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Just Push Play

Dale Hudson

7 amazingly simple but effective ways to reach today's visual generation.

A great task lies before you. You're in a room full of children, and you're trying to keep order, but nothing you try works. When you glance at your watch, horror strikes your soul: There are still 45 minutes left before the children's parents return! You've just used your last game and last song, and now you're wondering what you're going to do to survive the next 45 minutes.


Suddenly you see the magic button! You rush over and push it! The kids grow strangely quiet and sit down. They're mesmerized. You've captured their attention, and they're absorbed by what's in front of them. Why are they captivated? Because you just pushed play on the DVD player.

Yes, it's true. The children you and I minister to are part of the visual generation. Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias says that this postmodern culture "hears with its eyes and thinks with its feelings."

Due to video games, television, movies, and the Internet, the majority of children respond extremely well to visual interaction. The average child watches over 18,000 hours of television before high school graduation. Children see more movies than they read books.

As a result, they come to our churches with expectations that are out of harmony with our traditional approaches. What worked for previous generations may not be working for them.
You see, our message is timeless, but our methods must change to effectively communicate that message to children in this culture. Leonard Sweet, in his book SoulTsunami, says, "The church is still on dirt roads, or worse yet, cowpaths. We are trying to pave cowpaths with asphalt when we should be building the superhighway with electronics."

The secular world spends billions of dollars each year to convey visual messages to our children. Cartoons are now available 24 hours a day. Video stores are in almost every town and kids can stream movies 24-hours-a-day. Children's movies are produced constantly. They're all geared to enter the hearts of our children through their eyes. The secular world knows what the church has failed for the most part to recognize: What kids see, they remember.

Three years ago we decided with God's help to touch this visual generation through the language of their culture. We still have a long way to go and are constantly looking for ways to improve. We realize that change is constant and that we may need to do some things differently in the future, but as of today we've committed to do these seven things to touch this visual generation with God's Word.

TRAIN TEACHERS TO CONSTANTLY USE VISUAL AIDS AS THEY TEACH.

We've found that in today's culture, very few teachers have the ability to hold children's attention without visual aids. Experts tell us that we only remember about 10 percent of what we hear but as much as 50 percent of what we see and hear. When our teachers use visual aids, student retention goes up 500 percent! Experts also tell us that only 13 percent of our present knowledge came from the sense of hearing, but 75 percent came through the sense of sight.

We encourage our teachers each week to bring visual aids into their teaching. A simple object from your home can help the children in your class remember the lesson and put it into practice that week. A pair of your baby shoes and your current shoes can show how much you've grown physically and be used to encourage kids to keep growing spiritually.
Use videos, puppets, flannel boards, object lessons, masks, costumes, posters, puzzles, and anything else visual you can get your hands on. For a powerful visual, videotape your kids acting out a Bible story. Then plug the videotape into your television. Push play, and allow the kids to watch themselves.

USE PRESENTATION SOFTWARE TO THE MAXIMUM IN CHILDREN'S SERVICES.

PowerPoint and Flash computer programs have enabled us to make visual presentations. Every song, Bible verse, review game, and lesson in our children's services is projected on a large screen. With PowerPoint, we can place animated images in our presentations for a new visual level. There's something animated on screen through just about every part of our services. PowerPoint and Flash programs are excellent tools for sharing God's Word with this visual generation.

PLAY CHRISTIAN MUSIC VIDEOS.

Music videos are such a big part of today's visual culture. We use contemporary Christian music videos to convey positive, life-changing messages to the children while they're waiting for the service to start or for their parents to pick them up afterward. We want to take advantage of every moment to touch kids visually for Christ. In our hallways, we've also mounted several televisions, and we have music videos playing as the children enter their classrooms.

Some children have been watching music videos during the week that don't portray Christian values. Christian music videos can show kids the love of Christ and a lifestyle that honors God.

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