Air-soft ministry reaping spiritual fruit in Buda

BUDA?Many church leaders have turned their attention to reaching out to men. Pastor David Sweet of Hays Hills Baptist Church in Buda said he has read several articles over the past year that discuss the decline of men in the church.

“Oftentimes church is a little bit more of a woman’s domain,” Sweet said. He said the church has to do a better job of providing activities more geared toward men.

So his church is trying to do that, beginning with young men and even reaching a young female or two with a ministry involving air-soft pellet guns.

Sean Sivils, youth minister at Hays Hills, has two young boys and wanted to find a way to get them involved in male-oriented activities. Sweet described Sivils as “an outdoor type of guy.”

With his two boys?ages 12 and 15?and several of their friends, Sivils started an air-soft gun ministry.

Joining the terms guns and ministry may sound strange, but it’s working, attracting about 10 new students to the church campus every week to shoot and hear the gospel. A short devotion and gospel presentation is the cost of admission, Sivils said.

An air-soft gun is similar to a BB gun but safer. The gun shoots a 6 mm plastic ball instead of a metal one and can be operated with CO2 or a battery. They can range in price from around $50 to $1,500.

“It’s kind of like paintball,” Sivils said. “You can spend as much as you want on an air-soft gun.”

The games played with the air-soft guns are similar as well. There are several different variations of the game, but usually teams are divided up and the shooting begins. When a player is “shot,” he’s out. Last team standing wins.

The air-soft ministry started about a year ago. The group meets on Sunday evenings on the church campus, which has several acres of undeveloped land where forts have been built for the games.

Before the shooting begins, players take part in a Bible devotion. Sivils said he talks about a topic, such as leadership, from Scripture.

“And we get to share Christ every week.”

Recently the church hosted an air-soft lock-in, bringing in generators to power lights so the games could go on through the night.

Six people accepted Christ during the event, Sivils said.

Sweet said the ministry might not be “politically correct” with the guns involved. But, as Sweet reminds, most little boys grew up playing army with toy or imaginary guns.

He said there has been some who scoff at the idea of having guns?even fake ones?at church.

“We just explain the benefits of the ministry and they’ve adjusted to it,” Sweet said.

The church sees about 50 people show up on Sunday night to play air-soft. Of those 50, about 60 percent are members of the church. The rest either attend another church or don’t attend at all. The majority are teenage boys, but dads are also showing up and about seven or eight girls are usually part of the mix.

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