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Student pastors say itís about teaching them to think like Christcomment (0)

May 9, 2013

By Grace Thornton

Are violent video games a potential problem for students?

James Hollis says absolutely.

But Hollis, minister of youth and discipleship at Sixth Street Baptist Church, Alexander City, said he doesn’t spend much time focusing on that with the teens he leads.

“I don’t see teaching them not to play or to play certain things or watch certain things as helpful,” he said. “Changing behavior is not my goal.”

The issue, he said, is a much deeper one.

“My job is to expose them to God’s Word and help them see and savor Christ alone,” Hollis said, noting that as teens grasp who God is, they begin to think like Him.

“I have had students begin to play these games less … as a result of just not finding pleasure in that anymore. I encourage my students to love what God loves and hate what God hates,” Hollis said. “These things last; not our temporariness.”

Bruce Crockett, minister of students at Agape Baptist Church, Scottsboro, agreed that violent video games definitely have an impact, but the main problem he sees is their addictive nature.

“They become time wasters and idols,” he said.

Crockett doesn’t talk much with his students about whether or not to play them but instead about the “issue that when we want to spend more time with technology than with the Creator, then something is wrong.”

Donnie Sisk, pastor to students and recreation at First Baptist Church, Pelham, agreed.

He asks the questions “why?” and “what?” when he talks with his students about game consumption:

Why are you playing?

Are you attempting to fill a void in your life?

Are you lonely?

Are you trying to get attention or affirmation from your friends?

What are you communicating by playing?

What value does the game have for you?

What benefits do you gain for God’s Kingdom?

What else should you be doing?

What is the ratio of time spent playing to time spent with God?

“What we feed becomes our need,” said Keith Beatty, worship and youth pastor of First Baptist Church, Fairfax.

And consuming violent video games in mass quantities “is not only derogatory in their walk with Christ but affects their interaction with the world around them,” Beatty said.

At what point, he asks, did society stop evaluating the content of what children and teens mentally consume?

“The bigger question is why parents look the other way while their children spend countless hours playing games that glorify death, hate and hostility,” he said. “God should be honored in all that we do, all that we say and in all that we play. We should fight for the minds of our children and defend their future by guarding their present.”

Andy John King, minister of senior high youth/college and career at Lindsay Lane Baptist Church, Athens, said he teaches his students to “evaluate everything they take in by the standard of the Word of God,” and he teaches them why.

“Filling their minds with violence, sexual images or terrible language may show itself in their lifestyles, and if it does, they can expect damage to their reputations and relationships and worse, their witness,” he said.

Parents should be aware that students today “can gain access to just about anything — more than they (parents) probably think,” King said.

“It is important that parents safeguard what their children are taking in and have real discussions about the dangers of allowing anything and everything into their minds,” he said.

It’s time for parents to up their game, said Steve Walters, minister to students and missions of Camden Baptist Church.

“Students are flooded with violent imagery, and simply telling them to turn it off may be good advice, but it falls short of thinking critically on the matter; moreover, such an approach will do little to influence an increasingly thoughtless, entertainment-hungry culture,” Walters said.

Parents have to train their teens to question the ideas that the culture presents and not just accept them, he said.

“Our battle against the message of entertainment violence is a battle for our hearts,” Walters said. “Whether intended or unintended, our value as God’s created people is diminished through violence vending, and God’s values are assaulted.”

If what God says about His love for the world is true, then “life is so valuable it is worth dying for,” he said.

That thought should drive parents and students to think critically about entertainment violence, Walters said.

“Can we pursue Spirit-led critical thought that calls our students to decide who they will be? Will they be a generation of voyeurs, effectively reducing the value of life, or will they consider the great value God places on life?”

To read a related article, click here.

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