To say we’re surrounded by technology is an understatement; we’re immersed in it. And if you’re like my grandfather, you have technology immersed in you! (True story, but let’s leave Pop Pop’s metal hip out of this.) If you’re like me, you can look around right now and see a dozen or so things that plug in, require batteries, and transmit signals. We’re not keeping up with the Kardashians here; this is just everyday stuff.
In tech years, I’m like 100 years old. So if I’m familiar with the latest gadgets and gizmos, then it’s likely you are, too, regardless of your age or tech aptitude. This is the world we live in, and more importantly, it’s the language of our youth. The great thing is, we can embrace this new language and find helpful and creative ways to leverage technology in ministry. Most of these tech ideas work with things you already own or use, and they’re practical, affordable, and doable-so let’s get started!
Give your graphics glitz.
If you don’t have the time or know-how to create graphics for your lyrics, announcements, and presentation slides, then check out these links. Several ministries give away their design work for use in your ministry. Here are a few that are kidmin-specific.
Some of these sites give you the source fi les, which you can edit with Photoshop. If Photoshop isn’t in your budget, try GIMP. It’s a super-powerful photo editor, and it’s free (gimp.org).
Put music anywhere.
If you own an iPhone or use an iPad in your ministry setting, consider purchasing AirPort Express. This $99 gadget is a powerful Wi-Fi router. It has a USB port that allows you to make a printer wireless. But the coolest thing about the AirPort Express is its ability to receive audio through Apple’s AirPlay. (AirPlay capability allows you to play media from an iOS device-such as an iPod, iPhone or iPad-and stream it to another device such as speakers, TVs, or audio/video receivers wirelessly). As long as my iPhone is connected to the AirPort Express Wi-Fi signal and the AirPort Express is plugged in to the room’s sound system, I can stream music from anywhere in the room.
Go on Air.
My iPad is one of the greatest teaching tools I own. Sure, there are great apps such as YouVersion Bible, Logos Bible, Evernote, Day One Journal, Feedly, and the list goes on. But AirServer for Mac and PC is a game-changer. With this app, I can AirPlay my iPad screen to any display my Mac or PC is connected to, meaning I can wirelessly stream what’s on my iOS device to an Apple TV, AirPort Express, or AirServer. AirPlay along with AirServer and a good Wi-Fi connection lets my iPad instantly:
- become a mobile whiteboard.
- allow kids to read what I’m reading from my Bible app and follow along.
- go live with my iPhone’s camera. With live wireless video, you can put kids from the group onscreen, provide live testimonies, or get up close to the action when kids are engaged in a sloppy game so everyone gets to take part.
If you’ve ever wanted to show the entire group what you’re seeing on your small iPhone or iPad screen, now you can. Go to airserver.com and grab the seven-day free trial.
Play Musical Chairs.
Been there, done that, right? True, but with a DJ app you can put a new twist on an old game or use music in a fun, new way. Make kids move faster or slower by speeding up or slowing down the music. Play a song in reverse and have the group walk backward. If you have an Android device, check out DJ Studio 5, or on the iPad look for djay 2. Both are loads of fun.
If you’re looking for games with group interaction, look no further. The games on crowdcontrolgames.com are incredibly creative and super fun for Mac and PC users. My favorites include HeadGames, 1Arm 2Arm None, and RoadRace. RoadRace is dynamic- it’s controlled by the volume of your group. Visit crowdcontrolgames.com and look through their 12 apps with prices from free to $25. Your kids-preteens especially-will love ’em!
Power up parents.
You may not be using iPads or computers with your preschoolers, but you can share these ideas with parents in your next email blast or parent letter.
- The My First Hands-On Bible app is aimed at helping preschoolers experience God’s Word. The app is inexpensive and well worth the price.
- Another great resource is jellytelly.com. From VeggieTales and What’s in the Bible? creator Phil Vischer, jellytelly.com is a collection of faith-based clips, shows, and games for children that actually teaches the Bible to kids. It’s creative, engaging, and only $5 per month. Membership includes access to JellyTelly online and on devices such as iPhone, Android, and Roku Streaming Media Player.
Take pictures and video to the next level.
Kids love seeing pictures of themselves, and parents love seeing their kids in the spotlight. Whether you’re using a ministry camera or snapping pictures with your smartphone, make an effort to capture more ministry moments and share them. Pictures and video tell your ministry’s story. With the online service Animoto you can build amazing video slideshows to share online or download to play for your group. An Animoto membership can cost $249 a year, but if you’re a nonprofi t (yep, like a church), you may be eligible for Pro access for free. Head over to animoto.com/cause to apply. Note: Ensure you have photo waivers on fi le for all the kids in your ministry, giving your ministry permission to take kids’ pictures and post them on your ministry’s Facebook page, in slideshows, and on the church website.
Make it pretty.
Fonts are important when making a visual presentation or writing a letter. I beg of you, please use less Comic Sans. Okay, maybe never use Comic Sans again. There are so many great fonts perfect for church signage, letters, and presentation slides. Two of my favorite sites that offer thousands of free fonts are dafont.com and fontspace.com. Start with dafont.com and scroll through cartoon fonts; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
My hope is that some of these ideas will make your job easier and spark even more ideas or creative ways for you to minister to your kids. If you found one of these ideas useful, write in and let us know how you used it!