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Video, Internet tapped to nurture on-mission millennial children

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–The generation composed of children at the new millennium presents special challenges to the church and to mission educators, according to a North American Mission Board official at “On Mission ’98,” the agency’s Aug. 2-6 emphasis at Ridgecrest (N.C.) Conference Center.
“Millennial children have six defining characteristics that we need to be aware of if we are going to impact this generation,” said Carmon Keith, editorial coordinator of LAD magazine. “If we don’t account for the differences in this generation of children, we will miss impacting them.”
According to Keith, the first defining characteristic is that millennials are idealistic. “These children are growing up believing they can make a difference. We want them to know that with God’s help, all things are possible.”
Second, millennials are committed to changing their world. “They gravitate toward social goals and human relationships. God’s hand is at work creating a heart in these children to be involved in something bigger than themselves,” Keith said.
Third, millennials work together. “Even public school systems are creating team environments for these children where they can learn from each other’s strengths and accept one another’s differences,” Keith said. “The more we get kids working together at church, the more effective we’ll be in training them.”
Fourth, millennials understand right from wrong. “Unlike the previous generation who believed, ‘If it’s right for you, then it’s OK,’ millennials will champion truth because they understand that there is truth. What a great opportunity we have to help children grab onto God’s Word as the absolute authority,” Keith said.
Fifth, according to Keith, family values captures the gist of millennial nurture. “This generation is family centered. They have a need to protect themselves from the harsh, unpredictable realities of the outside world,” she said.
Sixth, millennials need relationships. “Kids today are information-rich, but experience-poor. They need adult guidance to help them know what to do with all the information they have,” Keith said. “Don’t be tempted to compete with technology to make your ministries technologically exciting. What this generation needs is less stuff and more relationships.”
To this end, NAMB is changing and adapting its mission education material to create on-mission Christians from this generation. “Becoming an on-mission child is an upward, inward, outward and forward process, “Keith said. “It is a continuing process that is limited only by the child’s willingness to grow.
“If we want children to become on-mission adults, we must guide them in that direction now,” she said. “We aren’t changing the message; we’re just repackaging the method.”
To reach this generation, NAMB children’s mission education have been updated is updating its curriculum to reach this generation. MissionKids tells mission stories through the eyes of children, either children of missionaries or children touched by the ministry of a missionary. “The key is that it is very simple,” Keith said. “It is easy to use as a stand-alone piece or as the mission education segment with another program such as TeamKids.”
The Royal Ambassador program has been updated by adding a video feature, “X-treme Missions.” “The video is designed to bring missions alive to RAs,” Keith said. It includes scripture memory, North American and International missionaries and advancement segments. Plans are in place to produce an X-treme Missions-type of video that targets all kids, not just RAs, Keith said.
Additionally, www.kidzplace.org is a children’s Internet site that is interactive and fun for the children and informational for parents and teachers. It includes games, missionary stories, local mission education information and materials.
“Children can learn to be on mission with God,” Keith said. “They can experience many of the same spiritual growth processes as adults, but in age-appropriate ways.”

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  • Lynne Jones