The Importance of Using Images in Your Children's Ministry

Images capture kids' attention.  Show a child an image and they will point to it, say something about it, and respond with a variety of emotions.

Dr. Leonard Sweet says, "Images are the language of the 21st century...not words."

Major corporations know this.  They spend billions of dollars each year to find the right imagery to sell a product, service, or idea.  The United States Military spent $598 million on advertising to increase "brand identity" and meet their annual recruitment goals.  Nike spent $269 million on its image to sell their products.  Pepsi budgeted over $1 billion on its image.  Not to be out done, Coca-Cola budgeted $1.4 billion for its image.

Kids think using pictures.  John Berger writes in his book Ways of Seeing, "Seeing comes before words.  The child looks and recognizes before it can speak." 

Visual images help kids understand lessons.  Robert E. Horn, an award-winning scholar at Stanford University's Center for the Study of Language and Information, said, "When words and visual elements are closely entwined, we create something new and we augment our communal intelligence ... visual language has the potential for increasing ‘human bandwidth'—the capacity to take in, comprehend, and more efficiently synthesize large amounts of new information." 

Visual images help kids remember lessons.  Dr. Lynell Burmark said, "...unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear.  Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about 7 bits of information (plus or minus 2).  This is why, by the way, that we have 7-digit phone numbers.  Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched."  Pictures get caught in our brains.

Visual images help kids apply the lesson.  A study at the University of Minnesota's School of Management found that presenters who use visual aids are 43% more effective in persuading audience members to take a desired course of action than presenters who don't use visuals.  Give kids a point for their head and an image for their heart.

Tips for using visual images in your Children's Ministry...
  • Use images on screen.
  • Use printed images or signs.
  • Balance words and images well.  
  • Use simple icons to represent key points / truths.
  • Give kids pictures related to a truth and ask them to discuss what they are seeing.