Using Technology in Children’s Ministry
I remember 20 years ago using cutting edge technology in children’s ministry. Our church had splurged and bought an expensive “Kid’s Church” curriculum. It came with full color transparencies for an overhead projector to go with a story each week, and it was amazing! And we used video clips too! I would cue up the VHS tape, with the remote in hand, ready to start and stop the clip at just the right moment.
Shortly thereafter, the company began using PowerPoints, DVDs were being released, and our children’s ministry began to fall behind. That quickly, technology was passing us by.
Technology is ever-changing, but that doesn’t mean you have to chase every new device and fad. You do, however, want to make sure you are communicating in a way that is engaging and relevant to the families you are ministering to each week. In time, we did adjust and a couple of years later I was using PowerPoint on a weekly basis.
Today there are many presentation options, as well as other areas where you can use updated technology—in the Office, the Home, and the Church.
Whether the Office is a physical office, the dining room table, or corner of your bedroom it is the place ministry begins. This is where you pray, plan, and prepare. As you plan, begin by typing your outlines for your services each week. Use whatever word processing/note taking app you are familiar with to create outlines that keep your services flowing and on track. By doing this digitally you can then file them away for quick access later. I have a digital folder filed with outlines from every year I’ve taught since 2006. This gives me the ability to look back and see what songs we’ve sung, verses we memorized or focused on, Bible passages we taught, and so much more, just by scanning through these old outlines. This little start can also help you begin to create a scope and sequence for your ministry. If you have the records to look back at where you’ve been, you have a better idea of the steps you need to take to lead the children where you want them to go.
Using cloud storage apps like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft One Drive to store your files allows you the option to have your files with you at all times. They offer syncing between computers, portables devices, and phones so that wherever and however you work, you have access. Many times I’ve pulled up my outline on my phone to help while shopping for supplies, a last minute refresher, or even an extra copy during class.
While technology helps with the lesson, there is so much more available such as communicating with your team. Even if you team is just an assistant and yourself, you need to communicate. As your team grows you will need more than just a group text to connect with everyone. Apps like Slack, GroupMe, and WhatsApp can help fill the void. If you want to take it to the next level, you can use a church management software that will help you keep up with families and volunteers. Check with your pastor or administrator to see if your church already has one in place. If they do not, consider “People” from Planning Center for a free option, or Elvanto for a low-cost solution that has registration software included (Planning Center also has a free option for up to 15 check-ins a day).
We do so much more than teach. We are investing in lives and a big part of that happens outside the church. Fortunately, we have tools today that help us build a bridge between church and home. While nothing takes the place of face-to-face connections and relationships, it isn’t feasible for us to be in every family’s home each week. That’s where Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social networking sites come in.
You will need to find out what most people in your community and congregation are currently using. Then create a plan for what content you want to send out through these avenues. Share more than just announcements and commercials. Use this as a space to let them see who you are as a church. You can highlight leaders serving in children’s ministry and share stories of transformation, with applicable permission of course. You can even create posts as an alternative to the take-home paper.
You probably already know what social media sites to use, but you may need help creating graphics. You don’t have to be a graphic designer or buy some fancy program anymore. Apps like Canva, DesignBold, Crello, and Snappa make it easy. They have templates based on what you are creating and will allow you to share straight from the app.
Don’t forget about yourself when connecting outside the church. You need to connect with others that can encourage and strengthen you. That’s why I love Facebook groups like “CGPKids Connect,” “CGPKids,” and “I Love Kidmin.” It helps knowing you’re not alone in this.
There are many opportunities in addition to presentations to implement technology in the church. You can create announcements using Google slides from your preferred device (computer, tablet, or phone) and stream them to a Smart TV or use a USB drive if WiFi isn’t available. As mentioned, electronic check-in not only makes record keeping easily accessible, it also can provide comfort to new guests by showing a level of security. Adding security cameras is easier than ever before with wireless options that can even be viewed from a mobile device.
While those areas have great potential, most of us think of presentations as the way to use technology in the classroom. PowerPoint is still viable for so many, with Open Office, Google Slides, Prezi, and Keynote (for Mac users) being alternatives. Most curriculum provide some sort of PowerPoint presentation so that is a great starting point.
To take it to the next level, look at more robust software that offers more control. Most churches are already using something like Easy Worship or ProPresenter in their main sanctuary. It is worth checking to see if you are able to use this in your children’s ministry area too. Proclaim is a presentation software that works cross-platform (PC and Mac compatible) and is cloud based. Media Shout is also worth exploring for churches. These programs require a little more training but provide a smooth flow from countdowns to worship to the message to altar ministry time. I
Remember, technology is meant to simplify and improve your ability to minister. There may be a learning period, but in the end, it should assist you in being a more effective minister.