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Avoiding Technology Overload In The Classroom

Overload CroppedTechnology is everywhere. Youth wake up with it in the morning with their phone alarms, use laptops in school, talk/text/IM all day on their phones, and then they wind down at night by using it to read or play games on their iPads. So, when is technology too much in ministry?

Technology is a must have for youth today, and that can be a big draw to pull kids into your ministry. They expect it. They thrive on it. They depend on it for all of their communication needs. So, how can we, as leaders in ministry, keep a balance in the classroom and in the ministry in general?

At our church, we have a lot of technology at our fingertips in the classroom. We have TV’s in every room with flash-drives. Each flash-drive has all of our worship music/video clips downloaded on it. We also use PowerPoint games and show YouTube clips to emphasize Bible points in a lesson. The older youth even have an electronic self-check-in system they use to sign in every Sunday.

So far, I feel we‘ve found the right balance of using today’s technology with old school techniques to keep kids on their toes and to stay engaged. The hard part is realizing when it actually takes your ministry backwards instead of forwards.

One of the things I struggle with, as a teacher, is how to get kids to use a hard copy of the Bible… one that actually has pages, as a reference. Youth bring in their digital Bibles on their iPads and iPhones, which is great, but it’s hard to learn how to reference where chapters and verses are in a digital format. They are losing the ability to look up verses and chapters on their own. With a click of a button, their computers do it for them. Very convenient, but also, very heartbreaking, as kids are slowly losing the ability to really study the Bible in the way it was meant to be studied. Because of this, and the fact we do a lot of Bible reading and referencing, my kids are still highly encouraged to bring in their actual Bibles to class.

I am also very conflicted on how much we should incorporate technology in the classroom. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love using it to help stress Bible points, but my frustrations rise when I wrap too much of a lesson around it, only to have the technology ‘fail.’

So, what is the solution? We have to find a balance between what the kids ‘expect’ and what they actually ‘need’ to help them learn the Bible in a digital world.

Foremost, to fight technology overload, I think it is vital, when youth walk in, that they put away their phones and the class becomes a ‘phone-free’ zone. This enables a teacher to be able to allow the kids to be more focused on the Bible lesson.

Secondly, I would never recommend taking away technology completely, as it is the world we live in, and it would be a big disservice to any ministry—including mine! But, instead, be intentional on when to utilize it, such as emphasizing an important Bible point, or to help achieve ‘AHA’ moments when kids may be struggling with certain truths of the Bible. This allows your ministry to still keep up with the times by using technology that you love, but at the same time, keep it in check, so that technology doesn’t overshadow the whole purpose of what we, as teachers, are called to do… “to reach and bring the world to Christ.” (Blue Grass Church mission statement)

Melody Pfeffer
Preteen Ministry Coordinator,
Blue Grass United Methodist Church,
Evansville, Indiana

See a list of Melody’s blog posts here.

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