Apr 4, 2012

10 Things That Will Be Obsolete in Children's Ministry in 2020

Fast forward with me to 2020.  How will Children's Ministry be different?  What are we currently using that will no longer exist?  Here are some predictions...

  1. Rows of chairs.  Rows of chairs are rooted in the industrial age, some two centuries ago.  As schools move toward 21st century, active, participatory learning, the church will follow.  Rows of chairs will be replaced with a fluid classroom set up that resembles an airport lounge.
  2. Hard copy books.  Bibles and class materials will shift to digital format as hard copy books continue to be replaced with digital reading.
  3. CD players.  As CD sales continue to fall, music will be played from small digital devices instead of CD players.  For many this already happening.  The few CD players that remain in classrooms will disappear.
  4. Phone books.  70% of adults "rarely or never" use a phone book.  Instead of thumbing through a giant phone book for the name of an inflatable company, Children's Ministries will simply use the internet.  I suspect that for most this is already happening.
  5. Keyboard and mouse.  Industry leaders including Microsoft and Apple believe touch will play a pivotal role in the way we interact with tomorrow's computing devices -- and it already does. Touchscreens exist in seemingly every electronics segment, including cell phones, notebooks, and even printers.  
  6. Internet usage charges.  Companies who are trying to be the gatekeepers of the internet and charge for usage, will be swept aside by free community internet.  
  7. DVD players.  By 2015, 91% of internet data will be video.  DVD players will be replaced by streaming or archived movies in Children's Ministries.
  8. Desktop computers.  Laptops and mobile devices will continue to replace desktops.  
  9. Paper.  This is closely tied to #2.  In the next 10 years, schools will reduce their paper consumption by 90%.  Expect Children's Ministries to follow this pattern as well.
  10. Lecture style learning.  This is closely related to #1.  Only two institutions still regularly offer lectures as a primary means of learning: universities and churches. And if a recent article in the Washington Post is accurate, the church may soon be the last institution on Earth that trains people primarily by verbal lecture.  According to the article, universities are “abandoning or retooling the lecture as a style of teaching, worried that it’s driving students away.”  Watch for Children's Ministries to eventually move away from a talking head model to a learn based model.  
Do you agree with these?  Why or why not?
What other things do you think will change in the next 8-10 years?
What needs to change if Children's Ministry is going to stay relevant?

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.


Could you link to resources or better unpack #10?
I'm not aware of many children's programs that are straight up lectures, so maybe I'm not fully understanding what that means.
As for the others, I totally agree.
#2 I believe to be accurate... I have 2 children who use their iPod's with the Lifechurch.tv app. Despite being true, it does sadden me. Seeing someone carrying around their worn-out, highlighted, dog-eared bible conveys a story of their walk. Digital bibles don't provide the same character. When I have done funerals, I often ask to look at the persons bible to see

Great post! I love your insights. I completely agree with eliminating rows. In our preteen ministry we keep everything very open and fluid. In small classes everyone sits in a circular format.

I have to say that lecture-based teaching can be extremely effective when used appropriately. Of course that is the catch, how to effectively utilize a lecture! The combination between lecture and discussion I feel is the most effective for our preteens. It allows the teacher to be a gentle moderator and facilitate discussion toward an intentional goal, while creating the opportunity for preteens to step up and lead discussion by engaging one another in topics. The ability to remain relevant is created in this teaching style, because the students will talk about what is relevant! As the moderator it becomes your challenge to attach everything to scripture and pose challenging scenarios in their anecdotes to inspire a passion for Biblical knowledge.

Thanks again for your thought-provoking post!

Excellent post. Yes I agree with these, although I do worry about the impact of #10 on the greater church at large and what that means for preaching. I also think it's great that we are thinking in these terms, and now the challenge is how do we cultivate these changes in our ministries to stay relevant, or even get to a point where the church is leading the way in new trends? Any thoughts on those?

I agree with most of your post, except for #2. While I do see a few e-readers among the congregation, I think print books will be around for a long time still. A book won't run out of power, it's usually easy to read in any lighting condition, it is 100% portable, and, as Brian pointed out, a book (especailly a Bible!) leaves a heritage.

#5 made me laugh because our self-check in still utilizes keyboard and mouse and i've seen numerous parents recently reach out and touch the screen. DVDs are almost completely obsolete in our children's ministry with the exception of occasional use in a small group setting with no computer. I am curious how #10 plays out in the church.

Agree with all except for #2. Other past articles have predicted that books would disappear yet print books still are powerful and pushed. I think it will take a greater time for them to be irrelevant. Though we here haven't seen a move to use e-books, I personally have 3 e-bibles, 2 ipods, an ipad and I am connected to most of the major social networks, but there is something deep within many to hold an actual book. Tactile sense is a strong motivator to keep some things around.

I have to agree with the commenters about books...I don't see the going away that quickly...I also have read many stories of the end of paper, but if anything, I think the digital office might even use more. I think paper will be around for a bit as well unit people become more cloud centered....so#6 may push some of the others.

Brian, thanks for taking time to respond. #10 refers to a teacher standing in front of a classroom and simply downloading info. the whole class time instead of making it interactive, discussions, etc.

Thanks Tim, I think it's not a matter of "if" but "when." You are right. It could be longer than 2020...who knows. With the speed of how things are moving...it may be 2020. It was interesting this past week. I walked in a Barnes and Nobles (last big book chain left) and the center of the store was based on their "Nook" display. It dominated the store.

Jesse, thanks for sharing. While e-book reading is markedly growing, printed books still dominate the world of book readers. For how long? Who knows.

The rise of e-books in American culture is part of a larger story about a shift from printed to digital material.

Brian, thanks for sharing. Many children's ministries still use a lecture-based "lesson" for their teaching.

I agree. The shift from printed to digital Bibles is hard. I do love seeing worn out Bibles. There are always gives and takes when technology forces us to change.

I suppose that in the USA where children's groups are often large it is harder to get away from a lecture style than it is here in UK where groups are often small.

I am increasingly developing games and other interactive methods as a way of teaching doctrine. I plan to start publishing some of these shortly. On-line of course!

Hi Brenda, would love to hear more about your ministry in the UK. When you start publishing the resources let me know. I'd like to take a look at them. God bless.

Sam, thanks for sharing your insight. I love hard copy books and still believe they are very relevant. But I do believe the shift is inevitable. If you look at hard copy book sales they continue to decline while e-book sales continue to rise.

Thanks for the post. The importance of our calling begs us to use whatever it takes to capture and sustain children's attention enough to impress God's truth upon their hearts. Technology offers rich and engaging experiences this generation is attracted to. Cloud-hosted resources allow church, home and child to connect in ways that just weren't possible as they are now. We, at Impress Kids are harnessing technology to transform the way kids and kids' ministries memorize God's Word. I invite you to check it out at www.ImpressKids.com

Thanks again for the very relevant post.

I feel a lot more needs to change!!! Who is bothered about paper and computers? need to be thinking about what we teach and how we make it relevant to the kids families!!!! Please think more about that!!!

John, I am very excited about what you are doing with ImpressKids. It speaks the language of today's kids.

Bless you for your passion to teach the truth to children. We need more of that! Computers, paper, screens, etc. are simply tools that are used to convey that truth. The most important thing is the truth, but it is also important to present it in a relevant format that people understand and connect with.

I agree with this list in its entirety. It's so important to consider what the future holds for our children and their education.

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