It’s vital for those of us in ministry to leverage digital technology that families are already using to move their faith from a weekly interruption to a daily integration.
It’s a digital world we live in. Today’s toddlers learn how to work an iPad before they can walk. They learn how to use a computer mouse before they can read. Sources estimate that 90 percent of today’s kids ages 2 to 17 play electronic games. Digital content on mobile devices is simply what today’s children know-because their parents use it. Families are comfortable and familiar with current technology. In today’s world, technology has evolved from an interruption to an integration into our everyday lives. It’s vital for those of us in ministry to leverage the power of technology that families are already using to help them move their faith from a weekly interruption to a daily integration as well.
Digital content can enhance kids’ learning experience and make your ministry more relevant to people’s lives. Fully 74 percent of educators say use of digital content increases their students’ level of engagement, according to onlineschools.com. If this is true in the classroom, it can work at church and at home.
The key here is intentionality. It’s essential to keep in mind that all digital and mobile content is for the purpose of creating, building, and enhancing offline communication and relationships. So be intentional about focusing your use of mobile and social technology toward that goal.
We’ve asked three children’s ministers who’ve led the way in digital ministry to share their stories and strategies on how they tap into technology to minister to families.
Digital Family Ministry: Make Contacts and Find Volunteers
Jonathan Cliff is the director of family ministries for Athens Church in Athens, Georgia (athenschurch.com)
Technology is the perfect way to engage parents in new and fresh environments. It’s an open door to families’ living rooms…as well as their coffee shop pitstops, doctors’ office waiting rooms, and the pick-up lines at school. Today’s tech allows children’s ministers the opportunity to engage parents wherever they are at any given moment in time.
Technology has made connecting easier on many levels-significantly in the anonymity it allows our parents. That’s because the opportunities for parents to privately engage can become a distraction if we never work to engage parents more fully on a relational level. But when we do it well, technology opens the doors to so many other ways to connect.
One especially effective way we’ve engaged parents through technology is to make it easy for parents to know what’s happening with their children each week. Physical take-home papers will always have a place in our churches, but technology allows these same resources to be e-mailed, text-messaged, and easily retrieved.
I always use a parental opt-in. Parents sign up for the technology option on their own accord. We may personally ask them, e-mail postcards with web links, and promote the sign-up-but it’s each parent’s responsibility to opt in. We think of this sign-up as a hoop we’re asking parents to jump through to get the information they want from us-and then we know parents who are willing to engage with us on this level. We have our leaders-without them even knowing we’ve found them!
Using this opt-in list as my source, I have a built-in list of parents who’ve shown willingness to invest in their kids’ church experience. This list of connected parents becomes my take-to-lunch crowd and my built-in focus group for feedback on new ideas. This opt-in option has allowed me to find the most engaged parents of all and strengthen my ties with them.