyes and don’t be so close minded. Second, there is way worse materials. Third, if you teach your kids morals and values outside of the chruch, they will be more likely to be OPEN MINDED to them at church. Stop using the church as a crutch thinking if I take my kids to church, I don’t have to worry about teaching them morals at home. Respect for God, Family, and others, starts at home. Not where you drop them off every Sunday morning.
I do not agree with Halo 3 at a tool to bring kids to the churh. There is a time and a place for that, and its not church. But this discussion has shown me how close minded a lot of you are, and no wonder your kids are finding it hard to open their minds and hearts to God. I’m sure this will probably upset a lot of people, but just stop and think about it. Most of the world’s problems are a result of peoples failures to open their minds.
– James Stainbrook
Like (another) who posted before me said… so many people on here are making fools of themselves by jumping to conclusions without sufficient knowledge of the game. Saying “Halo 3 brings a tear to Jesus’ eye” is such the wrong way to state our opinion… what a self-important comment.
Now let’s be objective here…. I enjoy playing Halo 3 with my friends, but I don’t think it is necessarily a good outreach tool. Let’s try to draw people to Christ without “baiting” them with something cool. But at the same time, if there is an appropriate time and place for youth group members to play a video game as an additional function, then great. The point is Halo or any other activity should not be the foundation of the ministry or such a big part of it that it detracts from the message. Youth leaders just need to be careful to balance things.
If it were Grand Theft Auto, I believe we could make a case for the game being a bad influence.
– Jon Larsen
I have to admit that in the realm of high-tech games I am very “challenged.” The last ones I played were “Frogger” and “Burger Time” (which easily dates me and gives a huge hint on my age). The concern I have with games such as “Halo 3” is the clear intent of violence. It’s not just a message of the hero trying to survive, but it’s a game that is all about how much killing or maiming can be accomplished. While one may say that the “enemy” in the game is nothing more than “unreal” monsters – the solution to the problem is still violence. While many of our young are attracted to these kinds of games, I wonder how the violence used by the hero (the gamer) equates with the non-violent spirit of our true hero – Jesus. I also wonder about the addictive nature of such games. According to an official web-site for the game “Halo 3”, gamers needs to get ready for a game that can realistically take them 3 years to complete. I know that the next statement may sound as though it is out of touch culturally, but wouldn’t our time be better served in learning more from God’s Word (the Bible) and serving our fellow man instead of sitting in front of the gaming screen? Wouldn’t the youth of our churches find more fulfillment in doing community projects rather than getting together on a regular basis to play video games? Please don’t get me wrong – I’m all for recreation, fellowship, and relaxation – but should such times be used in the endeavor of playing games of violence?
– Rick Edgemon

