I love learning about learning. Early in my program at Bethel (a seminary INCM has the privilege of partnering with to provide a truly academic certificate children’s ministry program), I learned something about my role as a Kidmin.
I am a Christian educator.
Regardless of your role in the children’s ministry, you are a Christian educator. As such, you are involved in the teaching and learning process with the children and families you serve. So the more we learn about learning, the better we can serve kids and families.
It’s no secret, today’s kids are digital. They use technology. Children seamlessly navigate the digital world far more easily than the physical one. Computers, tablets, smartphones are their tools. Texting, gaming, and coding their language. And those tools and utilities find their way into the church every week, whether you planned it (like churches deploying Minecraft) or children are simply bringing their own devices (a trend predicted by the 2015 Horizon Report for K-12).
So what’s the secret to this rising generation of digital learners?
They are just like you.
When generational differences are more likely to garner attention, consider the similarities.
You are likely reading this on your phone or tablet.
You spend a considerable amount of time every day looking at a screen.
You do not allow your phone outside of your arm’s reach.
You learn digitally. You take in entertainment digitally. You live in a digitally saturated world.
Just like today’s kids, you are connected to the digital world and digital tools. The joining of person to device has been one of the most profound cultural shifts since the invention of the automobile. After the advent of the automobile, over time, owning a car and getting place to place in a car became commonplace. The car expanded the limits of a family’s experiences and life. But unlike the automobile, a phone is becoming commonplace for children. And yet, how often do you expect kids to be non-digital? How often does your church or discipleship expect a different norm from kids? So many times Kidmin leaders expect children to leave their devices behind when it is difficult for the adult leader not to check their own phone for email or texts 85 times a day. To a child, bringing a phone to church is no different than driving a car to get to church. It’s normal.
So now that we know the secret? What happens next? How can we reach today’s digital learner? I’ll be blogging about that next week. Stay tuned.