Excited about the Gamerscore carrying over on the new Xbox One but still got plenty of life left in the old Xbox 360 right now, too. Been a while since I did an update with mini-reviews, but since my console Gamerscore crossed 60,000 points it was a good landmark to jump back in:

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (A+): I can’t believe I haven’t played this incredible game yet! I got it for my birthday this past December and am absolutely having a blast with it. SO good!

Angry Birds: Star Wars (A-): Super solid game that has a fun license and a great formula that gets refreshed with some new weapons and locations. Plus I’m a sucker for anything Star Wars, lets be honest.

Angry Birds Trilogy (B+): Not a lot new here except everything looks great on the TV instead of a small touch screen device. Fun to play this game on the console, even if it is a bit dated at this point.

Star Trek (C): This game wasn’t great, but I played it start to finish anyhow. Loved the new movie this summer and enjoyed the game even though the controls were despicable and the graphics were very average.

Bioshock: Infinite (A+): Another incredible game that is simply a must play. Very mature content and at times graphic, it is a wonderful journey through a steampunk flying city with tons of mysteries to solve. Epic game.


This week our Xbox 360 crossed 58,000 in Gamerscore – thanks in part to the next installment of the Halo franchise. Took a break from gaming this week to give you a few quick reviews:

  • Jetpack Joyride (A+): One of the funnest iOS games makes its way to Windows 8 and is incredibly fun on a laptop. Such a great game – play it on whatever platform you can, the game is genius.
  • Halo 4 (A+): This may very well be the best Halo game ever made. As a fan of the franchise since the beginning, it was fun to pick up a copy of the game and play straight through it in 4-player co-op. Incredible cinemas. Epic multiplayer. Unreal graphics. Fun x 1000.
  • LEGO Batman 2 (A-): Another winning installment in the LEGO video game franchise. Such a fun game – my kids ate it up and have already beaten it several times. Super, super fun family game!


Xbox Gamerscore Hits 57,000

 —  September 6, 2012 — 1 Comment

The start of the school year means I’m going to be slowing down playing videogames, but the past week was once again great for Gamerscore, largely in part to one incredible game:

  • Once Upon a Monster (A+) – easily the very best kids game I’ve ever seen. My kids adore this game, it is incredibly creative, uses Kinect and accessible for all ages. Managed to pick it up for <$20, wish I had bought it sooner. Absolutely perfect.
  • Marvel Super Hero Squad (B+) – another kid-friendly game the kids loved. Play as the cutest versions of Hulk and Iron Man that you’ve ever seen.


It has taken me longer than usual this month … too much real-life/youth ministry getting in the way of my videogaming, but my Xbox360 gamerscore is now up over 55,000 points. The 1,000+ increase over the last update was due to some serious and not-so-serious gaming:

  • 007: Blood Stone (B+) – fun James Bond game, run and gun the whole thing
  • Air Conflicts: Secret Wars (D-) – completely unplayable. Bummed I even paid $16 for it.
  • Kinect Sports: Season 2 (B+) – fun for the whole family, really really fun.
  • Madagascar 3 (C+) – kids loved this one, we never did see the movie!


The Call of Duty Dilemma

 —  February 16, 2012 — 3 Comments

Got a question in from one of our parents this week – it is a question we’re getting quite often and one I’m answering in my own home as well. A parent asked this:

I’ve been researching online because of a dilemma I have. I have 3 boys, a 9 yo. a 6 and a 1 yo. my 2 elder boys love to play Call of Duty. I know it is a violent game, but I just don’t know the right words to say to discourage them from playing it. I tried my best to say that its a violent game and its not going to do them any good but I end up losing the argument when they start saying that they are the only ones in class/group of friends that doesn’t play it.

I asked Parker to reply (he’s the resident game along with myself), and thought what he shared was excellent. He gave me permission to reprint it here on the blog in case it would be helpful to you!

Hi Parent!

Great question! First and foremost, you’re completely right. If you feel like a game is too violent, you have every right to restrict your son from playing it. He may kick and scream, but you’re not doing anything wrong by being a parent. In fact, I’m really happy that you’re not just snatching the game away and enforcing BMSS Law (Because Mom Said So). That would probably cause more issue with him. I love that you’re looking to encourage him to do the right thing rather than force him. So here are my three thoughts on restricting teenagers from violent video games:

1. Explain more about how you don’t feel: Sounds strange, but when you only explain how you do feel and your teenager doesn’t agree with you, he’ll start filling in gaps on your side to justify why he’s right and you’re crazy. So, rather than just saying, “I don’t want you playing these games because…”, add “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you’re going to shoot up a school because you’re playing MW3. It’s not that I think it makes you a bad kid. I don’t even think it’s the worst game ever that’s going to corrupt your mind.” Every point you make about how you don’t feel is less ammo for him to complain about later. He won’t be able to say, “My mom’s crazy! She thinks a video game is going to corrupt me!” In reality, you’re trying your best to raise a Godly son and you want him to make good choices in what he does in his life. You don’t feel like violent games are a choice that honors God, so you want him to find an alternative.

