Children’s Ministry: From Flannel Graphs to MacBooks

Clearly the times are changing in Children’s Ministry. The kids we have in our ministries are Digital Natives; having grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3s for their entire life.

Rather than steering clear of technology, we need to use it to our advantage. Children are much more technologically savvy and our ministries to these children should be as well (just ask kids to open their Bibles and watch how many pull out their iPod touch and open their Bible app to get my point). If we do not change with the times, we will not be able to relate to today’s kids. Does this mean that we need to replace our flannel graphs with video screens? Yes…and no.

My suggestion is to adopt a high tech/high touch approach to Children’s Ministry.

High Tech

Technology is a way of life for children today. They don’t just appreciate the use of technology in our ministries…they expect it.

We incorporate a lot of technology into our Sunday morning programming. Our large group worship rooms for preschoolers and children are equipped with state-of-the-art lighting, sound and video equipment. Technology helps us add variety to our Children’s Ministry and the use of multimedia helps us engage our kids and get our message across to them in a relevant way.

For example, recently we taught our kids the story of Jesus calming the storm. Instead of simply telling the story, we created a “storm” in our preschool large group. We used our light board to emulate lightening and sound effects to create thunder. We also used video of a thunderstorm to create a visual effect. When Jesus calmed the storm, our video and sound effects changed as well.

To remain relevant, our churches have to embrace technology and not resist it.

High Touch

The truth of the matter is that the majority of our Children’s Ministry programming is not build around technology. It is built around a small group of kids interacting with volunteers. Most of our programming is life on lie…its personal and relational. We want children to build relationships and connect with each other and their adult leaders.

Believe it or not, we actually still have flannel graphs in our preschool ministry. However, when we use them it is done in a small group setting. We don’t use flannel storyboards to teach the lesson but we do allow preschoolers the opportunity to interact with each other and manipulate the storyboards in small group.

Technology cannot take the place of real volunteers interacting with real children. Technology is not a substitute for hands-on experiences with kids. Dramatic play, crafts, small group time, and games are as essential to a relevant children’s ministry as multimedia, intelligent lights, and Bible apps.

While a high tech worship environment is great to engage kids and enhance your lesson, it is not a replacement for high touch opportunities for kids to make connections and build relationships in your ministry. I believe BOTH are necessary in initiating creativity, encouraging participation, and engaging our kids.


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5 responses to “Children’s Ministry: From Flannel Graphs to MacBooks”

  1. Andy Darnell Avatar
    Andy Darnell

    Great post, Eric. Reminds me of “From the Garden to the City” by John Dyer. You should read it. You’d like it. Also Flickering Pixels by Shane Hipps.

    1. eric echols Avatar
      eric echols

      I’ll definitely check out “From the Garden to the City”.

  2. Merri Dennis (@MerriDennis) Avatar
    Merri Dennis (@MerriDennis)

    Eric – Thanks for a positive post that teaching resource choices do not have to be ‘either/or’ but can be ‘both/and’ utilizing old and new methods to engage our kids.

    1. eric echols Avatar
      eric echols

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  3. Steve Cook Avatar
    Steve Cook

    Thanks Eric. As a relative newby to Children’s Ministry (2009) I am fascinated to learn as much as possible about how folks facilitate the work of the Holy Spirit in kids’ lives. Personally, I use live dramatization and Bible mnemonics (mostly in the form of acrostics and songs) in my ministry. However i find that kids enjoy the challenge of memorization no matter what the format, making it pretty much “technology-proof”. I think memorization is so important as we seek to know God better, so we can love and share Him better. And I am a HUGE believer that the more I can model long-passage memorization of Scripture myself thru live dramatization, the more seriously the kids are about doing it and the more excited they get about doing it! I see it in their faces and hear it in their comments! “Are you gonna do the sound effects today!?!!!” lol Having said that, I am also working on a daily 1-minute ‘Word To Life’ app which is geared toward helping parents teach the Word to their kids THEMSELVES (Deut 4:9-10, Psalm 78:2-7) even in the daily fast lane of life. So many possibilities. I really look forward to exploring them! Peace.

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