If you’re new to this blog or me, in general, you may not know that I’m a huge fan of video games. It all started when I was really little, playing the Atari 2600 with my cousin, going to the arcade, and eventually getting my very first game console, the Nintendo Entertainment System. Ever since, I’ve been hooked.
It was always a hobby of mine, but soon after college, it began to be more. Around the time of the Wii, I joined a blogging team and began to write about Nintendo news. Since then, I’ve reviewed tons of games, attended many different gaming events, written for a number of sites, and even regularly podcast about Nintendo.
With that background, let me tell you a story that happened recently…
Out of the blue, we had a middle school student fill out our church’s online baptism form to say he was interested in getting baptized. I didn’t recognize the name, and when I checked him against our small group records and event registrations, I didn’t find him anywhere in our system. I scheduled a time to meet up and chat with him and his mom. When he first arrived, he was incredibly shy, whispering to his mom rather than talking directly to me.
I noticed, though, that he had a Super Mario shirt on. So after striking out several times asking about why he wanted to get baptized, I asked him what his favorite Mario game was. At that point, things changed. I finally heard his voice, and he said something like, “Well, I haven’t played many, but I like…” For the next 20 minutes, we talked about Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, Smash Bros., and more! In fact, it was hard to find an opening to move the subject back to baptism, because he just kept talking.
The great thing was that I knew what he was talking about. I didn’t have to ask him for clarification or anything. I was able to just go there in the conversation. By the end of our time together, he was asking me if I’d be the one to baptize him.
While at my last church, I hosted video game nights at my house for some of the high school guys. I told them they could come over, eat my food, and hang out, but they had to bring at least one non-church friend with them. One of those guys they brought got really involved in youth group, went on mission trips with us, and right before I moved from that church to my current one, I was able to baptize him.
If playing video games will allow me to talk to more teenagers about their faith and point them to Jesus, then I’m never going to stop playing video games!
Now, I’m not saying everyone should play video games. And I’m not saying everyone should be into everything, just in case you need to have a conversation with someone about it. What I am saying is that God can use your hobbies and interests for His glory. And I’m also saying make sure you are paying attention to things students are into. You don’t have to be an expert, but at least being knowledgable will help.
On a side note, God has also allowed me to help out with an organization that goes to gaming conventions to tell people about Jesus, and I also write for their website.
So what are you into? And how has God used it for His glory? How has He used your interests and hobbies to open doors for you to share your faith with others? What are some ways you try to stay on top of teen culture in order to be relevant in your conversations with them? Let me know in the comments!