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Computers in Sunday school suggested for tech-savvy teens

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–According to the book, “Growing Up Digital” by Don Tapscott, 80 million children of baby boomers are the first generation to be born into a world of computers.
“These kids aren’t afraid of digital machinery; they’re masters of it,” Tapscott wrote.
But while today’s young people are using personal computers at home and school, with few exceptions, they’re not using them at church.
“We’re a felt-board church in a PC world,” Kevin Boles, adult/youth Sunday school associate for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, told a group of youth workers attending his seminar, “Technology in Youth Sunday School on a Shoestring Budget.” The session was part of a National Sunday School Leadership Training Conference, July 13-17 at Ridgecrest (N.C.) Baptist Conference Center.
Boles encouraged youth workers to find ways to integrate technology into their Sunday school lessons, adding, “It doesn’t have to cost a fortune.”
Teachers can start by mixing less expensive examples of technology into their classroom teaching, he said, such as using a “boom box” or more advanced sound system to play Christian music on audiocassettes or compact discs. “I always have music playing as young people enter the classroom,” Boles said. “It results in more interaction — more fellowship. If I don’t have it on, the kids tend to go right to their seats.”
Other useful equipment is a VCR for showing Christian videos or “video loops” that combine Bible study with Christian music video clips. Video cameras can be used on video scavenger hunts or in putting together a video drama related to the lesson.
Once teachers use this type of equipment, they’ll be more confident in bringing the computer into the classroom, Boles said.
He encouraged workers to utilize computer-savvy youths’ interests.
“Let one of them put the lesson outline into a PowerPoint presentation for you. Tell them what kind of graphics and photos you want with it. They’ll usually say, ‘No problem.'”
Another option is visiting youth-related Christian Internet sites either during class time or in preparation for the lesson. Boles and other youth workers in his seminar mentioned the following sites as good resources:
— www.youthscape.com — an Internet web site produced by the youth Sunday school ministry department at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. In includes several resources for youth teachers, including Youth EXTRA! teaching helps which relate lessons for all three Bible study curriculum series to current events in the news;
— www.studentz.com — a site produced by the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board that includes youth-related evangelism and missions information and news about First Priority on-campus Bible study clubs;
–www.youthpastor.com — includes numerous helps for youth pastors, such as searchable database of games; Bible study lessons by topic; and e-mail mailing lists by denomination, organization or geographical area;
— www.everyschool.com — lists every high school in the United States and whether they have on-campus Bible studies.
Some youth Sunday school classes or church youth programs create their own Internet web pages, Boles said, including everything from a calendar of events to the plan of salvation. Tech-savvy teachers also gather addresses of students with e-mail access and send out prayer requests, updates about activities and events and other class-related news.
Boles also cited dozens of excellent Christian resources on CD and computer disks, such as “LessonMaker,” which includes Bible study lessons by topic and other helpful resources, and “StraigTrak: Teen Bible Studies on Current Issues,” which includes reproducible lessons and PowerPoint presentations on computer disk. An upcoming issue will be packaged on a CD, complete with Christian video clips that relate to the lessons.
Using technology in the classroom lets teens know you trying to be relevant, Boles said, adding “some technology is better than none.”
To begin the process of becoming technologically relevant, he suggested:
— surveying the resources the church already owns and exploring ways to use them;
— surveying the church membership for resources they have which might be available for use;
— contacting other churches in your area for help or your local association; and
— submitting budgeting suggestions to update and purchase new computer equipment.
“Above all else, think creatively,” Boles said. “That can make all the difference in your classes.”
The National Sunday School Leadership Training Conference was sponsored by LifeWay’s Sunday school division.

    About the Author

  • Chip Alford