Most parents out there have probably heard of Minecraft, a “sandbox” video game (i.e. a game that allows for a great deal of creative, free-form play) in which participants use blocks of material to build what they need. The game mainly functions in two modes: creative mode, which is purely focused on building and creating, and survival mode, in which participants must maintain health, build shelter, and defend themselves against “mobs” (monsters).
Minecraft is a terrific game — sort of like a virtual Lego world with infinite online possibilities. Players can make anything from basic structures:
…to more elaborate ones.
Educators are already aware of Minecraft’s potential in the classroom, to the extent that Minecraft has created Minecraft: Education Edition to accommodate teachers. But Minecraft can also be useful for both parents and Christian educators in teaching children about both liturgy and the Bible. Here, I outline some ways Minecraft can be used in Christian education.
A few notes before we begin:
- These ideas work best in creative mode so participants don’t have to survive and fight off mobs while building.
- This approach to Chirstian education works best for kids who already like Minecraft and/or games similar to Minecraft. Therefore, these suggestions assume that participants know Minecraft basics:how to get materials in creative mode, how to build basic structures, etc.That said,I will link to some Minecraft basics tutorials at the end of this post.
- Many opportunities to modify the game have been developed, allowing for extensive variations on Minecraft gameplay. The suggestions below do not require enhanced or modified versions of Minecraft.
So here are some ways to use Minecraft in Christian education:
Teaching about the church: When teaching our children about the church, we often talk about what the special objects and places in churches are and how we use them. We show them the baptismal font, the altar, the sanctuary, the choir, etc. Why not show them these parts of a church and then have them build their own Minecraft church building, alone or in teams? Where would they put the pulpit? The altar? The font? Depending on the kids, they could discuss stylistic decisions. Why choose clear glass or stained glass? (Both are options in Minecraft.) Why choose a small font or an immersion font? (You could use anything from a bowl to a fountain inside the church.) What significance would the choices they make have on worship? Kids can consider these questions as they work.
Teaching with structures: Want to teach kids what Noah’s ark looked like? The tabernacle the children of Israel used in the desert? Solomon’s temple? What about structures related to church history? Early churches? The cells where the desert fathers and mothers lived? Talk about what these structures looked like and why, and then have kids build their own versions in Minecraft.
Have kids tell Bible stories on Minecraft: Basic Minecraft creative mode allows players to write on signs or in books that can be opened and read. A Minecraft beginner might set up armor stands as people and create a series of tableaus telling a Bible story. In one image, Joseph, bedecked in fancy armor, could be annoying his brothers near a sign explaining what is happening. In another, the brothers could be standing over Joseph in a pit. Etc. More experienced players can dye leather armor to make it look more like clothing. They can even use command blocks to make characters move and enact the stories.
Other uses:Parents and educators can use Minecraft in all kinds of contexts. It need not be limited to structures and storytelling. For example, our Sunday school class has used it in worship. The kids each created a station for Stations of the Cross using Legos, paintings, videos, and other creative approaches for their stations. We brought in laptops and a couple of kids used Minecraft worlds to create stations. Then we went through and prayed the Stations of the Cross.
When I have used Minecraft to teach my own kids or Sunday School students about Christianity, they have brought incredible creative energy to their projects. Minecraft is a great place to meet many kids where they are and have them bring in their own creative energy into engaging these ancient stories, as well as our day-to-day church life. I hope you enjoy exploring possibilities with them.
Resources for parents (or kids who are interested):
- Minecraft Creative Mode Basics Tutorial (This is old, but the people who made it have updated it since they first published it, and it gives a sense of the basics for those completely unfamiliar with Minecraft.)
- How to Build the Best Starter House for Beginners (This is just to show some of the basics of building in Minecraft.)
- How to Build a Church (This is just one of many examples of Minecraft church designs. You can learn how to make stained glass, etc. from it.)
- The Unofficial Holy Bible for Minecrafters (My kids have enjoyed reading this children’s version of the Bible.)
There are literally thousands of videos like these. You can find tutorials on everything from the basics to building particular structures to making particular elements. Play around on YouTube and you should be able to find what you need.
Also, ChurchNext is building a course on using Minecraft in Christian education. Look for it in winter/spring of 2021. (Full disclosure: I’m a course designer at ChurchNext.)
Have you used Minecraft in interesting ways for Christian education? Please comment below and share them!
Liz Brignac is a freelance writer and the Senior Course Designer at ChurchNext. She lives in Cary, NC and is the mother of two kids, ages 9 and 12. She’s incredibly grateful for her elder son Joseph for creating the Minecraft images used in this post.
