Reaching Youth Via Tech


March 24, 2017

By Ryan McLouth

The last few weeks we’ve been talking about technology, sound production and notation—all practical components of worship. This month, let’s talk about getting youth involved with worship.
    
I think we would all agree that the success of the church and ministry in general can heavily depend on the interests and involvement of our youth.     
    
After all, who will be left to lead the church once we as adults have moved on? If you are a parent, teacher, youth pastor, or have been involved with young adults at all in the last several years, you may be familiar with the challenges of this generation. It comes without saying first of all that this generation is the most technologically savvy group yet.         

Sometimes, the easiest way to engage young people is to speak to them in their own language. I think this means we need to be willing to abandon our fears and hesitations about technology, and surrender to mediums that will provide immediate success for us. 
    
Technology can be utilized in many different ways in the church and in worship in order to facilitate connection and communication with young adults. The first and most obvious step in this process should be a visual one. If your congregation/church leadership is willing, you need to consider utilizing projection at the front of your worship space as soon as possible. This is not to say that you will fail without a forward visual cue, but I do believe that this is one of the easiest ways to begin the process. Our young folks are conditioned to direct their attention toward devices most of the time. A projection screen with rich and robust visual cues is one of the easiest ways to tap into this circumstance. If it is a possibility, remember that the content of the projection is perhaps just as important as the hardware. Plan your visuals carefully.
    
My next suggestion has been a controversial one recently — not only in worship services, but also in classrooms. However, if connecting with young people and growing the church is your interest, I think that this is worth considering. Find a way to connect young people through their mobile devices. I have seen this succeed in instances where young people have been asked to take anonymous polls, post to social media, or connect with the worship leader during the service. 
    
However, I think there needs to be a purpose in doing this. Perhaps presenting the results of a poll or commentary on the projection screen, or sending versed information back to the participants through their mobile devices during the worship service could serve as a reasonable purpose. There are multiple resources available that can pose examples of how to implement this in your congregation. The key is don’t fear the use of technology or instantly label it as a distraction. Just be sure to manage how it is being used and always have a purpose in mind. This way we can avoid a circumstance in which devices become a distraction.
    
If you have any questions or concerns about this topic, please feel free to communicate with me at any time. You can contact me at rmclouth@centralmethodist.edu or 660-651-9964. Until next time, keep playing and singing!