10 Things in Children's Ministry That Should Be Obsolete

Whens something becomes obsolete, it happens gradually.  Over time it's used less and less, until one day it disappears completely.  Here are a few examples of things that are nearly or totally obsolete.

Telephone Books
Dial-up Internet
Movie Rental Stores
Hard Copy Maps
Landlines in Homes
Phone Booths

What about in Children's Ministry?  Here are 10 things that some ministries are still using that are either becoming obsolete or are already obsolete. 

Many schools have already realized that lecture-style teaching is the product of a bygone industrial age and have shifted to hands-on, interactive, student-led learning.  100 years ago, when people worked in factories, conformity was needed hence rows of chairs and one primary teaching method...lecturing. 

After 7 years of teaching at Harvard, Professor Eric Mazur, discovered that his polished, successful lectures, were an illusion, a house of cards.  His students could recite back rote answers but didn't have a true, practical, working understanding of what he was teaching.  So he decided to try something different.  Instead of lecturing, he decided to have the students discuss the information among themselves and find solutions on their own.  Immediately, the room was abuzz with 150 students engaged in conversation.  Within 3 minutes, they had figured out the answer.  This led to a significant shift in his teaching style.  Peer-to-peer, interactive learning has now spread across the country and has taken root in schools nationally.

Yet across the country, you can walk into many children's ministries and still see kids sitting and listening to a teacher drone on and on.  And then they wonder why the kids can't remember what they "taught" them.  When the church makes the shift and helps kids discover the truths of God's Word through updated, interactive, hands-on learning, we will begin seeing kids retain truth long-term.

Believe it or not, there are still churches using flannelgraph.  The kids in these churches leave their iPads in their car and walk into the wonderful world of little figures that stick on a board and tell a Bible story.  Obviously someone keeps perpetuating this by producing these.  Either that or they are made from very durable materials that last for 50 years.

There are still some Bibleman, Veggie Tales, McGhee & Me, 321 Penguins and Nest Animated Stories of the Bible video tapes floating around that get popped into a VCR.  Kids who have been watching HD all week are taken back to a day when rewinding was a necessity.  This will probably continue until the last VCR breaks.

There are still CD's being played in CD players in some children's ministries.  They are gradually disappearing and will soon go the way of cassette tapes.  In an age of mp3's, streaming music and digital playlists, CD's are no longer necessary.

Many ministries have already gone completely paperless.  New family registration is done on a tablet or laptop.  Event and class registration is done online.  As technology becomes more and more available and affordable, many more churches will follow and eventually pen and paper will disappear.

There are still TV's out there with backs that weigh 1,000 pounds.  Kids who are growing up with flat screens that are 1" thick look at these and ask, "What's that on the back of the TV?"  Eventually all of these TVs will stop working and be a thing of the past.

Wires will continue to disappear as everything becomes wireless. 

Digital continues to make print obsolete.  This includes hard copy student booklets.  Downloadable curriculum is the delivery of choice for more and more churches.  Churches that are still using hard copy booklets will eventually have to make the switch as print booklets disappear.

"Sunday School" began in Britain in the 1780's.  This was before child labor laws and many children worked in factories all week including Saturdays.  Christian leaders wanted to provide these children with a way to learn to read and write while learning about God, so they started "Sunday School."

The name has stuck around for all these years even though the life situation of children has obviously changed for the better.  Now kids are in "school" all week.  The last place they want to go on Sunday is back to "school."  This has caused many churches to steer away from this outdated term and use more contemporary terms like children's services, children's programming, small groups, children's Bible study and other creative names.  The churches that are still hanging onto the term "school" would be wise to make the shift as well.

This one may come as a surprise.  15 years ago, it was a big draw to have video games available at church.  But in the last few years, things have changed.  Kids have access to video games 24/7 through consoles, tablets and phones.  When they come to church they enjoy playing board games and doing hands-on activities and crafts. 

Final thoughts...

Normally the church lags behind on cultural shifts and technological advances.  This is due to a number of factors including...

  • being disconnected from the culture and not aware of the changes that are happening
  • aware but unwilling to change
  • lack of finances needed to make changes in areas such as technology
If children's ministries are going to remain effective, they must be willing to change and adapt.  If they do not, they will become as obsolete as the outdated things they are hanging onto.

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Are you still using any of the above?  What else is becoming obsolete?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.