Just Push Play

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

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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

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

Kids love our Sunday School resources!

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

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


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

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.


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.


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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Children's Ministry Magazine

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