Thinking Aloud

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My church’s youth room is decorated with black and grey tones. Even the ceiling tiles have been painted black. The overall effect reminds me of a dark cave; a dark worship cave.

As I was waiting for my wife to get out of a summer camp meeting, I talked to a few of the guys hanging out in the youth room. I was immediately asked, “Do you play Fortnite?”

Wyatt, sitting next to me, suddenly perked up, “What’s Fortnite?”

I talked with this kid, we’ll call him Alex, about the game. He gave me a history lesson on the rise of battle royale games, how most of them stemmed from a game called ARMA.

I was reminded just how nerdy gaming culture can be when Alex dove into a PC versus console debate.

“I’m a part of the PC master race.”

I’m sure you are, Alex, I’m sure you are.

My youth room encounter got me thinking about this site, my thoughts towards ministry within the gaming culture, etc. I am reminded that gaming culture spans a large swath of demographics. That when I think of gaming culture, I think of those who are closer to my age, not someone like Alex.

Reminded me that I started this blog to encourage others in the gaming space. That JohnnyBGamer has always been about promoting a balance between life and gaming. My original tagline, for the site, was: “Because there is more to life than just gaming.” I created that tagline in the midst of a season of watching friends being consumed by what they were consuming, video games. I hated that, I hated the control gaming had upon them, had upon me.

At this point in life, I am at a place where gaming doesn’t have as strong as a pull as it once did. But in talking to Alex and his friend last night, I’m reminded that there are others still in the midst of that struggle. A struggle where kids I know, kids around me, are out of control in their gaming. Makes me wonder…

How can I help parents:

  • Curate the types of video games their family consumes
  • Promote healthy media consumption habits for their children

How can I help gamers:

  • Ask questions about the games they are playing
  • Learn healthy online habits for interacting within gaming culture
  • Be aware, overall, that there is more to life than just gaming

I am not sure where God is leading me right now. But these are thoughts I’m processing through in this season after stepping down from Theology Gaming. Whether I step out and do something “big”, become more purposeful with this blog, or just take the gaming lessons I’ve learned, along the way, and use them to help my son navigate the gaming space.

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Get Up And Play With Your Kids

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The Gospel Coalition’s Trevin Wax wrote “4 Principles for Parenting in a World of Video Games“. His article contained some practical advice but featured a tone laced in fear. Zachery Oliver, over at Theology Gaming, wrote a rebuttal titled “Kids and Video Games“. My wife, Tabitha Hall, wrote the following as a response to both articles:

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Model good media behavior in front of your kids.

If you restrict your child’s screen time, then make sure you model that while they are up. Meaning, don’t sit on your recliner and watch sports or play a video game by yourself all day. Turn off the TV. Get up and play with them.

If the rule at your house is no phones at the table, turn your phone on silent and put it away. Want your kids to love to read? Then let them see you reading a book and discuss the book with them. Pick a book to read aloud together with your kids.

Something I believe both Mr. Wax and Mr. Oliver have to remember is that every family’s technology engagement will look different, and no one needs to be judged on their own personal plan. Rather, as I believe Mr. Wax was trying to point out, there needs to be a plan for technology in the home. Not a rigid plan with no flexibility for the child, but a fluid plan that can change with the ebb and flow of the family.

Our family decided to keep technology out of the bedroom. We have a limit on how much screen time our son can consume at one sitting. Twenty minutes is our norm before we encourage that he do something else. Technology is not going to go away, it will just get more influential as time progresses on.

As a parent, you help your child solve a problem by brainstorming solutions. You help them practice their catching, bike riding, or even their shoe-tying skills. In the same way, my husband and I are trying to model good technology behaviors to our son.

Thinking Aloud: Why We Don’t Need Another Church Building

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In East Texas, especially in the City of Longview, the locals jokingly say that there is a church on every street corner. If you think about this, this means that the city’s original churches fractured and then multiplied. Division beget division; street corner after street corner was soon bestowed with a church.

Just as the Internet does not need another Christian video game site, the world does not need another church building. While it is true church buildings serve as a central place for Christians to receive Biblical teaching and fellowship with fellow believers, we were never meant to stay in one place. If you think about it, what do church buildings help foster? Isolation. Sure we can invite our “lost” friends to church, but do we? Most of the time, we fail at reaching out to those that Christ came to save for the sake of comfort. I’m guilty of this. Why invite an outsider to Cheers, right?

Instead of hanging out in fortified churches, how should we be reaching out to those around us in our community? My friend Scotto happened to hear the rapper Lecrae speak on this at The Resurgence Conference the other day. Lecrae talked about how:

…he intentionally lives in Atlanta because all the other major rappers live there. He wants to be in the culture, because he knows that God can use him there. Same goes for him using rap to spread the Gospel.

His points were:

1. Engage the culture. (Learn the culture, speak the language.)

2. Love the culture. (Really develop relationships. Care about people. Don’t just wait for opportunities to give your gospel points.)

3. Rehabilitate the culture. (How can you restructure what you already do to glorify God?)

I do think that it is important that we, as Christians, grow and fellowship with one another. I just think that the emphasis on the building, that some churches put into theirs, is wrong. The Church isn’t about the building but about the people. We need to be engaging, loving, and acting as Christ’s hands and feet in this broken world, with or without a building.

What do you think?