Where Is Children's Ministry Headed in the Next 10 Years?

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Dale Hudson looks at current research to think through the future of kidmin.

David Houle is a futurist and author of the “The Shift Age.”  In a recent CNN interview, he talked about the future of education Take note of what he says.  The implications will not only affect how kids learn at school, but at church as well.

“In the next decade, there will be more transformation at all levels of education than in any 10-, 20-, or perhaps 50-year period in history.  Generational forces at play will accelerate these changes.

The aging baby boomers – who I call the “bridge generation,” as they have bridged education from the middle of the 20th century to now – are retiring in ever increasing numbers.  They have held on to the legacy thinking about education, remembering how they were taught.  Their retirement opens up the discussion about transformation.

At the same time, we have the rising digital natives as the students of tomorrow.  This generation, born since 1997, is the first that was likely to grow up with a computer in the house, high-speed Internet, parents with cell phones and often a touch screen app phone as their first phone.

They are the first generation of the 21th century with no memory of the 20th.  They are the first generation born into the information-overloaded world; for them, that’s simply the way it is.  The digital natives are different than prior generations and need new models for education.

Let’s take a quick look for all levels of education to see what some major transformations will be:

Preschool
A child born in 2009 is one of the younger digital natives.  In upper-middle class households, they are the first children for whom all content can be found on screens.  They are using touch screen and other interactive computing devices starting as early as 2, and therefore walk into the first day of preschool or nursery school with a level of digital skills.

This will spark greater use of digital devices and interactive learning at this first level of education.  Classrooms will increasingly have interactive touch screen devices.

K-12 education
The elevation and integration of digital interactivity is soaring in K-12 education.  School districts are setting up cloud computing to provide always-available information for always-connected education communities.

Schools that used to make students turn off cellular devices during the school day are allowing them to remain on and become an integral part of the classroom education.  If all of the world’s knowledge and information are just a few keystrokes away, why make the classroom the only unconnected place students experience?

Self-directed learning – the interaction of the student with learning courses on a computer – will accelerate education and provide more students with the opportunity to learn at a challenging pace.

Connectivity will bring the world ever more into the classroom and will allow for the grammar school and the high school to be more involved in the local community and the larger global community.

The year 2013 will bring about the first steps in a transformation that, by 2020, will leave education at all levels profoundly different from it is today.”

Here are my thoughts…

The church normally lags behind changes in education.  It’s time we flip that and get on the edge of these transformations.

Are we trying to use the 20th century, lecture-style model of learning to communicate to a new generation of kids and then wondering why they are not engaging with us?  “Ssshhhhh….sit still and listen to me download information” has to change to sounds of kids talking, sharing, and discovering together with a trusted guide.

How can we leverage technology to teach God’s Word to kids who are digital natives?

It’s time we shift from inactive environments to interactive environments. 

What thoughts or ideas do you have?
How do you think churches can make the shift to this new model?
What are some things you are doing to effectively connect with today’s kids?  

Dale Hudson Dale Hudson has served in children and family ministry for over 24 years. He is the Director of Children’s Ministries at Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach, Florida. He was recently named one of the Top 20 Influencers in Children’s Ministry. He is the co-author of four ministry books, including Turbocharged: 100 Simple Secrets to Successful Children’s Ministry.

More from Dale Hudson or visit Dale at http://www.relevantchildrensministry.com

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