Secret Hitler?

Posted: December 16, 2021 in Uncategorized

I have a friend named Todd. No, he’s not what the title refers to, work with me. Todd works with a wonderful ministry that helps people in ministry who have been hurt, mistreated and often fired by their churches. His specialty with this ministry is youth pastors and he does wonderful work. Every time I talk to Todd, I thank God for His ministry and for my congregation that treats me so well, indeed so much better than some of the folks who cross his path have been treated. Thank God for Todd.

I should also point out, that while my role is now senior pastor, I still am very passionate about youth ministry. I love speaking to youth and I love encouraging youth workers. To my mind they have one of the most vital ministries in the church, and deserve a lot better treatment from the church than they get… well most of the time.

Because I love youth ministry and youth workers so much, I am a member of a few online youth ministry groups, and as a result I have forwarded a few of the harder stories to Todd, so that he can minister to the people in question. There are times however where I think there are people who are trying to become clients of my friend by their actions. I saw an example of this today. A youth worker asked if the group thought he should play a game called “Secret Hitler” with his group. Now I will confess, I have never heard of Secret Hitler, I don’t know how it’s played and no I did not do my homework. I got stuck on the name. I’m not closed minded, but there are some words that are trigger words and one of those, almost universally is “Hitler.” For the record I didn’t say the youth worker in question shouldn’t play the group. Instead I suggested that if the game has a spiritual point, he should change the name of the game.

Here’s why. When I see these types of questions, I put on two hats. The first is my parent hat. If my kid came home and told me he went to church tonight and they played Secret Hitler, I am quite sure I would have a knee-jerk reaction. My hope is my relationship with my child would have been such that we would have had dialog about it, but I’m not sure I would have been able to resist the urge to complain first. Secondly, I put on my pastor hat and wonder how many irate parent calls would have come right to me, how I would have fielded them and the long conversation with said youth pastor would have followed.

When we are in ministry, one of our responsibilities should be discernment. We should looks at what we are doing with a critical eye, decide whether or not what we are doing is within bounds or whether it will cause unnecessary offense. When it comes to things that will bring unnecessary offense, few things will do that like the mention of Hitler, especially in a game. Something as simple as a name change could save a whole lot of heartache and maybe even a call to Todd. If we’re going to push the envelope in our ministries, it should be toward things that are biblical, like a radical commitment to faith, not questionable names for questionable games.

Please use discernment. And if you’re in ministry and you have been treated badly or just need help, contact me and I’ll connect you with Todd.

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