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Xbox 360-Driven Youth Ministry

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This post was originally called "Why Every Youth Worker Needs an Xbox 360" but then I realized that perhaps there's a remote possibility that not everyone should have one. Fine - there might be a few extreme cases where someone wouldn't want or need a console - like if you were born videogame-challenged or without the technology geek gene commonly found in many youth workers. So if you're on the fence I think I can build a moderate Lee Strobel-like Case for an Xbox 360.

This post was a request from a youth worker while I was in San Diego at the Youth Specialties Convention a few weeks ago. He basically said he was looking for some ammunition to support his purchase of a next generation console and I think there's actually some great reasons for youth workers to have one:
Quick and easy common ground with students.
The videogame is really directly from a students' world. The previous generation of adults didn't get to grow up on games and perhaps doesn't even understand the draw. But most students of today? They are people who know videogames. They know when the big games are coming out and treat it like a movie premiere. Many youth workers might not have seen the lines at stores at midnight for HALO 3 but it was the major media event of the Fall - raking in more revenue than the biggest movie, TV show or DVD release this year. And having a 360 says a lot about you - it says, "let's hang out, let me get to know you."

Enjoy some fun multiplayer.
When you do get a system you'll also need to pick up 3 extra controllers so you can really rock with the gang. Sure there's multiplayer over LIVE which is also critically important, but there's something about a youth worker and students sharing a living room and those tiny 1/4 screens. The comradery of a videogame moment - it has to be shared to be truly appreciated. You don't have to just play shooters (which have an element of controversy) but you can enjoy party games, Project Gotham Racing 4, Madden '08, and of course have a battle of the bands with Guitar Hero III or Rock Band.

Its a really easy icebreaker.
There's no better way to meet someone casually than to do it behind an Xbox controller. It's completely non-threatening environment. It's the student version of an adult's Styrofoam cup of coffee. Watch the sense of relief when a student enters your home for the first time and beams when they see the console's green lights.

Hang with your peers on LIVE.
One of my new favorite past-times is hanging with other youth workers on Xbox LIVE. Just this week I played games with people from my own church and other student ministries from four states. One of the guys even said, "Do you ever have one of those days where you want to leave youth ministry?" to a group of guys that has lived it and truly appreciates the sentiment. Can real community appear here? You can certainly taste it and hey, it's way more fun than Facebook.

Enjoy the great escape.
One of my favorite escapes from the daily grind of ministry is simply sitting on the couch with a videogame controller in hand enjoying some "me" time. Of course, this has to be balanced appropriately with family and marriage time as well.
OK, so not every youth worker needs one - obviously I'm having some fun with it here. But if you want to add it to your arsenal of youth ministry tools, I think there's some great community, interpersonal and individual reasons to pick one up.


posted by Joshua Griffin @ 4:08 PM |

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At 11/15/2007, Blogger bryant johnson said...

great post, josh.

At 11/15/2007, Blogger Lee said...

Josh. Great stuff. I'm a Wii man myself. Might look into a 360 though. So many great games and a bit more technology behind it. Plus the Live, is unmatchable by the other systems right now.
The Wii definitely has an easy, pick-mii-up-and-play sense to it. I've even had many girls grab it and enjoy it who would never touch any other controller. Many of the games and even the design of the system just has a fun, party, community sense to them. That's why it's even called the Wii. Because they wanted it to be for everyone. I'd recommend a console to anyone in youth ministry for all the reasons you mentioned. And if anyone figures out how to convince their church how to take it out of the youth ministry budget...let me know immediately...so I can get started on it at my church.

At 11/15/2007, Anonymous Stephen Thiessen said...

I love you. :) I'll keep you posted on how this goes...

At 11/15/2007, Blogger Steve & Melissa said...

This is Stephen Thiessen's wife, and my husband just gave me the link to this site to read this article.

You can imagine the begging that has been going on in our house to buy this little 360...but I suppose this article might end up being printed out and it just gives him even more reasons to buy it!

ahhhhh...this is every wife's nightmare!

At 11/15/2007, Anonymous stephen thiessen said...


At 11/16/2007, Anonymous Brian said...

Hey Josh! How can I find other YP's that are on LIVE? My gamer tag is BRich 99. I am in Indiana.

Brian Richardson
First Church of God

At 11/26/2007, Blogger Michael said...

Why buy a 360 when you can use your student's consoles? The last system I bought was a Super Nintendo - but I play 360 all the time. I consider it a firinge benefit. (But mainly if I had one in the house I wouldn't get anytyhing else done...)


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