Several years ago I stood in front of a group of children’s ministry volunteers and leaders at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin.  For the very first time, I shared my thoughts on how digital kids learned and the challenges ahead for the field of children’s and family ministry.  One of the big questions from that presentation that has stayed with me over the past six years has been: What if children’s ministry became more like a video game than a book?

Steven Johnson wrote in his must-read work, Everything Bad is Good for You:
Video games are 3D landscapes and soundscapes.  They require complex muscular movements and the answers are almost never provided and there are multiple threads to constantly consider.  Games are often played in community, a global network of like-minded, diverse gamers.  The instruction manuals to many of these games are useless because the gamer is required to test the limits of the system.  Gamers are always asking, “What’s happening right now?

What if children’s ministry became like a video game?  Not cheap fluff entertainment, but a visually and mentally stimulating immersion into Biblical community and fellowship with Christ?

Because I am still wrestling with this question, this month I am going to highlight a few resources I have come across that relate children’s and family ministry to the practice of video games.

I’ll point you first to Gaming in the Classroom. Lee Sheldon, a professor at Indiana University, created a course that was modeled after a video game.  According to the blog, “Every student has an avatar name, creates group project in their guilds, and earns XP [experience points] for their grade.”  Check out the website. Sheldon even posts his Syllabus, Notes and Observations about the course.  As well as these related resources:

DICE 2010: “Design Outside the Box” The video that started all the buzz!

At Indiana U., a Class on Game Design Has Students Playing to Win The Chronicle of Higher Education

Professor Ditches Grades for XP System slashdot

College Game Design Classes Graded Like World of Warcraft Techland

Employers: Look to gaming to motivate staff itnews

Professor Abandons Grades for Experience Points the escapist

Prof Subs Grades for Experience Points, Presentations With Quest Switched

Fighting monsters, taking tests hastec

Professor Abandons Grades for Experience Points Technoccult

Build Your Own Sheldon Syllabus Terra Nova

Game Theory business bytes genes molecules

The Instance #182 – “It’s Pronounced Throatwobbler Mangrove” The Instance Podcast

Professor Users RPG-like Exp Rather Than Grades Tom’s Guide

Replacing school grades with an XP system The Escapist Blog

Is Game Design The Future of Marketing? neboblog

XP Replaces Grades in Indiana University Classes current

University class swaps grades for experience points Yahoo plugged in

XP Replaces Grades in Indiana University Classes GamePolitics

Game design professor beta tests a new grading system GamePro

More Role Playing in the Classroom Class Notes

Classes in a MMO format Tree of Life

Can a College Class be a Game? Of Teeth & Claws