I’m not sure if the church is aware of a ministry that Marc Middleton, our Director of Youth & Children’s Ministry, has been engaging in since 2020. I wanted to share about it in a post that is intended for parents and congregation and community members. Marc’s communication about this ministry is geared for the people he is trying to reach, youth thru young adults. and he does a wonderful job inviting them into something they understand and enjoy. But, I decided to do a focused post, bragging on Marc just a bit, and also sharing information on this ministry geared towards an older audience. Please read on to learn more about this unseen ministry that Marc has embarked on for several years.
Adults reading this may or may not know that since 2015, “Let’s Play” type of videos have been some of the most watched content on YouTube. Parents and adults get very confused oftentimes when they hear or see children watching videos of others playing games. Yet, this type of content is VERY popular and youth today are increasingly engaging with online content creators who stream their gameplay.
Parents should be aware of the type of Let’s Play content their kids are engaging in. Even if the game that is being played is age appropriate for your child, with many streamers or content creators, the additional content included may not be age appropriate or even appropriate for children at all.
Kids watch Let’s Play gaming streams for a number of reasons. They might watch because they want to level up in a particular game and see how another gamer solves a level or creates a story. They also sometimes watch the streams because of the social connection. Normally there’s a chat or an audio channel along with the content creator and so there’s a social connection developed into the stream itself. Sometimes they watch to have a voice in the background when they are working on homework, doing chores or playing their own games. Let’s Play content helps to alleviate the intensity of loneliness that many kids today deal with. Some kids may not be able to afford a particular game and they want to be able to talk about it with their peers. And, then there’s just the entertainment factor. YouTube Let’s Play content is entertaining for kids, especially if the content creator is entertaining. Kids get to know the personality of different streamers and look forward to their next video. They start to feel like friends with the streamer after chatting and interacting.
Because of all of that interactivity, it’s really important to know what content creators your children are interacting with and what values or teaching they may be providing in addition to the entertainment of gameplay.
What is CORE Gaming Vibes?
CORE Gaming Vibes is Marc’s dedicated “Let’s Play” type of content. He describes it to the youth this way:
Welcome to our Ministry! You will see some of the most chill gaming, reaction, and overall fun streams. We are a part of Bethany United Methodist Church in Clio, Michigan. Our mission is to share the VIBE of Jesus through this PLACE (positivity, love, affirming, caring, and encouraging.) Our goal is to let this be the place where the light of Christ shines the brightest. We hope to see you soon!Marc’s explanation of CORE Gaming Vibes for youth
CORE Gaming Vibes has it’s own unique YouTube channel where the streams are hosted. YouTube is the main place where this ministry happens. There’s also a Facebook page which is used to share the links to the streams on YouTube and share video highlights to encourage young people to head over to the YouTube channel. I encourage parents to Like the Facebook page and/or Subscribe to the YouTube channel if you are interested in sharing this with your children.
How does it work? What is included in a CORE Gaming Vibes stream?
In the interest of trying to explain this to other adults, I watched at least one hour of Marc’s Let’s Play gaming streams. I tried to watch ones from games that I’m somewhat familiar with (Legend of Zelda, Fall Guys, Kirby) and a couple that were more recent but I wasn’t familiar with. I watched one that was called “Unpacking” and I thought the game looked really fun. It appealed to my nerdy sense of organization. I might try it! He plays more popular games like Minecraft sometimes and he also plays games like “Episode” that the youth request. Sometimes he plays games that he wants to play. It’s a good mix!
Basically, you see Marc in a corner of the screen and hear Marc’s voice while Marc plays a game which you see in the majority of the screen. If he has young people live chatting with him during the stream, he will interact with them. You may see their chats on the screen. He has the ability to moderate this to ensure that what others watching see and hear is appropriate. You’ll often hear him encouraging those that he’s chatting with. Sometimes the people give him hints about something he should do or try in the game.
Marc also talks about his other ministry in the gaming streams sometimes. He might be telling people about movie nights or outdoor family night. He mentions some of his other “teaching” type of content that he has on the CORE Student Ministries channel. So, he’s cross promoting more biblical teaching content within his gaming streams.
Marc will read the “story” parts of games in a really engaging way. He also talks through what he’s doing. He’s authentic and funny and he shares much of himself with his audience. Marc has a really expressive face & voice which helps his stream connect with the viewers.
Sometimes the streams last a half hour and sometimes they might last 3 hours! From what I can tell, it depends largely on how fun & engaging the game is!
Who should watch CORE Gaming Vibes streams?
If you have kids who enjoy watching this type of Let’s Play content, I really encourage you to introduce your kids to the CORE Gaming Vibes channel. When your child watches this channel, you don’t need to be concerned about bullying or inappropriate content. You should always be aware of what your children are engaging with online, but rather than telling them you don’t want them watching any streams after finding out they were watching something inappropriate, redirecting them to a safer stream may be more effective. These streams are mostly geared towards school kids anywhere probably from 3rd grade to high school and even college. But, honestly, they could be enjoyed by anyone who is interested in the games he is playing regardless of age. Marc is a young adult and his content will appeal to an older audience who is interested in gaming streams as well as the younger group that many of his ministry efforts are aimed towards. Marc’s own generation watches and participates in streaming, Let’s Play type of content as well as the younger audience that he directs most of his ministry attention towards.
What can adults who don’t want to watch do to help with this ministry?
If you are a parent, introduce your kids to CORE Gaming Vibes. They might love it and the more kids who love it, the more it will grow. As this ministry grows, more unchurched kids will be reached. For some kids who never step foot into a church, engaging with Marc through a gaming stream may be the way they are introduced to Jesus!
If you are not a parent, but you have some in your network, you can click on one of these buttons and share either the Facebook page with parents and young people you know or share the YouTube channel with parents and young people you know. Keep in mind that all of the streams take place on YouTube, but the Facebook page will share the links to the streams, highlight reels and generally drive interested people towards YouTube.
I’d also of course encourage congregation members to include this ministry in your prayers. You can pray that this ministry reaches & blesses unchurched youth and young adults.
Experience CORE Gaming Vibes
Are you curious about what CORE Gaming Vibes is like? I’ve embedded the most watched video here:
Here’s a recently posted video which is a throwback of Luigi’s Mansion 3.
In Closing or what the kids call tl;dr
If you have young people in your life, they are probably watching “Let’s Play” kind of videos. Consider checking out Marc’s channel and other Christian gamers to help make sure that the content creators your kids are following are age appropriate. This ministry may seem strange to adults, but the truth is that this is the modern mission field. Unchurched kids are out here watching these videos and if Marc and other Christian gamers can reach them where they are, they can plant seeds of faith for future generations through the power of the internet.
Article Submitted by Elizabeth Whiting – Annual Conference Lay Delegate & SPRC Chairperson