Two weeks ago, LCMS Youth Ministry hosted its Symposium focused on confirming the faith of young people and how to make the most of the limited number of hours most church’s have to help students prepare for the rite of Confirmation. More importantly, it was clear that while Confirmation is a onetime rite, the goal should be lifelong catechesis. One small part of that conversation was the use of technology to help young students and their family move what they learn in Confirmation ministry into their everyday lives. Technology provides churches with a vast array of resources that are woefully underutilized. When used with deliberate care, it can extend limited instruction time into the home and directly to the hands of students and families.
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples went everywhere, preaching the gospel in any public forum that became available. Technology has moved many of those public gathering places from physical to digital spaces, but that doesn’t change God’s call to share the love of Christ to the ends of the earth. Consider that the students preparing now for Confirmation have never known a world without Wikipedia.¹ Amazon sells more e-books than printed books, and classrooms are moving that direction as well. Our Gospel proclamation and discipleship process should embrace technology as a tool for helping students and their families grow in faith. Of course for some places and students, certain technologies won’t make sense. But more often than not, the right piece of technology can bring a whole world of difference to your ministry.
It is not about what technology you use, but about finding the right medium and using it well. There are hosts of ways to use technology from texting to video to Twitter. Each congregation must discover what connects best with your ministry and put in the time to use it well. Here’s why.
- Technology empowers parents to better engage in faith growth with their children.
Technology allows teachers to convey up to date information to parents and students throughout the week. 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of being delivered², which means parents could have a text on what was taught in class moments after picking a student up, empower them to engage their students in faith-filled conversation right away. Digital content like websites or videos can be sent directly to parent’s inboxes, giving them a chance to engage the content directly with their student. Some churches even flip the classroom by sending links to pre-taped video instruction and quizzes ahead of class. This allows parents to learn along with their children in a low stress environment and allows you to optimize your classroom time with your students.
- Technology engages students using a familiar medium.
74% of teens have accessed the internet through a mobile device, and research shows that using a smart phone engages your brain in similar ways to playing string instrument.³ Use technology is an instrument to let your kids shine. Ask them to synopsize a sermon into a tweet, and then send it out for others to see. Let them Instagram photos of church art and share what that imagery teaches us about God. Students will be excited to engage with Bible and Catechism material in a way they know and relate to. Additionally, technology allows for differentiation in the lesson for students who might otherwise struggle in a traditional classroom.
- Technology connects faith to the everyday world.
Technology opens the door for faith growth opportunities to reach congregational and community members outside of the classroom. God’s Word when sent out, even over the internet, does not return void. Additionally, it also allows for students to re-engage in lessons long after they are over. Bible and devotional apps on phones help keep God’s Word at student’s fingertips. Videos can be watched again, and lessons can contribute to lifelong discipleship
Technology can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. It does take time and energy to utilize technology effectively, but it is worth all the effort. Work together with other churches and speak with parents to discover what will work best for your ministry. It will be time well spent. Our world is only going to become more technologically advanced, and our students are waiting for us. Let technology expand the teaching of God’s Word beyond the classroom.