Dalton Toebben says
Hey, my name is Dalton Toebben. Me an my friends grown up playing Minecraft. We have had a Christian Minecraft Roleplay server, using it to spread the gospel an teach kids all over the world to love their neighbors. We have had it for about 9 years. Still going on haha. Well recently my friend was overseas and presented an opportunity to me about taking a big step up. Minecraft is so unique an has many features to it. My friend was telling me about a server called “The uncensored library” which is a minecraft server dedicated to give people a chance to speak out all over the world. It primarily serves for countries who may have restrictions on their freedom of speech. It was put together by “Reporters without Borders”.
We thought that it was so amazing that people were able to use something as small as a video game to serve such a bigger purpose. So we thought.. how could we do something like that but to help spread the gospel an the teachings of Jesus. Well my friend an I are trying to get a team of supporters to help us get the ball rolling an create a Minecraft server dedicated to helping spread the Word of God. We currently are talking to a company upon building the server for us, as well as many other things.
Anyways, I was hoping maybe you would like to join our team! Right now we are trying to get a team together of people who may believe in what we are trying to accomplish. Spread Christianity through Minecraft! We can always discuss it further. We are primarily using the app, discord to communicate. If youd like you can add me there, ID: WedgeNaut#0291
Or email: email@example.com
Asa Oliver says
I am a Christian teenager. I have played Minecraft for a very long time, and have enjoyed it. I agree, this can be a great tool to teach about Christ, Christianity, and to build Bible stories. I think that this game can be great, even with the monsters. If the monsters are a problem for people, there is a way to fix it. There is a game mode called “Peaceful” where no monsters spawn. I played in that mode when I first started.
I am thankful that games like this are being used to the glory of God. Keep up the good work!
Jessie Lutz says
I was under the impression that the evil characters weren’t present in the creative side of minecraft either like what you mentioned in your last comment Elizabeth but unfortunately, I was wrong and have discovered that both my children have been exposed to all sorts of things during creative activity of building such as, endermen, portals, witches etc. We do need to protect our children without a doubt and just be more aware.
Creepers do appear in Creative Mode. They don’t bother you…they just walk around making ugly noises like monsters.
You can also spawn creatures in creative mode like witches, dragons, creepers, and things of that sort.
Here’s the thing…it’s a slippery slope. When they play with friends, they say it’s boring in creative mode and they want to join each other in Survival mode. Creative mode lost it’s interest then, and now my kids only want to play in creative mode. It’s a constant tug of war. It’s to the point where I am just eliminating it altogether.
Also, when you watch tutorials on builds, other videos show up on how to survive in creative mode. That’s how they learn about the more adventurous side of it. Even on the Kids Youtube.
It all comes down to not GIVING THE DEVIL A FOOTHOLD.
I do not understand how a Christian parent would allow Minecraft for any reason. It has a Creeper character that uses enchantments to do certain things. There are witches in the game and a mode with zombie characters. These are evil things. We are to flee evil. We are to have our mind set on things above, and on things that are holy, good, of good report, etc. Whether we eat or drink, or WHATEVER we do – it is to be done to the glory of God. You cannot play with evil/demonic things to the glory of God. Parents need to check out whatever game, movie, music, or whatever form of entertainment their kid desires, before allowing them to participate. Almost everything has garbage of some kind in it nowadays. The devil is after our kids. We need to protect them.
Elizabeth Brignac says
Hi Connie! Thanks for your feedback. The Minecraft characters to which you refer don’t appear in creative mode, which is the mode we recommend for these activities. Creative mode is strictly a building mode, with no mobs (monsters/enemies) of any kind.
That said, Minecraft in Christian education isn’t going to be a good tool for everyone. If the presence of mobs in the game, even in modes you aren’t using in play, is problematic for you, you probably shouldn’t use Minecraft to teach kids about Christianity. Not all tools work well for all parents/educators. Use the ones that resonate with you, that you feel you can use with creative enthusiasm.
I am gay as hell says
I love minecraft and I love being gay in hell🤗🏳️🌈
Jess L says
Good for you buddy! 😂
We all tend to love our sin…sin is what separates us from God. If you believe God loves you, then you know He only wants what is good for you. You are intended to have life for eternity with God. If you ask God to take away this thing that you can’t let go of, that you don’t even want to let go of. He will. And that can be scary.
I didn’t want to give up my sins, but I eventually saw that it was leading me away from true love. And then I realized that source of true love was of God. Who else would die for you… If you seek the truth, you will find it in Him who is Truth. Truth is not a negotiable idea…it is a person who loves you.