How does the Internet impact relationships?

One of the critical questions that children’s and family ministry leaders face is the issue of how technology impacts relationships.  Regardless of where I travel to speak with children’s ministry leaders and volunteers, in every venue I am asked to respond to this issue.  A subset of questions on this issue include: •    Does the Internet and digital communication dilute real relationships? •    Are the benefits of digital relationality better than the dangers? The Pew Research Center recently released a report that deals with the heart of this issue entitled, “The future of social relations.”  Out of the 895 respondents, none of them were children.  This report was based on the input of adults, many whom are web experts and technological pioneers.  The respondents were give two statements and asked to agree with one statement. Around 85% of the respondents agreed with this statement: “In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage, and other relationships, I see that the internet has mostly been a positive force on my social world.  And this will only grow more true in the future.” Some 14% of the respondents agreed with the opposite statement: “In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage, and other relationships, I see that the internet has mostly been a negative force on my social world.  And this will only grow more true in the future.” What about you?  Which statement do you agree with? Here’s an excerpt from the report for further perspective on the respondent’s input: Some survey respondents noted that with the...

Resources for Design

I know a lot of people who spend time designing their own graphics for children’s ministry, without the benefit of a design degree or professional training.  Here are some sites I go to for help: Planet Photoshop – Great site with lots of tutorials that can make ordinary pictures look incredible. Digital Photography Review – If you want to get the low-down on any digital camera, ever, go to this site.  It will help you decide what camera to buy when the time comes to replace what you have or bump up to the next level. Smashing Magazine – Tip of the hat to Henry Zonio for introducing me to this site.  Smashing Magazine offers free resources like wallpaper, cons, graphics, themes, photos, and fonts.  You can also access tons of information on virtually any design topic. Lynda.com – Lynda has been around since 1995, but I have never really used it until I had a volunteer come on my team who basically became a Photoshop and Final Cut guru through Lynda’s online training courses. Lynda helps people learn, master, and apply digital tools and techniques. i love typography – Offers free, amazing fonts and articles on the art of typography.  An amazing resource that will help you stop your reliance on Comic...

How to connect with parents online

I officially received my “I’m old” card when we took my oldest daughter to sign up for Kindergarten.  My daughter will be one of the fine members of the class of 2023.  In our school district, a lot of information is shared with parents online.  I’m wondering, when will the church catch up? Author and blogger Ian Jukes told me once that the field of public education operates 10 years behind technology.  If that is true, how far behind does the church operate? I know the big question that many churches and leaders are asking is, how do we resource parents?  Are there any web-based connecting tools to link parents and kids to what’s going on at church, similar to the tools used by school districts?  The most innovative ideas we have at present involve printing a piece of paper or sending a stylized email.  In the digital age, that’s just not going to cut it (and presently it is not).   What are the innovative ways churches are connecting with parents digitally? For insight into an e-learning connection public education tool, see:...

Tools and Twools

I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to figure out which social media tools are necessary for me to both learn and network.  Here’s my breakdown of the tools that are out there and how they work for me: Facebook – I gave up Facebook for Lent and now, I spend very little time on the site. I’ve found that from a children’s ministry perspective, most of the people I am networking with are on Twitter. CMConnect – I just got started on cmconnect and for a newbie, it is a pretty vast resource.  I’ve never been that much into discussion boards and again, I find that most of the people who are commenting a lot or blogging a lot are already on Twitter. Blogs – I’m a blogaholic.  Thankfully, NetNewsWire feeds (yes, that pun was intended) my addiction.  While blogs are most often a one-way communication, I’ve enjoyed reading the comments on several children’s ministry blogs and from time to time I chime in.  I think for the person out there just started to get into connecting with the broader field of children’s ministry, blogs are a great way to get your feet wet.  I’ve also found that most anti-blog people have blogs and while they quote Wired Magazine’s quip that “blogs are dead,” I’m pretty sure that Wired Magazine has 12 blogs and they post 25+ stories a day. Alltop – I think Alltop is an amazing tool to get content fast.  AllTop advertises itself as an “online magazine rack of popular topics.”  You pick the topic, news category, or name and Alltop delivers it to...

Facebook: Who’s uses it more?

It just came across my feed reader, so I had to quickly post something (I know it’s Sunday)… Time Magazine just released an article that presents some interesting information about the popular social networking site, Facebook.  Who do you think uses Facebook more? Teenagers or Adults? You might be surprised (especially if you have teenage volunteers who update their status every 20 seconds), adults over 25 make up more than 50% of the Facebook online community.  The article raised an important question that I think those in children’s ministry are facing.  What does the proliferation of online resources do to “real” relationships? Here’s my take… I’ve heard from many voices in the field of children’s ministry.  Some are on the opposite side of technology, thinking it erodes “real” relationships and provides kids with a mere shadow of community.  Others (like Johnny Rogers or Aaron Reynolds) want ministries to engage, posing that media enhances “real” relationships.  Here’s the problem.  For the digital kid who sits in your church, media does not enhance relationships.  It is relationships.  The friends they have on Facebook are just as good if not better friends than those a child meets with face to face.  Social networking did not enhance or replace the real thing, it just became part of the real thing.  I think this is a key issue that the field of children’s and family ministry needs to address and fast, otherwise we will have a difficult time engaging the kids on any relational...