Helping Kids Use Technology At Church

Church blog technologyThe rapid growth of technology is leaving no cultural stone unturned including our families and kid’s ministries. When asked to look up a verse, kids today can quickly pull out a Kindle Fire, IPad, or smartphone. Middle schoolers are taking selfies on hayrides, grade schoolers want pictures of the slimy goo game to be posted on Facebook, and preschoolers are navigating smart phones with more comfort than their parents. Technology has reached the little people. As church leaders, Sunday school teachers, and parents, we must decide how to handle this increasing influx of gismos. Below are five principles that will help us determine when to allow kids to use that:

  1. Remember technology is not inherently bad or good. Smart phones, tablets, and social media are all avenues of Instagram inconcommunication. And our God is all about communication. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Our concern is the content streaming through the technology. IPads can be a sinful distraction when our kids are posting selfies or playing Hay Day during the middle of a sermon. But, smartphones can also be a huge blessing when our kids use them to access scripture or to skype with a missionary a thousand miles away.
  2. Don’t be afraid of what we don’t know. We all naturally drift to what we know and like, becoming products of our age or decade. Having crossed the 30 year threshold, I too am quickly calcifying. As I drive around, I’m increasingly playing the “Cool Kids” radio. Translation: I am no longer cool or in touch. But I don’t have to be scared of every new app or tablet. Even if I don’t fully understand the technology, I can still discern the content being used and its timing by asking thoughtful and non-accusing questions. I need to fight the sinful urge to judge that which is different from me. After all the church is not about our preferences. The church is God’s and is all about our Lord. Even when dealing with technology, we must fight against the desire to place our comfort above God’s glory.
  3. Ask questions. Ask your kids to explain how such and such works. Ask them why they use it, and ask them to tell you who they are communicating with. Once we know what content is being accessed at what time, and for what purpose, we will be able to guide your kids in their use of technology. “No, Johnny you don’t need to Snapchat because you are selfishly disrupting the class to brag about how you destroyed your Twinkie.” “That’s great Susan, I had no idea you could highlight and save the verses we looked up today on your IPhone.”
  4. Welcome good technology. God has used the printing press, radio, and the internet to spread his kingdom. It’s quite Square-Facebook-Profile-Picpossible the next newfangled device our kid is using will further expand the kingdom of God. By embracing technology, we avoid offending kids (Telling kids to, “Put down your smart phone and read from the KJV” will cause them to be frustrated) and from making our immensely creative God appear to be dull and boring. God’s not opposed to new technology and the advance of science. And, we shouldn’t be either.
  5. Place a premium on the Bible. Regardless of what our kids use on Sunday morning, I believe it’s important for us to use a good paper translation of the Bible when teaching. By touching the Bible pages, we clearly show our kids that the Bible is real and that the words we are speaking carry an authority far greater than Facebook.

I’m curious to hear how your church and/or class handle kids using technology. What is working for you? What has been problematic?

Tweet, Post, Snap and Click for Jesus

[Websites are] now the first place a prospective guest visits when he or she is thinking about attending a church. – Rainer

your church needs social media

Its Here

Now some of you may be thinking, “Woo hoo…social media, website, Twitter; what’s the big deal?” I get it. I’ve been there too until recently. I still have yet to jump aboard the instagram bandwagon. The advancement of technology is real. And if our churches hope to avoid fuddyduddiness, we will have to embrace cyberspace.

Cyberspace Limits 

Now before I go on about the positives, let me address some of the limitations of social media. Technology does not save or improve the message of the gospel. Yes, the world of Facebook is helpful tool for sharing ideas, schedules, and content in quick and direct way. But a website, a Twitter Twitter Iconhashtag, and a Instagram account will not in-and-of themselves bring someone to Jesus. Salvation, discipleship, and worship are all still tied to local churches filled with real people. The web cannot replace the human relationships.  So then, why worry about websites and social media? Because as the president of Lifeway reminds us:

We miss opportunities to minister and share the gospel when we neglect social media. – Rainer

Why Connect

We should warmly embrace modern media because it’s where people live. Increasing numbers of Americans are married to their smartphones. As they embrace Facebook, Facebook IconTwitter and Google, Americans are abandoning newspaper and magazine in record numbers; and books – well they’re just plain long; they don’t even think about church bulletins. Most everyone wants information that we can interact with now. Not surprisingly the two biggest sources of news in 2014 are Facebook and Google.  And Fifty-five percent of Millennials (those born between 1980-1990) are making life decisions based on the websites and blogs (Rainer, 2011, p. 199). If we hope to reach twenty-first century families, our churches have to speak their language: the language of Facebook, websites, and blogs. As one former tech mogul notes:   

The Internet is now becoming the funnel into the church. If you are not using the Internet to conduct real ministry, then you don’t exist to the current generation of seekers—two million daily! – Wilson

Today, I am excited to report that FBCE will begin speaking the language of the twenty-first century more clearly. We will be launching a new website hoping to better connect with Eastman. I pray that FBCE’s improved web presence will help facilitate discussions, promote prayer, provide encouragement, welcome visitors, and display the gospel to Dodge County and the world. I invite you to check-out our new site. Good, bad, or ugly, feel free to let us know what you think of it.   

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Works Cited

Rainer, T. J. (2011). The Millenials: Connecting To America’s Largest Generation. Nashville: B&H