2. Let him choose alternatives: Some parents are okay with games like Halo because you’re fighting aliens instead of humans (that’s your own comfort level). Let him know that you’re completely okay with other games (just don’t restrict them to LeapFrog games!). If he gets to choose other games, he’ll be less resistant because you’re partnering with him, not controlling him. Just feeling that ownership of decision making can make a huge difference. So, you’re setting the game boundaries because you’re the parent, but he’s free to play whatever game he wants (as long as they’re inside your boundaries). When you talk, focus more on the games he can plan, not the games he can’t. Make it a discussion, not a lecture.

3. Buy him a replacement: If you’re going to take away one of his games, I’d suggest offering to replace it. Remember, he didn’t do anything wrong by playing MW3. It’s just something you’re not comfortable with. So, instead of taking away something he enjoys and saying, “Tough luck”, consider buying him a new game that you do approve of. If he reacts well, reward him with a newer/better game of his choice. If he blows up on you, don’t get him a game at all, but make it very clear that it’s because of his reaction, not because he likes playing MW3.

The big thing is to work with him, not drop a bombshell on his gaming life. This stuff is important to teenagers and it helps them to know that you understand the impact it makes on their lives when you remove a game from their archive. Remember, you’re still the parent and what you says goes. Just give him and support the opportunity to deal with this on a mature, win/win basis. Hopefully things go well and he doesn’t get his whole Xbox taken away!!!

I’ll be praying for you! Keep me updated!


Life Outside the Church

 —  January 5, 2012 — 1 Comment

We eat, sleep and drink youth ministry.

Every once in a while I (Kurt) will have somebody say to me something like, “Youth ministry is my life…I don’t know what I’d do without it!” To which I want to reply something like, “Gosh…I am so sorry to hear that!”

It makes sense that so many of us feel like our entire lives revolve around our role as a youth worker. Think about it: We love what we do, we are convinced in its importance, teenagers are high maintenance, parents are high maintenance, and church elders are high maintenance! We are typically under a ton of pressure for numerical and spiritual growth in our ministry, and many of us are so insecure we have somehow managed to find much of our identity and sense of value in our roles as youth workers. If you recognize yourself in any of what I just wrote, don’t be too hard on yourself…you are in good company!

For these very reasons, it is vital that you determine to have some sort of a life outside the church! Not sure what we mean? Here are a few suggestions:

Make friends outside the Christian bubble
As much as we need, and love, the connections with fellow believers, be sure you aren’t living in a weird little Christian bubble. It’s shocking that despite all the “missional youth ministry” language that is so popular, so few youth workers truly live a missional life. The reality is the longer you are a follower of Jesus, the fewer and fewer non-believing friends you tend to have, and the less and less time you tend to spend with them. Your circle, instead of increasing and becoming more inclusive, has a natural tendency to decrease and become less inclusive.

Enjoy your hobby
Spend some time enjoying what you enjoy. In the hectic pace of ministry you can lose sight of just “checking out” and having fun. For me (Josh) it is all about Call of Duty or trying not to accidentally crash my Air Hog into the community pool. For me (Kurt) it is all about dirt bikes or reading a good book. Find something you enjoy and do it. We encourage every youth worker to take their day off seriously — don’t sit at home working on that talk that needs finishing. Relax, refresh and re-energize by doing the things you love to do!

Take some extended time off
Building a life outside the church isn’t an easy task — especially if you are in a pretty deep rut. We’ve learned that a single day here and there usually won’t break the habits so many of us find ourselves in. If you have the freedom to do so, consider taking some extended time away from the church. Take back-to-back vacation weeks, escape for a 48 hour silent retreat, Call an old friend from high school and schedule a fishing trip or scrap-booking weekend (that one was Josh’s idea).

Do you eat sleep and drink youth ministry, too? Take a break today!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Every fall several video games come out that have huge implications in youth ministry; this fall is no exception! The question is: are you aware of the power of video games? Here are a few stats you might not be aware of…

  • 65% of all US households play video games
  • 2 out of 5 gamers are female
  • 18 hours is the average time spent per week by gamers playing video games

So, if the majority of households in the US have video games, and 2 out of 5 gamers are female, and the kids who are playing games are on average spending 18 hours a week playing them, shouldn’t the church be a little more vested in them and tap their redemptive potential? Can video games teach us anything? Everyone does sermon series on movies, what if you did a series on video games?

Here are 4 titles that your kids will be playing and what you need to know about them:

Modern Warfare 3

Been a challenging fall to get in videogame time – between the fall kickoff of our youth ministry and the launch of Life Groups – there’s little time for fun and games. However, today we finally hit another 1000 point increase in gamerscore, thanks in part to Gears of War 3 (A+), Toy Story 3 (A), Kinect Sparkler (B) and Sonic Unleashed (C).