In only 15 years, our world has changed quite a bit. When we talk with fellow children’s ministers, they often can’t believe it. Because it can be hard to miss.
Over 15 years ago, you could pop in a Veggie Tales tape (yes, a tape!), and you’d be fine. But kids have changed. Radically.
The first major shift
For one, kid-stuff is “out”. Kids don’t want kid-stuff anymore. They want stuff for teenagers. Ask any kid in the 8-12 range what books they read and you’ll hear:
The Lost Hero
The Fault in our stars
Ask them what games they play and they’ll say:
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare
Assassins Creed Syndicate
Clash of Clans
All of these franchises are for teenagers, but kids love them.
We can’t believe it…but we have to
I’ve often told children’s ministers about this phenomenon and I hear, “No kids are not into teenage stuff, they’re just acting tough.” But if you ask gamer kids what level they prefer, they know. If you ask movie kids what scene they like, they know. The more I ask, the more I learn that they aren’t lying. It’s crude to say, but sometimes we lie to ourselves.
What the games industry already knows…
Our friend was a top executive at E.A., one of the top 3 game publishers. He said, “Never make kid-games man, it’s impossible to monetize. Kids will play older stuff.” We hear the same from the music industry. Ethical or not, the secular industries have caught on to this change. But have we?
So what does this mean for your ministry?
This major shift means that if your ministry (ages 7-12) is relevant to kids, it’s actually not. Style-wise, it’s outdated. But if your ministry is relevant to teenagers, you hit the mark. Bulls-eye!
Every disadvantage is really an advantage
At KidsWantAnswers.com we don’t believe that this shift is bad. It’s actually incredible and filled with new opportunities. See, the curriculum we produce works for both kids and teenagers… and even adults. It spreads through families that way. Take this video for example. All ages love it. The golden rule: As we leave the “kid-stuff” behind, we actually bring all ages together.
Here are seven major advantages of being a “youth ministry for kids”:
- Teenagers will like to serve in your ministry, because it isn’t cheesy kid-stuff anymore.
- Adults will be reached by your message as well (we hear from volunteers that the message at the kid-service ministered to them).
- Parent involvement will be greater, because the lessons and take-home sheets aren’t only fun for their kids.
- Church involvement will rise because you can show trailers and snippets of what you’re doing, and people will be jealous to join.
- Men will be more involved in kids ministry, because they don’t have to put up a “high pitched voice” when talking with kids anymore. 😀
- Kids will feel treated with respect because they’re treated like their older brother and sister.
- The “older-kids-are-goofing-off-in-the-back” phenomenon can be completely removed (we’re speaking from experience). Instead, they’ll stand on stage.
Today’s Children’s ministry needs a “statue storm”.
In Europe there was a “statue storm” during the reformation, where churches were radically changed. We need a mild version of that in our ministry. Let’s reevaluate our use of primary colors, of puppets, of songs without bass, and of our curriculum. It’s a wonderful new era. Let’s walk into it!
What it all comes down to
We can no longer pop in a tape to keep kids occupied. We’re going to have to be genuine friends with the kids, treating them like we treat our own generation (Acts 13:36). And who knows, these kids may become your friends for life.
And boy, isn’t that an incredible thing?
Ruben & Efraim