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digital discipleship
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Digital Discipleship: 3 Powerful Tools to Deepen Kids’ Faith and Reach Families!

Full confession. Technology and I have a tenuous relationship. As a child of the 70’s, I’m a digital immigrant. Fax machines, landlines, and inter-office memos—we all go way back. (Maybe you can relate!) But today’s kids, families, and many leaders are digital natives. Screens and pixels are practically their first language! So how can we intentionally use digital resources to help deepen kids’ faith? How can these tech tools reach families in powerful—and natural—ways?

To learn more, I reached out to Brittany Nelson, author, kidmin leader, and creator of An expert in the realm of digital discipleship, Nelson eagerly shares the possibilities that open when we use technology in ministry.

Embrace the Reality of a Digital Day-to-Day

First, it’s time for an attitude check. Oftentimes we get frustrated at the ever-present, almost invasive, presence of technology. But Nelson—a Millennial—cautions against judgement. “I acknowledge the negative effects this digital age can have on our relationships, attention spans, and self-esteem, but the digital world is the world into which we were born. Children’s ministry leaders can fault a generation of kids and parents for living in the only reality they’ve ever known, or we can step into their realities to reach them with the gospel and teach them about Jesus.”

(You can discover more about reaching and teaching digital natives here.)

Be Open to Digital Discipleship

Digital discipleship? Wait…wasn’t Jesus all about face-to-face relationships? Can we really disciple kids through digital means? One way to approach this contemporary way of thinking is to consider how Jesus taught. He used common things in his time to reach and teach—fish, mud, sheep, and seeds. Is using digital resources in our time any different?

Nelson encourages leaders to break down the concepts. “Discipleship in the broader sense is the process of guiding someone into a deeper, more vibrant relationship with Jesus through teaching, encouragement, and personal connection. Discipleship in children’s ministry means partnering with parents in that continual process of growing kids deeper in their relationship with Jesus.”

“Digital discipleship, then, is the process of making disciples through digital methods. Notice that the end goal, making disciples, doesn’t change. But the method for doing so adopts a digital influence. The digital world offers children’s ministry leaders another tool we can use to share the gospel, and I’d argue it’s the most powerful one. The way we communicate and teach the message of the gospel must be updated to reach the digital natives we now serve.”

Tap Into These 3 Digital Resources

So what does digital discipleship look like, in practical terms? What should children’s ministry leaders be doing to reach digital natives—kids and parents—in powerful ways?

1. Texting

Texting may almost seem too personal, but it’s practical, as most of us check our texts frequently. Apps like Remind or GroupMe allow you to easily communicate with parents, even scheduling texts ahead of time in coordination with your lessons. Texts are also more reliable than take-home papers which often get left behind.

Nelson shares another practical plus to texts, “One of things I did as a children’s pastor was in addition to sending home a physical take-home sheet on Sunday mornings, I also texted 2-3 discussion questions to all the parents using a texting app. As families were headed out to lunch or home for the afternoon, parents had easily-accessible conversation starters.”

(Check out Simply Text for an easy, mass-texting option!)

2. Social Media

You can’t deny that most parents are on social media nearly every hour of every day. “Since adults spend more time than we’d like to admit on social media, it’s a great way to encourage and equip parents.” But Nelson cautions that—like any other resource—it takes intentionality and skill to maximize the impact of social media. “One mistake I see a lot of leaders make: They use social media as a billboard instead of a place to engage with and connect with families. Rather than merely posting announcements and reminders on your social media, use it to share ideas, encouragement, resources, and more with the parents in your ministry.”

Look for curriculum that includes social media packs, such as Group’s Scuba VBS. Thematic graphics and Bible art can give you a head-start in crafting personal messages just for your ministry.

3. At-Home Resources and Training

Technology allows us to reach kids and families quickly. The ease of clicking a link raises the potential for actual engagement. Nelson encourages leaders to take advantage of this by sharing excellent resources that matter to parents and kids.

“Consider equipping parents with resources that address lifestyle and everyday topics from a biblical worldview. Offer simple ideas for faith conversations at home. Share a Bible story video with families, then one or two activities for them to complete at home that use minimal supplies.” You can find a list of faith-based apps and resources for kids and families that leaders can share in Nelson’s book, Time to Update: 7 Areas to Integrate Digital Discipleship into Your Children’s Ministry Strategy.

Links to family-friendly music or videos, like the ones on Lifetree Kids, are a super start! Or check out the Gospel Adventures Show, a faith-based, interactive podcast kids and families can enjoy together.

Digital Resources for the Win

While many of us still may have a wary view of technology, it clearly has a powerful place in our ministry efforts. Of course nothing can take the place of a children’s leader who gives comforting hugs, offers encouraging smiles, or holds a crying baby. Rather than viewing technology as a threat, leaders like Nelson encourage us to embrace the possibilities that digital resources can add to what we’re already doing.

She shares one example. “A kidmin leader in Tennessee shared with me about the Parent Collective events her ministry hosts 2-3 times a year. These events are an online, live-stream event geared toward resourcing parents. Her most recent one focused on mental health with kids and teens, and one surprising win was the reach these events held. With over 1,200 views on their latest event, the leader shared: ‘There’s no way we would have gotten 1,200 parents in the church that night, but through this online setting, we actually get to reach parents we wouldn’t or couldn’t get to our location.’ ”

Even us digital immigrants can find countless advantages in reaching today’s families with digital resources! (Want more tips for reaching families? Check out these insights about today’s families.)

Brittany Nelson is an author, speaker, and the creator of, an online hub of downloadable resources made FOR children’s ministry leaders BY children’s ministry leaders. She works to support children’s ministry leaders around the world by sharing resources and encouragement that grow kids deeper in their faith. Her other adventures include being a mom to the two sweetest little girls, reading as many books as she can, volunteering in children’s and youth ministry, and drinking lots of herbal tea. She one day hopes to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon dressed as her favorite princess, Belle.

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Digital Discipleship: 3 Powerful Tool...

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