Kids’ Ministry Needs Social Media?

Technolgy blogDo you speak social media? If you don’t know what the question means or answer it in the negative, your church may have a problem. And your kids’ ministry mostly likely has a problem.

At the end of 2015, only 17% of people between the ages of 18-24 and only 21% of people between the ages of 25-34 regularly read a newspaper. In fact, only 20% of all Americas use newspapers to access the news. Moreover, only 38% of people between the ages of 55-64 daily read a newspaper every day.

What do these stats mean? They are telling us that newspapers and magazines are no longer the driving force shaping the worldview of our congregations.

People are going digital. According to a pew research study, 62% of US adults access some news through social media. And 38% of Americans access news primarily through the web and social media. When it comes to millennial moms, (those between the ages of 18-34) 99% of them are on Facebook. Eighty-six percent use social media to influence others. And 87% percent of them turn to social media when looking for parenting advice and tips. In short, social media is increasingly the largest force shaping the American Culture. If our church wants to reach people, we must speak the language of social media. We must be willing to go where our moms are.

woman free smart phoneAnd we have the freedom to go digital. Smart phones are not evil. Facebook is not destroying America. Do people with sinful hearts misuse technology? Yes, and yes! But the technology is not the problem; the people are. We need to address the people instead of attacking the media platforms. We need to use social media to reach people misusing social media. If we draw a line in the sand over technology, we will undoubtedly cut ourselves off from the next generation.

Thankfully, we don’t have to do anything so drastic. Because social media is cheap and easy to access every church can have a platform. As the local church, we can fill Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds with helpful resources. We can promote events through pictures, we can share helpful articles, and we can create our own resources by producing videos, blogs, and podcasts. The Bible is still powerful today, offering hope to all. We just have to be willing to go where the people are.

I still believe that the preached word is still the most effectively tool in the church’s arsenal (closely followed by discipleship). We still need to meet together to worship the one true God (Heb. 10:25). But we must understand that our church members will not wait till Sunday morning or Wednesday night to have their questions answered. They are going to pull out their smart phones and flip open their laptops. And when they do, will they find anything from their church? Are we ready to speak into their lives?

Stop, Wait…Then Post: 3 Social Media Rules To Live By

stop think Post blogWe are the press. We can instantly write editorials on our blogs, comment on tragedies via twitter, and document triumphs on Instagram. With a smartphone and a few clicks, we can do in seconds what used to take newsroom hours to accomplish. We can communicate with the world more effectively than ever before.

In short, social media is amazing.  When used well, Christians can influence millions for the gospel with 124 characters and a picture. But the instantaneous nature of social media also brings great danger. What used to be limited to an ugly letter that never got sent can now become world news thanks to Facebook and Instagram. With few clicks, we can attack celebrities, businesses, and even our closest friends. In a matter of seconds, we can destroy relationships, compromise our faith, and divide our church.

But social media doesn’t have to be deadly. If we submit our social media life to the Scriptures we can find a better way forward. Admittedly, the Bible doesn’t say anything about social media. But, it says a lot about human speech and human interactions. In James 1:19-21, we read:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

3 Rules

1. Post slowly. While there is nothing wrong with using social media to inform our opinions, we must always be slow to speak. We must resist the impulse to comment on everything everywhere. Before we post, comment, and tweet let’s ask ourselves these questions: “Will my post offend my friends and coworkers; will my comments glorify God; will anyone be encouraged by my interaction?” If the answer is no, then we don’t post. And if you are posting simply to correct someone, don’t. No one asked you be their teacher. And a loving rebuke should always be delivered in person (Matt. 18). If you don’t have someone’s phone number, let it go. A couple of years ago, I tried to teach a former acquaintance how to be a better Christian via his Facebook wall. After a few days of arguments, he defriended me. We will not win a brother from a distance. Besides, God can mature people without our witty corrections. Let’s be slow to post.

