Why do kids love screens so much? And how can we minister to children whose minds seem centered on electronics? Here are 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 or streaming video.
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 today 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 available 24 hours a day. Kids can stream movies 24-hours-a-day. Children’s movies are a dominating force the entertainment industry. Almost everything kids are exposed to today is geared to enter their hearts 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.