It would appear that one of my pointed adjectives has struck a raw nerve. As this discussion points to a very critical aspect of what it means to be a “community of Christ,” let me further my critique.
One writer has suggested three areas where I have failed. One is that I have not played the game. Fair enough. If I were to see the limitation that persons under the age of 17 are not allowed the buy the product I would avoid it for the same reason that I avoid “R” rated movies and reading materials. If a writer/publisher cannot appeal to my intellect without sex, blood and violence then as a child of the King I don’t need to play his game or watch his movie or read his book. Period. Second, he argues that there are worse materials available. I could argue, by the same logic, that since soft core pornography is far less graphic than hard core pornography, one way to interest our teens in Bible study would be to have a wet t-shirt contest where all the young ladies could compete for prizes. After all, they would be fully clothed, and, after all, there are far worse things than just a wet t-shirt. Third, I am told about the central value of teaching in the home. I agree completely. But when my moral teachings at home are directly contradicted by the behavior of the youth minister then something is seriously wrong. How can I trust a program to develop my child’s moral compass when the leadership provides material that glorifies “senseless killing” as the writer admits?
We are to be separate. We are to be different. We are called out of the world and we are to call others out of the world. This article is invaluable because it points to one specific instance where some are attempting to use the tools of the world to defeat the world. It just won’t work. How can a minister use a violent video game and then teach the principles of the sermon on the mount which demand self-denial, reconciliation and the inevitability of persecution?
I stand by my original adjective. To use material that is age limited due to violence is to use material that our Lord would condemn. How can we condone it?
– Paul Smith
As people who are indented to be different, “peculiar people,” it hardly seems fitting for us to use the world’s entertainment to occupy our youths.
The words of our mouths are to “impart grace,” and our minds are supposed to be foccused on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence, and if any-thing worthy of praise,” these are the things we are to dwell on. Our minds, like our computers, work on the same principle: “Garbage in, garbage out.” This is not “rocket science,” this is common sense, which is all too uncommon in these times. We will never convince all the “Christian” parents out there to follow these biblical principles, but certainly we should be able to influence our youth ministers to do so.
– Gary Villamor
It’s a video game, not an evangelical tool.  The lost need to be reached by Christians, real people with Bibles in hand, not by an electronic device.
– L.B. Arger
Well, the ratio of Lepricons to Unicorns clearly shows that Halo 3 is the devil in video game form….  Some would say just about anything to make them sound right, and a spin doctors at that…are any of you politicans by chance?
– Robert Fulton
Halo 3 provides a temptation for those that play it to feed hidden malice.  It does not matter if it is aliens or monsters, because the enemy in real life would always be reduced as a monster to be killed or an alien that does not belong in that person’s life to be removed.
Christians should design a game that shows love for thy neighbor, and to do it secretly will be the challenge for a bonus…a reward from God as the Bible says God rewards those that pray in secret and give in secret and thus doing good works in secret would also be rewarded from God.
Maybe that way, the Lord will inspire them to love thy neighbor in real life.
– Scott W. Spears
I am a student studying youth ministry and am going to graduate next year.  I understand Chancy’s comments about having true relationships with students.  Reading Purpose Driven Youth Ministry and many other Youth Ministry resources we can understand that there are different levels of youth in our youth ministries. ie community, crowd, discipleship students….  I don’t think I would recommend Halo bible studies for a small group for the committed or Discipleship students in our youth groups, but as for the crowd students coming into the church… I think it is as good (maybe even better) than playing basketball, football, skateboarding, or other activities that most ministries have for these community students of the church. 
I see far too often in churches students that are not althelically fit or don’t feel comfortable getting physical with other students getting left on the side line.  This is something within the youth group, though.  Each youth pastor has a different way of doing their ministries and I believe that their are not enough focused more on this gaming generation.  If we have students willing to come to church because of playing halo as an outreach or as a community student small group, great!  I am not talking about just handing kids controllers and leaving them for an hour, but if you have a curriculum such as dare2share makes and leaders that are making strong relationships through this outreach.  I say go for it. 
I do believe that the Gospel is strong enough to speak for itself, but if we are honestly trying to do what Jesus has called us to do we need to have different programs that attract different types of students.  I have been at churches that see skateboarding the same way as some of you have reacted at Halo and look at all of the people that have became Christians through the Skate churches.  If we are reaching and teaching kids for Christ and about Christ than we are doing our job as Christians.  If we are going to get in the way of these special ministries, remember what Jesus tells us-
And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
I believe that sinned can also be translated to led astray, So if we stopped a ministry that could have let a student accept Christ, God will judge us for that!
– Jason Skalicky
Fellow Christians, I read the article and would like to put my two cents in worth. The Halo series is a great series. It is fiction. Using it as an outreach tool is a serious matter to contemplate. It is like using instrumental music in worship. It crosses the line. I enjoy playing Halo myself, but I am 36 years old. To reach to the young mind, there are many positive ways to do that. The bringing in of a video game to bring a crowd in or to meet them on their own level is not a good argument. Teenagers and on up need positive things to focus on in a world that is negative. If you want to reach out to them, introduce them to God. The games that are being created today have their positves and negatives. These games are for mature minds that understand the meaning of fiction and nonfiction. Introduce them to God, not entertainment. The mind is very impressionable. Take the kids on field trips. Take them a zoo, or camp out in nature. Put their mind on God. Show them the beauty of His handiwork. Did you not see the thing in Fox News about Manhunt 2? Halo may not be focused on taking human life, yet it is focused on taking life. Educate them in what matters. Don’t entertain them. Introduce them to the world and people so that they may grow into young Christians that will make a difference. I say these with spiritual love, not in hate. There is enough of that around. Be constructive, not destructive. Leave the video games out. Bring the joy of learning and the appreciation of life and God in. Do not entertain; build something that matters. Show them how to care and love people.
– Ron Maynard
I believe that approaching Halo 3 as anything more than a game meant for entertainment produces a mindset inappropriate for the discussion. As a highly-developed game, Halo is meant to entertain and hold attention, not teach a message or destroy young minds. As is true with anything, Halo must be approached with a mature mindset – one must realize the fiction of what is portrayed on the screen. Halo is designed as a futuristic portrayal of an alien invasion, not a metaphor for Christianity.
The article made the point of mentioning the Harry Potter debate as a negative influence, but these fall into very similar categories – if approached immaturely, they can become a distraction and pitfall; they can also be enjoyable diversions for those mature enough to properly accept them. Halo 3 is not an outreach tool; it is a game. I will not advocate that Halo is ideal for developing Christian principles; it is not and has made no overtures of being such. Neither, however, is it a bad influence designed to pervert our youth.
As a 16-year old Christian with two Christian parents, I realize the choice I must make in the games I play, and my parents and I coordinate our research before I make a purchase. Doing this is the only true way for youth to be able to stay safe and pure in a dangerous world.
– Ethan Ash

