Many churches are integrating their sermons and teaching with their website. Others have gone so far as to integrate worship, and hold actual services online. With tools like live chat, they are calling people to participate and be part of the church; just online. Yet this is often geared toward your adult age demographic. In this article I will explore ways to both entertain and educate your church’s youth.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," -Matthew 28:19 (NIV)
Remember Youth Ministries
This charge from Jesus did not exclude your youth. Yet so much of our online content is geared toward adult audiences. We assume that only adults will access our websites. At the time of this article, the two biggest Christmas gift requests for children were the iPod Touch and iPad. These are Internet-ready devices! By adding content distribution channels for your youth, they can use these devices and follow along without missing a beat; even if they cannot attend church that week. Below are a few channels your church can explore:
As I mentioned in a previous article on Sunday School, there is often printed material that can accompany your lessons for parents to assist in daily instruction. If your audience is old enough to read, why not provide them with material they can consume on their own? Many eReaders and iPads can view PDF documents for offline viewing.
If you host Sunday School, you most likely have lessons that are taught by a teacher. Depending on the format, you probably can probably record one or several of these lessons. Choose an audio format has the largest possible dissemination. Many devices support MP3 playback. And nearly all of today’s youth have a digital music player or computer to listen. However with younger audiences, this may not be as effective. I would still encourage you to record them, including all of the interruptions and occasional crowd noise. You want to keep the realism of those distractions. It is what your audience is used to in their typical setting.
From iPhones to digital cameras, there are a multitude of devices that can record decent quality digital video. Why limit yourself to posting your adult sermons. Take cues from children’s television shows and make your videos entertaining, educational, and most importantly, interactive. Because there are often concerns about filming children without the parents, focus the camera just over their heads. You will get some hands, bobbing heads, and the occasional child standing up; but this is good. It should help add to the realism of the video. Much like how many music concert videos include regular camera shots at crowd level. If give you the feel of being there; which should help those young minds feel like more of the experience.
From personal experience, my own daughters (currently ages 7 & 9) are not as enthralled with audiobooks as I am, despite saying they enjoy the content. Even in a car ride with limited distractions, they cannot focus for long periods of time on just an audio narration of a story. So push this format for your tween demographic and use something more visually stimulating for your younger ages. Additionally, you should not consider providing written content for any but your oldest youth ministry groups. Plus, at the age of 13, they can legally have Email addresses; perfect for a weekly or daily reminder they can subscribe to!
Explore some or all of the ways I mentioned above to create a fun and educational online experience for the youth in your congregation. Find ways for them to safely explore these in offline or contained experience as many parents do not want their child freely surfing the Internet. The best solutions are podcasts, vodcasts, and native applications for Android and iOS devices. As Mark Driscoll once said in a sermon, "If you don’t have babies crying during the service, in a few years you won’t have adults singing during worship".