The Secret to Digital Learners: A New Goal

The Secret to Digital Learners: A New Goal

Last week I blogged about The Secret to Digital Learners. The response to looking at digital natives, those tech-savvy kids in our midst was really positive. If you have not had the chance to read the blog, I encourage you to do so.

I want to follow up with the first of four ways I recommend to engage with digital learners: establish a new goal in the life of your children’s ministry.

We have engineered the teaching and learning experience within the walls of the church to mirror school classrooms of yesteryear. Advances in church architecture notwithstanding, our tools and resources are often based on the premise that children will sit quietly and listen to an adult teacher. These resources are routinely patterned to bring children to the place where they know and are able to repeat something about the Bible, or in some cases, or moral truth. Friends, we must establish a new goal that goes beyond merely learning and repeating facts about the Bible or simple truth phrases. Does our learning move beyond knowledge and truth and reach into the soul, the spirit of a child?

My friend (and former INCM Board President) Sam Luce recently challenged me in conversation, “Matt, children’s and family ministry leaders will always reach for truth, for knowledge. We will stuff our heads and the heads of kids with knowledge and facts. It is easy to measure, easy to replicate, easy to teach. But discipleship is more than knowledge. It is more than a repeated phrase. It is more than just becoming a more moral person. We need spirit and truth. We need our souls to be transformed, we need the spirit to do that work. ”

Yes, we must learn, but we must be deeply known by God and deeply relate to Jesus. Yes, we must establish relationships with one another, but that’s more than orienting a ministry around small groups or a small group leader, but inter-generational relationships, community relationships, diverse relationships, relationships with the orphan, the widow, the other.

No significant transformation can happen without significant relationship. And yes, kids and students must be grounded in God’s Word, but to the place where their heart is shaped, molded, chiseled to the places God has called out in the story, alongside with their memory being intact. Here, we must open our eyes and our minds to new horizons, new vistas where we move from school as the model to apprenticeship as the model. Away from listen to me talk toward, “What would you like to see next?”

The story God is telling has momentum, it was not told in weekly segments or series. It was lived, it called men and women and children out into the waves of this life. The learning that happened in the discipleship process was figure-it-out, on the job, courageous, brave, student directed, Jesus dependent life. And we must hold in tension, speaking the language of the digital learner and helping, shepherding them to find respite from our always on, always connected world that is the enemy of any Sabbath rhythm. You and I both know, one of the things most on-demand in our on-demand world, is ourselves. And so stillness is a goal-worthy discipline in an age of constant movement.

I urge you, think through what the fundamental goal is of the learning environment you have established for the children and families in your church and examine this goal against the discipleship outcomes – those grand visions and dreams of a generation rooted in Christ – your church has in mind. Where does your goal lead?

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