Today my son woke up excited to go to school. This doesn’t happen everyday (even though he is in the second grade and I have a feeling it will get much worse when he hits the middle school years.) So why was he excited? He explained to me that his school was having a BYOT day. All the kids were encouraged to “bring your own technology”. If the student didn’t have a mobile device they could check one out from the library for the day. The school even had a list of free apps they encourage parents to download to their child’s device. Imagine all of the 2nd-5th graders walking into school with their iPod Touches and iPads ready for the school day. Well that is exactly what happened today.
This may sound odd to you but I believe this is going to be more of a reality in the next 2-3 years then we can imagine. Think about this, there are more mobile devices on the planet than there are toothbrushes. That means it is more likely that people around the world will make a phone call today or send a text message than brush their teeth. To some, reading this information it scares you and to others it excites you. Either way I think we must acknowledge that our world is changing from “technology is an interruption in our lives” to “technology is an integration into our lives”.
So what does this mean as a small group leader? I’m glad you asked. I was subbing as a small group leader not long ago (sorry–I typically serve in the large group area more than in small groups) and the lesson was about David and Goliath. As I was reading through the lesson the day before, I saw an image of David slinging stones at a giant who looked like an impossible structure to bring down and it hit me. I know of a game where birds are being slung from slingshots to hit what seems like an impossible structure as well. Yes, I brought my iPad to the small group and we played Angry Birds to open up the story of David vs Goliath. Was it successful? If kids remembering what happened in church measure success, then it was very successful.
My son doesn’t have BYOT everyday at his school. I don’t think we should play angry birds or even use iPads every in small group. I think the point is that we can be intentional in our use of technology in small groups with the goal of integrating faith into the everyday life of the elementary child. We should be asking the question, “Could this be enhanced by technology or would technology be an interruption into the building of relationships?” Don’t use technology just because you think it is cool but on the flip side don’t discredit technology because you think it is a distraction.
Who knows, BYOT may become a practice that you start doing at your own church. In fact, it may be happening now and you don’t even know it…