4 Up-and-Coming Kidmin Trends You Need to Know About
Published: February 28, 2017
The top-four kidmin trends that could impact your ministry — if you let them.
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 bigger 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 affect your ministry.
Just as fads and trends differ, not all kidmin 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 the top-four kidmin trends.
4 Up-and-Coming Kidmin Trends You Need to Know About
Kidmin Trends #1: Family Ministry
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 (Deut. 6:7).
Family Ministry notes 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 chances parents have during the week to help their children develop a friendship with Jesus.
Family Ministry degree programs in Christian colleges and seminaries have increased. 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
Family Ministry strategies range from take-home papers to programs for all ages— 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 website in Austin, Texas. Parents can browse resources for them and their children that are available for purchase in the church bookstore.
“Family Ministry is a way to bring the all ages 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 division 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.”
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.
Holly Allen, Professor of Christian Ministries and Family Studies at Lipscomb University
Kidmin Trends#2: Wired Ministry
Wired Ministry is the use of 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 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. 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.
“I have a 7-year-old son who loves to go online and play games. 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.”
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.
Russ Hill, associate pastor of children at First Baptist Church in Rogers, Arkansas
Kidmin Trends #3: Safety First
Safety First happens when a church takes every step possible to ensure the protection of all children so parents have peace of mind about children’s safety.
Safety First churches start with background checks for volunteers. This is an emerging trend that must continue. There’s not a court of law in this country that would frown on a church that conducts background checks for every single volunteer who ministers to children.
The next key step every Safety First ministry takes today is a simple check-in/checkout procedure. Parents check kids into classrooms and kids leave until parents submit a “ticket”-much like a coat-check system. Much more advanced check-in/checkout procedures include software programs and even computer kiosks in central areas.
Go a Step Above
A step above this Safety First measure is secure facilities. Secure children’s ministry areas require a ministry-approved name tag or family ID number for people to even enter the children’s ministry wing. The goal of such a secure environment is to protect children from unauthorized people who may want to harm them.
The coming phase of Safety First that your church will soon encounter is the need for facility lockdown procedures and drills. Such practices are commonplace for school systems, and most schools actually evacuate students to the haven of nearby churches. Some Safety First churches, though, deliberate over the possibility of an armed intruder turning their haven into a war zone. These churches such as Grace Community Church in Gresham, Oregon, create their own lockdown procedures. Inherent in having a plan will be the need for lockdown drills so children, parents, and staff know how to follow the procedures.
“Simply stated, the dangers to children have increased recently. There are increased risks from medical concerns, custody battles, and unsolicited acts of violence. This is demonstrated regularly on the evening news and it has exposed how vulnerable churches and schools have become…Those of us in children’s ministry have been entrusted with the spiritual and physical safety of the students in our classes. A little prevention is a small price to pay compared to the consequences if something were to happen to a child. Many parents factor the security of their children as a top priority when they select a church.”
Parents live in a culture of fear for their children. Neighborhood play is a thing of the past and homes are children’s new playgrounds. Your church is not immune. Parents and society itself demand that you ensure children’s safety with screened volunteers and secure classes.
Nelson Dervaes, system developer for SonBlest Technologies, LLC
Kidmin Trends #4: Experience Required
Experience Required is an educational philosophy that involves kids in hands-on learning as they make faith discoveries. All of kids’ culture pulls them toward experiences; they crave engagement.
“Kids want experiences, not just things,” writes David Kiley, marketing editor for Business Week.
Experience Required products for children include simulation games where kids create environments or immerse themselves in another culture. “Experience marketing” gets children and families to return for services and to buy products.
Schools and creative theme parks integrate Experience Required. Farms for City Kids in Reading, Vermont, gives kids and teachers practical, hands-on experiences with farm chores. Churches are following suit.
“Children learn best by doing, using their senses, and exploring the world around them. It’s how God designed them. Given the choice (and a choice is key) to watch someone else do something or to do it themselves, today’s kids will opt for the latter. Experience is the new frontier and we must join kids on the adventure.”
Kids will remember 20% of what they hear, 50% of what they see, and 90% of what they do. To make learning memorable, immerse kids in hands-on learning.
Patty Smith, director of children and family ministries for the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church
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