By Sean Sweet
Most preteens love to play games. It’s how they can easily make friends. It’s how they learn. It’s how they deal with all the raging energy that’s coursing through their brains and bodies.
And today’s preteens (especially the boys) love to play games on the computer. Enter The Aetherlight.
Rather than explain what The Aetherlight is, let me place a little copy from their website (www.theaetherlight.com) and you tell me if you think this would be captivating to any of the preteens that you know:
“PLAY ONLINE WITH FRIENDS. Work together to uncover what happened to the Great Engineer. Fight in each other’s battles, share clues and tips to push back the fog in this role-playing adventure that puts you right in the middle of the Resistance’s fight for freedom.”
Wow! The preteen boy inside of me wants to jump out and join the Resistance right now.
Seriously, these guys get preteens. And I love what they’re doing, for 4 reasons:
#1. It’s completely focused on conveying Biblical truths.
The Aetherlight is not the product of somebody with a passion as a video game maker trying to answer the question: “How can we make the Bible into a game?”
The Aetherlight is the product of a group of people saying “How can we best reach preteens with the Bible?” As this group of people were trying to answer this question, Tim Cleary, a World Builder from The Aetherlight, says that somebody suggested: “Why don’t we make a game?”
#2. It involves the help of people who understand ministry and working with students in real life situations.
Before he was a World Builder for The Aetherlight, Tim Cleary was a youth pastor. This ministry-minded heart is obvious in the way The Aetherlight is presented. It’s clear from the way they produced a companion Bible that goes along with the game. It’s clear from the “Resistance Academy” that’s built into the game, which helps player to connect the dots between the game and the spiritual truths the game is presenting.
#3. It’s allegorical.
One of the most powerful ways of helping a preteen to understand abstract spiritual truths is by likening it to something more concrete.
Jesus was a great Likener (think of the parables). C.S. Lewis was a great Likener. And the team behind The Aetherlight are Likeners, too.
#4. It’s in a language that preteens connect with.
Like it says on “The Aetherlight.com”, kids don’t want to read the Bible. They want to experience it.
Just last week, I shared The Aetherlight with a 5th grade boy in our preteen ministry. That night, his mom posted a picture on Facebook of him checking it out, saying, “We are ordering this right now.”
Sometimes when I speaking to the preteens, I feel like I hit on something that catches their attention. You’ve probably had a few moments like this. For many of the kids in my ministry, an illustration using a Wii remote, or when we did Minecraft night last year, does it.
The Aetherlight is in the same language. It’s communicating the truths of scripture in a language preteens understand – a game.
I had a chance this past week to talk with Tim Cleary, World Builder from The Aetherlight. Check out the interview:
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