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).  I’d like to address each one of these trends and present some ideas and possibilities for response.

From the original article: Twitter Speed: Clearly everything is getting faster and more powerful.  Computers, cell phones, netbooks, and the Internet.  Five years ago, only 81% of American households had access to a low speed Internet connection!  Now 96% of American households are connected to or have access to a high speed Internet connection.

Many of you may not have heard of Ian Jukes.  Dr. Jukes is an educator who specializes in digital learners.  He has researched their needs, preferences, successes, and failures.  His books include Teaching the Digital Generation, Windows on the Future: Education in the Age of Technology, and Understanding the Digital Generation: Teaching and Learning in the New Digital Landscape (forthcoming April 2010).  Dr. Jukes used the phrase “twitch speed” when I met with him 4 years ago to discuss an idea I had for children’s ministry (the creation of a safe social networking site for kids).

According to Dr. Jukes (quoted from a lecture entitled “Closing the Digital Divide”):
Today’s generations operate at twitch speed due to constant exposure to video games, hypertext, and all of the other experiences that reflect an increasingly digital world together with an expectation that they will have access to this world. As a result, Digital Learners have had far more experience at processing information quickly than we do, and they’re better at dealing with high-speed information. To coin a phrase from the movie Top Gun, Digital Learners have “a need for speed,” but many teachers only feel comfortable processing information at conventional speed. As a result, after spending hours of their lives playing video games, using digital devices and wandering around in virtual worlds, many Digital Learners literally run into a wall when they come to school and are forced to slow it down or dumb it down in order to function.

I changed Dr. Jukes’ phrase to Twitter speed because it is not only about the speed itself, but about the structure of the content.  If you want to read the best article on Twitter and how to use it, check out Henry Zonio’s great summary here.

Twitter is structured to allow messages with a maximum of 140 characters to be posted.  Try typing 10 complete thoughts with only 140 characters, it’s not easy.  In fact, those who post the most on Twitter have become so disciplined that their “tweets” are almost scientific (@prodigaljohn, @maxlucado, @samchand are some of my favs).  So, let me share some application points for ministry to adopt Twitter speed:
•    Structure your service with a main point that is less than 140 characters
•    Discipline your staff and volunteers to know the point and be able to talk to a kid about it
•    Create questions that help kids get to the point on their own
•    Employ digital tools (like an iPod touch, digital camera, or Flip) in small group settings to engage kids in finding / reading the Bible passage, retelling the story, or recording application scenarios

Here’s one thing we’ve tried:
Our 4th/5th grade leaders put up a Post-It Poster with a question that every child must answer before we go to large group.  The question is crafted to prepare them for the main point of the day.  Here’s a key difference in how we ask the question.  – – We could get them into a big group and ask them before we leave for large group (gathering 2-3 responses), but instead we leave the question in their hands
•    We give them the time they need to answer it
•    The question is also there right at the beginning of their experience
•    The entire volunteer staff knows the question and follows up with pockets of kids throughout our activity station time