Previously I wrote about five forces or broad trends that we are facing as children’s and family ministry leaders (the rise of the individual, connectivity, Twitter Speed, Rip-Mix-Burn-Share, and Motion Blur).  Today’s blog deals with the fourth force.

From the original article:
Rip, Burn, Mix, Share:  The iTunes mantra has become the new normal for content.  Television shows or news programs get live video responses then mashed up, auto-tuned, and delivered to YouTube.  Did you know that Google recently changed its copyright enforcement largely because of a YouTube video of a wedding party dance that turned a song into Sony’s 8th best seller in history?  Tutorials for professional software are distributed with the original files so that users can think up new ways of creating content, all for free.

Kids are used to creating their own content.  One of my favorite weekends of the year is the weekend after Christmas because I love finding out what kids get for Christmas compared with what they asked for.  In 2009, a laptop and cellphone was a popular gift.  The Nintendo DSi was probably the most popular “big gift.”  Wii games were far more common than XBox or PS3 games.  What’s the common thread here?
•    Digital tools
•    Mostly portable
•    Customizable: phones have apps, games have avatars, electronics have preferences)
•    Little to no text involved (more on that below)
•    Content-creation: Most of these gifts carry the ability to create, draw, paint, write, record, and distribute content.
•    Web: these tools mostly connect to the Internet either wirelessly or through a computer connection so that content can be shared
What content are we allowing kids to create in our ministry?  How are we delivering the life-changing, soul-transforming truth of God’s infallible, everlasting Word to them?  Are we just talking to kids who learn and play digitally?

For generations, graphics were generally illustrations, accompanying the text and providing some kind of clarification to a concept. For kids today, the relationship is almost completely reversed. The role of text is to provide more detail to something that was first experienced as an image.  Since childhood, the digital generation has been continuously exposed to television, videos, and computer games that put colorful, high-quality, highly expressive graphics in front of them with little or no accompanying text.  The result of this experience has been to considerably sharpen their visual abilities.  They find it much more natural than our generation to begin with visuals, and to mix text and graphics in richly meaningful and personal ways. Digital learners need to be able to communicate as effectively graphically as we were educated to communicate with text.

So here’s some points of application:
•    Use more pictures, music, and video in your ministry
•    Create your own content (I’m always surprised at how much more kids enjoy video content that we create in-house than content we purchase)
•    Limit text (says the man writing a blog – but this blog is for digital immigrants, not digital natives so I guess I’m okay)
•    Start exploring your creativity (you have to read Henry Zonio’s article on creativity – it’s a great start)
•    Explore ways for kids to create their own content
•    Invest in a popular digital tool and start experimenting with it!  Have a child teach you how to use it (as my 3 year old daughter taught me how to use her new digital camera)