This month, Ministry to Parents focuses on Ministers Encouraging Parents through Technology. We asked Dan Istvanik, author of the Annual All-In-One Event Kit, a student pastor, and the student ministry team lead at Keystone Fellowship Church to share why ministry leaders need to talk about technology.
Why Ministry Leaders Need To Talk About Technology
If you are working in children’s ministry (Generation Alpha) or youth ministry (Generation Z), you are working with “Digital Natives.” Digital natives are young people who have never experienced a world without the internet, cellphones, and digital devices.
We live in a digital, technological age. Advances in technology have never been made so quickly or often in the history of the planet. In fact, some people believe the advances are progressing faster than we can handle or process.
When it comes to your church and ministry, technology may seem overwhelming. Many churches and older generations want to retreat into the safety of their stone buildings, behind stain glass windows, and enjoy a good old-fashioned sermon with special music provided by the organist. They would rather pretend the world is not changing.
In order to be relevant in today’s culture, we must be willing to step out of our comfort zones and be informed about technology. We must be willing to talk about it and teach Godly technology discernment to our students, families, and churches. Consider the following three reasons:
The Bible says to “…make the most of the time for the days are evil…”. I am not going to give a tirade about the evil of technology, because I believe our concern should be about the time. We need to talk about technology because it is a time vacuum. Indirectly, our students are in the presence of a screen almost the entire time they are awake. The average child between the ages of 8-18 is engaging in “screen time” approximately 7 hours a day.
As ministry leaders, we need to disciple our people in ways to spend their time. Using the older version of the above verse, we need to help them “redeem the time.” If we are not giving our families Godly wisdom and practical tools to manage screen time in their student’s lives, our clock of ministry effectiveness is almost out of time.
Jesus told His disciples to be alert, so they could “watch and pray, so they would not fall into temptation…” We need to do the same thing. We must talk about technology temptations, and not just the most common one of pornography. At least 50% of tweens and 75% of teens have been exposed to inappropriate content. Kids as young as 8 years old have their first exposure to adult content. This statistic needs to be part of the conversation with students and families if we want to keep young minds and hearts safe and help when temptation comes.
Technology temptation takes on other forms, as well, that comes from the same place as the “lust of the eye and the pride of life.” Along with sexual temptation, we also need to talk to our selfie-obsessed, photoshopped digital culture about pride, jealousy, and lying. Our digital culture calls us to stand up against the temptation to spend and become unwise stewards of God’s money through online gambling, shopping, and even overspending on things like video games.
The main door where temptation is crouching for our students and families is technology. Satan is knocking at that door, waiting to pounce, so we need to be standing at that door with the warning.
Godly thinking is true freedom. If our students and families can know the truth, they can be set free. In today’s culture, truth is taken captive by technology. People are no longer turning to good resources and the Bible for the answers. They “Google It” or check on Wikipedia. Our students are even adding a new source of ultimate truth in the form of YouTube. Over the last several years, YouTube has become the preferred location for advice, truth, and even spiritual thought for teens. Mixed in with the crazy dance videos and funny clips, students search for the technology age gurus of truth.
If we are to save the minds of the future generation of the church, we need to talk about technology’s influence on our thinking and understanding of ultimate truth. The keyword for this generation is “influence.” Experts and celebrities are not leading our young people; they are now being guided by “influencers.” Everything down to this generation’s socks and underwear is being influenced by online content, and it comes to them regularly through the flood of technology around them
We must speak up and use our voice to share God’s truth and the influence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of our families. As leaders, we must be willing to talk about the uncomfortable and even unpopular truths about technology. Reclaiming what is right, restoring what has been tainted, and rejecting what does not belong in the lives of Christ-followers is crucial as we learn to walk daily into the technological future.
Dan Istvanik is a student pastor and the Student Team Lead at Keystone Fellowship Church, a multi-site church outside of Philadelphia, PA. He has worked in youth ministry for 25 years, serving in churches in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Washington DC. He is a speaker, ministry coach, writer, and contributor to other ministry resources. You can contact Dan at www.mymresources.com, where he shares student ministry resources.
If you enjoyed Why Ministry Leaders Need to Talk About Technology, check out other posts on Technology:
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