2. Don’t post in anger. Remember that the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. If we are angry (even rightfully so – which doesn’t happen often), let’s take our cause to God. We often turn to social media because we don’t want to submit to God and to divine justice. We want instant gratification. Instead of making God our refuge, we find comfort in letting theman-791049_1920 world know that Bobby is a jerk. We find comfort in saying, “I don’t usually callout people, But…” And as the number of like’s goes up, we feel justified.  But we’ve not won Bobby. We’ve not helped him get right with God or even grown in our faith. Our anger has only made the relationship worse. Our gossip never produces their holiness. The next time we are angry, let’s put down our phones, let’s stay away from our laptops, and let’s turn off our tablets. Let’s ask God to show us the cause of our anger. Let’s spend time toppling our idols instead of murdering others on social media. And if we have been mistreated, let’s trust God to vindicate the righteous.

3. Speak the truth with love. Those who use social media well will direct people to others. Instead of filling our pages with ugly comments, lets praise others. Let’s post things that have encouraged our souls and that will encourage others. Let’s rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Let’s daily spend time in the word and let the Holy spirit inform what we tweet, video, and post instead of our emotions.

I mention the above rules not because you need them. I need them. My heart is wicked and can be persuaded to post all kinds of dumb and hurtful things in cyberspace. I still regularly have police my tweets with the above rules.  Although no one can perfectly master their social feed, (we can never perfectly master our hearts this side of heaven) we can become more like Christ each day. In turn, our use of social media presence can improve!

Three Great Apps For Kids

amazing apps for kidsKids love phones. Just ask my 14-month-old. Every day, he happily squeals “Yeah!” as he chases down his mom’s Iphone. He finds pure joy in watching himself on the miniature screen.

We shouldn’t be too surprised that our kids love technology. Most of us grew up with playing video games (Pong, Game Boy, Nintendo, etc).  And many of us can remember the day our dad brought home the family’s first computer. We are a technological people.

Tom Rhainer QuoteAs our kids follow in our footsteps, we need to provide them with some guidance. The first step is to put locks and filters on our phones, tablets, and devices. If we don’t, we are guaranteed to pick up a few unwanted charges. Even the venerable Dr. Thom Rainer (President of Lifeway) is susceptible. Beware of the little fingers!   

But we don’t have to stop with protection. We can also proactively introduce our kids to great content. Below our 3 of my favorite apps for kids:

  1. The Bible App For Kids

bible app for kidsDesigned by the creators of “The You Version Bible” app, “The Bible App For Kids” is a perfect blend of colorful fun and truth. This digital kids’ Bible comes complete with interactive stories that cover everything from creation to the new heaven and the new earth. You can have the app narrate the stories. Or you can mute the narrator and read the story to your kids. And your younger kids are sure to love the flapping birds and dramatic Bible character animations. And the best part of all is the price. The app and all the stories are free. Click here to download it!  

Click here to download the “You Version Bible App”

  1. Gospel Project App

Gospel Project App 1This is app makes Sunday school mobile. Featuring the music videos and the animated Bible stories from the Gospel Project Sunday school curriculum, the app offers your kids hours of entertainment/instruction. In addition the app also comes with coloring pages and several other interactive games that help enforce the biblical lessons. If your church uses the Gospel Project, make plans to download this app. The app is free, but the lessons are not. You will have to purchase each quarter for .99 ($2.99 for your ipad). Click here to get the app!

If your church uses Bible Studies For Life, have no fear. Lifeway offers a kids’ app for that curriculum as well. Click here to download it

  1. Magisto

Magesto app 1My son likes movies. This app is perfect for him/us and for all parents who need movies quickly. The app automatically pieces together your videos and pictures into short films complete with transitions and music. The free version limits your videos’ length to about a minute and forces you to pair your clips with the app’s music. The paid version gives you longer videos and the ability to import your own music but is a touch pricey (A subscription is either $4.99 per month or $19.99 a year) But the free version is a hit with my little one! Its easy to use and adds some flare to your videos. Click here to get it!

What apps do you and your kids love?