May 11, 2016

10 Critical Things You Need to Know About Today's Kids

If you want to reach today's kids, it's important to know their world.  Children haven't changed, but childhood has changed.  Things are different than when you and I were kids.  Old techniques won't do for a new generation.

Here's 10 critical things you need to know about today's kids who currently make up over 25% of the population in the U.S.

They influence the economy.  Their average weekly allowance is $16.90, which amounts to about $44 billion a year.  And for those too young to make purchases themselves, they heavily influence their parents' buying decisions.  

Children's ministry implication:  Parents will decide what church to attend based on their children's preferences.  The way to reach families is through their children.  The way to grow a church is through a dynamic children's ministry.  If you want to influence a community, influence the children of that community.  

They use 5 screens: smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop and iPod.  Today's kids are pure-play digital natives.  They are increasingly tech-savvy and get their information from multiple sources.

Children's ministry implication:  If you want to connect with today's kids, then the screen is the medium.  Use screens to deliver your content to them.

They are resourceful and entrepreneurial.  Growing up in an economic recession has shaped their buying habits.  They have seen family members and friends unemployed and money has been tight. This has made them realize they'll have to work for their success.  Nearly 75% say they want to start their own business someday.

Children's ministry implication:  Today's kids are ready to lead and pioneer new frontiers.  Channel that spirit into the greatest work...kingdom work.  Show them the greatest cause you can give your life to is the Gospel...and then release them to use their gifts and talents for the furtherance of the Gospel.

They gravitate toward organizations that are transparent.   An organization's values matter more to them than price of product.

Children's ministry implication:  Be very clear about what your core values are and how they drive decision making.  Be honest, genuine and transparent.

They look for experiences first.  Organizations that grab their attention are the ones that offer not just a product, but an experience. 

Children's ministry implication:  Kids want to experience God.  Truth without experience simply becomes the letter of the law.  Experience fueled by the Holy Spirit touches the heart and draws the mind toward knowledge and understanding.
  
They choose visuals over text.  Pictures is their native tongue.  They quickly become bored if asked to navigate through long passages of text.  They want their instructions in images rather than words.  

Children's ministry implication:  Communicate with pictures.  Use lots of pictures in your lessons.  Show it more than you say it.  Today's kids want to see it rather than hear it. 

They like video games.  They play lots of video games.  Like previous generations they like video game systems at home, but more than any previous generation, they play most of their games on mobile devices through apps. 

Children's ministry implication:  For the most part, no one has succeeded in creating "Christian" video games or apps that kids like to play.  The ones that have been created are usually "cheesy" and short-lived.  Christian developers simply can't provide the quality and in depth play to match what secular game developers can produce.  That being said...the love that kids have for video games can still be tapped into by using video games as illustrations in lessons and as a way to connect into the world of today's kids. 

They prefer social media platforms.  Social media is king with today's kids.  It's how they communicate and interact with each other.  It's an integral part of their lives and is as natural as breathing for them.

Children's ministry implication:  Use social media to promote your ministry.  Children's ministries that want to effectively connect with today's kids must have a social media strategy. 

They are phone obsessed.  Their phone is part of their body.  They can't live without it.  Cut their phone off and they will quickly feel lost and go into panic mode.  It's how they survive in their digitally drenched world.

Children's ministry implication:  This ties closely into the previous point.  If social media is the communication flow of today's kids, then their phone is the gatherer of the communication.  If you want to connect with today's kids, it will be through the phone they clutch tightly every waking moment of their day.

They are worried about the environment.  They have been inundated with environmental awareness from birth.  They are being raised with a go-green, organic, save-mother-earth mindset.  This effects where they shop, what they buy and who they support.
  
Children's ministry implication:  It is our responsibility to steward the earth God has given us to live on.  Give kids opportunities to make an environmental difference through recycling bins, using environmentally friendly products at church, giving toward mission projects that help people and the environment they live in, etc. 

Today's kids are here.  Are you ready to reach them? 

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