Editorial: Plugging Kids Into Mission
Plugging Kids Into Mission
by Paulo Macena
Whether we’re parents or church leaders, many of us have great concern regarding the excessive online use of our youth. And, we have reason to be concerned. Solomon said, “For everything, there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven,” (Eccl. 3:1, NLT). God offers the gift of time to everyone, and He expects us to use it in His mission for the church. In Christ’s Object Lessons, Ellen White also said, “Our time belongs to God. Every moment is His, and we are under the most solemn obligation to improve it to His glory. Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than of our time” (p. 342).
We also need to accept that we live in a tech world, and technology is an essential part of our youths’ lives. That’s a fact. Period. The youth will use their gadgets. They will connect through social media. They will surf the Internet daily. They will check their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts. Our goal shouldn’t be to stop them because we won’t totally succeed and we will get frustrated. Instead, our goal should be to teach them to use their online time in a way that will glorify God and bring the lost closer to Him.
New Methods of Evangelism
I believe our kids want to be involved in the church. They love Jesus and want to share Him with others, but we can’t ignore the fact that the methods they use for sharing the gospel are different. I have found it hard to convince the youth to take time to distribute flyers or invite people to church. It is easier to train them to be involved in sharing the good news on their Facebook walls, through a picture, Bible verse or quote to proclaim the Lord’s salvation with their thousands of virtual friends.
If you are getting frustrated by your youth spending time on the Internet, don’t be. Take advantage of it. Ask them to help create videos, edit event promotions, share events on their wall, be in charge of the media department or make PowerPoint presentations. I’m sure they will have time for that.
I have two teenage daughters who are as connected as other teens. They know how to handle computer programs that I have no idea how to work. They love editing pictures and making videos on iMovie for YouTube. I cannot forbid them from being connected. That is part of their life. But, I can teach them how to use their online time to exalt God’s name. One of my daughters now has an anti-bullying Facebook page, and another one has a page for girls on self-esteem. That’s how they serve the Lord!
Teaching our youth to unplug (at least from time to time) and enjoy the real world is important, but involving them in Jesus’ mission should be our real goal.
Paulo Macena is the Youth Ministries and communication director for the New Jersey Conference.