One of the challenges for churches during the lockdown period has been how to maintain their children’s activities when so many of them are focussed around being together in the same place. One activity that has leant itself well to being online is “Minecraft Church”. The way this might look differs significantly from church to church, but essentially involves children getting together in a curated church activity on the gaming platform Minecraft. Minecraft is characterised by creativity and, particularly when played with other gamers, co-operation, so in many ways a great place for a church to be.
How you set up a Minecraft space will probably reflect the way your children’s activities usually work, but will likely include gathering (teleporting) everyone to a church space on your Minecraft world that maybe looks like your church space in real life; some sharing of Bible text through the chat function; a building or parkour activity, or something to do with looking after animals; and possibly a representation of a bible story. The Bible Society recently ran a competition asking gamers to replicate and send pictures of a bible story in Minecraft.
In a live Minecraft church session, you would want to utilise Minecraft’s capacity for creative interaction, so you could infuse your bible discussion with explosions, dramatic weather, fighting foxes, itinerant traders etc. This video by a church in Australia provides a good example of how Minecraft can work as a children’s church activity.
Another hugely popular genre of Minecraft video on Youtube is walk-throughs of parkours that have been built for other gamers to explore; and this idea might translate well to a church space where children can each have an opportunity to move through a pre-built course with mini activities or learning moments along the way.
There are a few important things to consider before launching a Minecraft activity in your church.
- One is whether there are any children who do not have Minecraft. To play Minecraft, you need a computer or iPad or gaming console, plus the game which costs between £6.99 and £12.
- Also consider carefully how to make this a safe space for everyone involved. The specific details of the church space or world children are going to join should not be advertised publicly, but sent separately to the parents/guardians and children so you know they’re genuine members of your church.
- Third, remember to design your activity taking different levels of ability into consideration. Some children will be starting out in Minecraft and interested in the simpler tasks of basic building and interacting with mobs (particularly the animals), whilst some children will be capable of sophisticated builds using redstone and complex crafting.
- Whilst Minecraft does have a chat function, it is a bit clunky, and really only works for short amounts of text, plus not all your Minecraft builders will have the same level of reading ability. You will therefore probably want to have your members connected on a video chat platform such as Zoom so everyone can communicate directly about what’s happening the Minecraft space.
- Finally, when setting up your Minecraft world, remember that it’s easier to keep things under control if you’re playing in “Creative” rather than “Survival” mode (so no one gets killed), and if TNT and fire spreads are toggled off!
Thinking this might be something you could try in your church? We’d be happy to guide you through setting something like this up. Or if you’re already well into planning something like this, but want some help with advertising it, we have some great ideas here.