Trend Quakes

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The top trends that could rattle your ministry
from the ground up — if you let them.

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Trend-spotting is best done by experts. It takes
a savvy person to distinguish the difference between a passing fad
that’ll waste your time and a seismic trend that could rattle the
very foundations of your ministry. That’s why we asked the experts
– leading children’s ministers, consultants, authors, resource
creators, advisors, and professors — to spot the macrotrends that
are poised to send quakes through your ministry.

Just as fads and trends differ, not all trends are created equal.
Macrotrends are emerging from the culture of children and require
serious consideration and change in course.

So hold on tight as we unveil what’ll be shaking, rattling, and
rolling in your ministry this coming year. Your mission is to
strategically create a ministry with an impact that’s off the
Richter scale.

Macrotrend #1: Family
Ministry

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Family Ministry is a strategy that directly impacts a child’s
spiritual growth by reaching the child’s entire family. It’s a
response to God’s directive for parents to train their children
spiritually (Deuteronomy 6:7).

Family Ministry acknowledges that our time with kids is limited at
church — one hour a week compared to dozens of hours at home. By
reaching the entire family, children’s ministers maximize
opportunities parents have throughout the week to help their
children develop a thriving friendship with Jesus.

Family Ministry degree programs in Christian colleges and
seminaries have increased, and the position of Family Minister is
on the upswing on church staffs. Increasing numbers of churches are
strategically hiring a Family Ministry staff person and
reorganizing their entire birth-through-high-school ministry under
the umbrella of Family Ministry. Each age-specific ministry area
plans, coordinates, schedules, communicates, and prays so
everything they do supports and equips families.

Family Ministry strategies span the spectrum from take-home papers
to intergenerational programs — with everything from family
events, parent training, resource libraries, and family counseling
in between. Effective Family Ministry churches have multiple
communication points for families: the weekly take-home paper;
downloadable podcasts of large group teaching; CDs to purchase or
take for free that families can listen to in the car; and weekly
emails to parents with tips, insights, and faith-nurturing
ideas.

Family Ministry churches invest in resources that equip families
with training and tools. Many churches have an online resource
library similar to Hill Country Bible Church’s Web site in Austin,
Texas. Parents can browse recommended resources for them and their
children that are available for purchase in the church bookstore.
There’s also a burgeoning offering in family-focused curriculum.
Programs that target families include Group’s FaithWeaver family of
resources that maximizes multigenerational learning (every person
studying the same Scripture in age-graded classes) and Northpoint
Church’s 252 Basics that focuses on intergenerational learning
(families learning together in the same environment).

“Family Ministry is a way to bring the
generations together. We are recognizing that by dividing our
ministries exclusively by ages and stages (children, youth, young
adult, middle adult, and older adults), we contribute to the
fragmentation of families. Family Ministry is not just ministry to
families and ministry for families, but also ministry with and in
families. We want to encourage more opportunities for our families
to experience life in Christ together.”

-Holly Allen, director of children and family ministries at
John Brown University

Strategic Impact: Retool your
ministry to focus on reaching families through everything you do.
Create a strategic plan from birth through high school that
integrates the family at each stage. Focus less on segregating
families and more on bringing families together for Christian
education — whether it’s in the same room or everyone in separate
rooms studying the same Bible passage.

Macrotrend #2: Wired
Ministry

Wired Ministry is the use of media and technology to capture kids’
attention and communicate the gospel to a media-savvy generation.
It’s a response to kids’ glassy-eyed stares when they’re taught in
ways that aren’t culturally relevant.

Kids today are “digital natives,” according to trend-spotter and
author of Trend-Savvy Parenting Mary Manz Simon. And kids
enter the digital world from birth. Manz Simon has tagged babies as
“mousers” who access computer programs called lapware via their
parent’s lap.

Kids today are Firefly cell phone-toting, video-game playing,
TV-watching, iTunes downloading, instant messaging wonders. The
proliferation of digital choices is not unique to children; it’s
just that children know nothing else but a technologically
saturated environment. As a result, their brains work differently,
their attention spans are shorter, and their patience for
nontechnological teaching is thin.

Wired Ministry pulls kids into the technology rather than simply
using media as a passive communication tool (that is, setting them
in front of a TV screen for the entire lesson). Video gaming
stations for kids to use before class are a good example of Wired
Ministry. Another one is interactive video countdowns where kids
are prompted to build relationships with one another — rather than
simply answer trivia questions.

Wired Ministry churches maximize the Internet for their
ministries. They have dynamic, secure, kid-friendly sites that do a
fabulous job showcasing their ministry while also giving kids a
reason to come back to the site — games, clues, changing content,
email capacity, and downloadable music and videos.

“I have a 7-year-old son who loves to go online
and play games. He has taken possession of my PS2, and now when I
bring my laptop home he leaves the PlayStation for online gaming. I
don’t want to make it sound bad; we limit his game time. When he
goes online it’s to play games, and I hear that from many other
parents…I am working on a new children’s Web site, and we will
offer 15 different games, hoping this will encourage kids to check
us out.”

-Russ Hill, associate pastor of children at First Baptist
Church in Rogers, Arkansas

Strategic Impact: Use multimedia
in your teaching every single time you teach. It’s not optional.
Spend the money to get the resources you need — a Web site, a
video projection unit and large screen for a large room,
televisions and DVD players for individual classrooms, gaming
stations for kids before class. Learn to speak digital to the kids
in your ministry in classrooms and online. If you’re not, then
you’re not speaking their language.

     

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