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Wired Ministry

Ann Diaz


This technology comes with serious wow-factor for children -- awe-inspiring characters such as toucans and monkeys programmable to move, talk, and respond to kids.

Field Notes:  These animatronic puppets vary in size, character, and application and can be programmed by teachers or techies.

"We're bringing Disney-level animatronics into the Sunday school class," says Steve Axtell of Axtell Expressions. "What was once $30,000 or more is now less than $5,000." These animatronic puppets are brand new to the market.

Price Tag: About $3,000 to $4,200, depending on characters and options

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Ann Diaz is a freelance writer and editor in Colorado.

Are you game?

Video games are officially mainstream; no doubt the kids in your ministry spend hours each week gaming. Though you might not be a gamer yourself, an understanding of this culture is important if you want to have relevance in the eyes of your kids. As with the cultural trajectory of rock music, which was eventually embraced by Christians as a form of outreach to an entire generation that had become disenfranchised from the established church, we can embrace video games within the proper boundaries and find ways to use them as vehicles for Jesus' message.

Setup: Adding video gaming systems in your children's ministry area will definitely change the dynamic of your space...and kids will be eager to get to class. You don't have to have the newest systems. We simply asked for donations from church members, and we got everything we needed.

We use these basic ground rules:

• Games can only be played before or after the service.

• All games have to be approved by the children's ministry leader.

Boundaries: Because we've embraced this new medium with our children, we now have the equity to teach boundaries for it with our kids. The bottom line: The games are a tool, not the reason for attendance. But we also stress that kids need to know the rules and boundaries at home with the message that it's unhealthy to spend all your free time gaming, and you have to be careful about the content of the games you play.

If we'd not embraced gaming in our ministry, we'd have a weaker platform from which to speak into that area of kids' lives.

Lingo: Another benefit of embracing gaming is that we can converse with children about something they love. Gaming is truly another world, and gamers sometimes speak a different language. It'll take time, but if you learn the lingo of gaming you'll have enhanced credibility with your kids.

Outreach and Family: One of our most successful outreaches last year was our Gaming Night. Using gaming as an outreach opens a door to kids who might not otherwise step foot in the church. Also, more and more families are beginning to play together. Encouraging families to bond in this way and teaching them proper boundaries is yet another way we can speak into the lives of the families of our church.

Opening your ministry to games as a tool will make you more relevant and more effective at reaching this generation of digital natives.

Bill Anderson is a family pastor and writer in Berlin, Ohio.

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