  • Feedback
    Again to the editor I am a teen so I don’t want to give out to much info just show you a teens look. I grew up I a very Chirstian house. I remember watching… Well I don’t know if I’m allowed to it because it is patented, but a very famous space epic. Why did I watch it? Because there was a very good story. In halo there is a good story and a good game. But ask your self did either give God glory. NO, they are entertainment. I believe God wants us to be entertained. Why, because you know how being bored leads to sinfulness. Halo even with its violence teaches about moral, chief, and how people do bad things for power like the false profits. But using on Sunday in church No. Maybe a week day session but not on sunday
    -Dr. D
    Dr. Doolittle
    Somewhere, NY
    March, 11 2012

    (at the end of my last comment I said I didn’t read the article but I actually did but what I thought I was reading was comments on the article but it turned out to be the article itself. oops!)
    July, 18 2008

    I’ve read a lot of responses saying that playing using Halo is bad or is good for out reach but I haven’t seen t that many Bible verses to back them up and I think that God gave us the Bible for situations like these.
    I believe that it is bad to use as outreach because I think it is bad to play the game in the first place. (and by that I mean it is a sin, against God) Here are some verses that tell us this is true.
    1 Cor 10:31 “so whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” Halo may be fun but how does it glorify God? I’ve tried to witness to friends while playing but it is near impossible. You can say that you can honor God by playing Halo but I know that you are only decieving yourselves.
    2 Tim 2:22 “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” This verse tell us to avoid anything that leads us to sin. I know that for most (almost everyone) playing Halo leads to other sins. Some of those for me were: swearing, lusting, overeating, anger/hatred, and disobeying my parents. Also, it tells us what to enjoy: other believers companionship, NOT video games. Now some of you will say,”I play Halo with my christian friends” but that isn’t companionship and if you think it is then I know that you are only decieving yourselves.
    Phi 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whateveris pure, whatever is lovely, whatevr is admirrable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” Halo doesn’t fit that description at all.
    Matthew 5:28 “but I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has alreay committed adultery with her in his heart” If imagining having sex with a women is just like having sex with a women in God’s eyes, then is killing someone in a game (imagining killing them) the samething as actually killing them in God’s eyes?
    Also, if the world (the world that thinks that being gay and killing babies is okay) thinks that its not okay for kids under the age of 17 to play it then doesn’t that tell you something? It isn’t good for anyone to play it!
    And if it isn’t good for anyone to play it then why would it be good for a church to use it as outreach? (I haven’t actually read the article so I’m sorry for anything that results from me not knowing what the original says. ex. me saying something he/she said or something like that)
    July, 17 2008

Filed under: Letters To The Editor Staff Reports

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