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Church using Minecraft to make Bible come alive in virtual youth group meetings

by Tola Mbakwe

A church in Leicester is using video games in their virtual youth group sessions during the coronavirus lockdown as a way to connect with teenagers. 

St John the Baptist Church said young people in their church already spend time on Minecraft and thought it would be good for them to also play the game from a Christian perspective. 

Minecraft is all about building everything in the world in block form. The church created an online server, which is a multiplayer version of the game, so young people could interact with each other on the game while learning more about their faith. 

Youth worker Josh Young said the teens would usually meet in church on Tuesday for youth group and are now meeting on Minecraft. 

"We created a church and then around the church, we actually attributed Bible verses which are like floating text. So as you walk around the building, you can see Bible verses. You can see for example, why we do communion, you can see why we support food banks, and some of the verses that go along with hospitality, and why we do worship, we've also got verses that support that."

Young said the youth have also started to recreate scenes relating to stories in the Bible. For example, they built a boat to represent Peter walking on water. 

"You can jump off the water and actually walk on the water as if Peter was doing then. It makes some of the Bible stories a little bit more experiential than when we're reading them out to them and they've got to try to imagine it."

The Minecraft youth group meetings have been a hit with young people asking for more than just one session a week. 

It was originally for the church's 11 to 17 year-olds, but has now expanded to younger children as they've been asking to get involved as well. 

"Our children's worker has got an account, and we're starting to run sessions simultaneously, Young said. 

"Because of the way that we've kind of programmed elements to the game, we can actually keep them separate so they can interact with their own friendship groups, but we can all be on the same server at the same time."

He added that it's vital for churches to think outside the box and get creative when it comes to reaching young people during the lockdown. 

"I think it's really important to understand where young people are and where they spend a lot of their time," Young explained. 

"We need to adapt and consider ways that we probably haven't typically thought before, but at the same time remaining true to the principles and values and beliefs that we have. 

"It's not about compromising what we believe, but it's about looking for new methods."

Listen to Premier's interview with Joshua Young here: 

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