On my way to church on a recent Wednesday evening, I found out that I needed to help in preschool choir. The lead teacher’s family had the flu, so her co-teacher would be taking the lead and she needed an assistant. Miss LeeAnn, a college student, quickly pulled together some music videos and a Bible story app on her smartphone, which she subsequently connected to the TV in the preschool classroom. And away we went!
Miss LeeAnn leveraged technology in order to effectively teach biblical truth that Wednesday night. Today’s preschoolers and elementary kids are what Marc Prensky calls digital natives. They have never known a world without smartphones and electronic tablets. So, instead of lamenting that fact, let’s use technology in positive ways at church.
- Embrace technology for what it is, technology; and don’t condemn kids for using it.
- Teach kids the theology of technology. Remind them that their identity is in Christ, not dependent on how many “likes” and “shares” they receive.
- Help kids apply what Jesus referred to as the greatest commands—love God and love others—to their use of technology, rather than succumb to negative digital distractions.
- Establish ground rules for mobile devices at church for both teachers and kids.
- Incorporate the usage of family apps in class.
- Use TV screens.
- Present biblical truth and life application in terms of sound bites, quotes, memes, short videos, engaging images, share squares, and emojis.
- Build in time for interruptions. When kids have questions, try to respond immediately. If a child makes a relevant statement, allow for open discussion on the spot if appropriate.
- Use large group experiences to teach patience. The world of smartphones has created expectations of immediate gratification. When a child has to wait for a teacher or her peers before speaking or taking action, she will learn patience; and patience is biblical. (See Galatians 5:22.)
Speaking to a previous generation, G. K. Chesterton stated, “The huge modern heresy is to alter the human soul to fit modern social conditions, instead of altering modern social conditions to fit the human soul.” Our job is not to change the gospel message to fit technology, but rather to leverage technology to teach kids the unchanging truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of LifeWay Kids Ministry Publishing, Nashville, TN. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before coming to LifeWay. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the grandparents of two adorable grandbabies.