A Real Life "Truman Show"

http://www.newscientisttech.com/channel/tech/dn9167.html

New Scientist Magazine reports that a man will be voluntarily wiring his house with "fish eye" lense cameras to scientists can observe his family and newborn to learn more about how language develops in infants.

Trend-Savvy Parenting by Dr. Mary Manz Simon

I was with Dr. Simon last weekend at the GLASS/CMTA Convention for church workers in Pasadena, CA and it was a great treat to hear from this amazing LEARNER and CULTURAL INTERPRETER for children's ministers. Her workshops are always very well attended and the interplay of digital finesse (great powerpoints!) and insightful content make her the sine qua non of what we need to hear in children's ministry!

Her new book, Trend-Savvy Parenting (Tyndale House Publishers, 2006, 150 pages) is amazing in it's review of key trends affecting children's ministers and, more precisely her target audience: Parents! The organization of the book is compact, succinct and extremely helpful. The 35 trends are three to four page chapters that are subdivided into:

1. What is it?

2. Why should I care?

3. What can I do?

The trends are startling for their immediate relevance: Insulated Kids, KAGOY, Cyber Bullying, Edutainment, Tech Tethers, Pay2play, PC Immersion, etc. These are amazing, but my favorite is Kidfluence+ which is an indicator of children's rank and power in a family! Great stuff and a must read for all of us (it took me 2 hours to read it all, it's pretty small and great practical reading)!

10 Years of Technology THE 5 Key Moments!

Jason Fry writes Real Time every Monday for the Wall Street Journal. Jason is an editor at the Online Journal, and also co-writes The Daily Fix sports column. But today his Real Time hits 5 Key "A-Ha" moments in the past 10 years. They are:

1.  Google–nuff said! But for Children's Ministers have you thought about this highly intuitive SEARCH engine that is our FIRST STOP when we wonder, have questions, are confused or just in need of quick answers? We are a world of SEARCHERS!!!!! What algorithms are you creating to adjust to the search habits of your kids?

2.  Broadband–quick! No, we want it NOW and broadband is just so awesome!

3.  ITunes–we listen in the car to any song we like (our current favorite is "Little Girl" by John Michael Montgomery–my 11th grader and 8th grader and I all cry every stinkin time we play it!)

4.  TiVo–We can have shows when we want them without clutter of ads!

5.  Blogging–making every PC a printing press! No editors, no filters, just writing for the pure joy of thought and discipline!

Kids Spend More Time on the Web than TV

These days, people are spending as much time in front of a computer as a television — in some cases, even more. Adults spend about 14 hours a week watching TV and 14 online, compared with 11 watching TV and 10 online two years ago, according to JupiterResearch. Young adults, ages 18 to 24, spend about 10 hours a week online, two hours more than they spend watching TV. Many don't even own TVs but have laptops.

1 Billion Personal Computers Connected to the Web By 2007!

Today, Bill Gates, Chairman and Chief Software Architect for Microsoft and Paul Otellini, President and CEO of Intel have a great editorial in today's Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114765271807852552.html?mod=todays_us_opinion for a fee) that makes an astonishing commentary from two people who are betting their business on the future of our personal computers.

The great assertion in this, "Early next year, the number of computers in use around the world that are connected to the World Wide Web will pass the one billion mark. More than 250 million PCs will ship this year alone. Last year, laptops based on Intel Centrino mobile processors and Microsoft Windows XP outsold the highly popular iPod. Not only is the PC alive and well, but it continues to expand its global reach, delivering new capabilities, more choices and new opportunities to more and more people every single day, in every part of the world."

Did you read that? 1 Billion connected people! If my family is typical, one computer is used by more than one person! What are we as children's ministers doing to connect our kids? Connect our parents? Connect our Volunteers? Connect those who are searching for hope and truth and peace?

The "Build a Bear Workshop" Continues to Grow/ The Customization Piece

Business Week reports a sharp increase in the stock of the "Build-A-Bear" workshop. "Build-A-Bear" is a store that allows a children to designed their own stuffed animal. Children love the ability to create a one-of-a-kind customizable bear.

Is "customization" a fad or a trend in our culture? You tell me. Nike has a website where adults can create their own one of a kind sneakers. The children's Sonic video game franchise has a "Chao" world, where children can raise unique creatures based off what they feed it and how nurturing they are with them.

Adult ministry is currently grappling with issue of customization. "S.H.A.P.E" and "Network" classes help adults discover their unique design. Ron Martoia's excellent book "Morph!" presents us with the notion of an "ergonomic faith"– a way of expressing our faith that acknowledges that God has given each of us a unique design.

I don't pretend to exactly know what this will look like in children's ministry. But I'm convinced that we will need to begin to introduce a "customization" piece to our ministries more and more. I recently blogged about teaching spiritual gifts to children. But I think that's just the beginning. We need to help children discover that faith fits them… that a child and families uniqueness isn't a barrier being a part of our ministries, but an assess.

Hispanic's Gain In Census: Are You Reaching Them?

[Census]

The Wall Street Journal today has the following graph associated with a great story that underscores the recent trend toward diversity. The shift has great implications to how we do ministry to understand that we are a melting pot, melting even more broadly and proportionately!

Keep current and recognize that Whites are DECREASING from 70% of the population in 2000 to 67% today!!

Nappaland.com

Here's a great website for those of you who want to keep up on the latest movies, music, and books. You might have noticed that Keith and I occasionally blog about leadership and children's ministry book, but we don't cover trends in media. Our friends at www.nappaland.com fill that gap. After a long hiatus, the creative mind of Mike Nappa is back.

www.nappaland.com is a great resource for you as children's ministry leader looking for a balanced evaluation of the latest pop culture has to offer. I'm a contributing book editor for the site and I'll be keeping up with the NYT's Best Seller's list.

And here's the best news. You can contact www.nappaland.com for free reprint on any of the material for your church newsletter or website.

USA TODAY: Infant Mortality Rate High Among Developed Nations

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2006-05-09-infant-mortality_x.htm

CHICAGO (AP) — America may be the world's superpower, but its survival rate for newborn babies ranks near the bottom among modern nations, better only than Latvia.

The Pool of Bethesda

I spoke at a small conference for children's ministers working with special needs children this weekend in Warren, PA. We were discussion Jesus' miracles and the miracle at the pool of Bethseda came to the surface as perfect metaphor for the "one-size-fits-all" madness that we perpetual in the church.

I need to confess something… this account has always troubled me. I can't stand the design of how poeple were ministered to in the account. All of the diseased and the infirmed came and sat pool side. Cripples, the blind, the deaf, and other physically handicapped people waited for the waters to move. An angel would stir the waters, and whoever noticed the water moving first, provided he or she had superior ambulatory powers, would drop into the waters would be healed.

Everyone else would have to wait.

In my human, limited perspective the story seems harsh. It's like those swell kids from "Lord of the Flies" decided to run the special olympics for a day. Only the strong found healing. If you couldn't get to the pool first, no Divine Intervention for you. I accept the situation as true becuase I find it between the covers of my Bible.

But you can't make me like it.

Jesus, apparently, didn't care for the arrangement either. He violated the protocols of both the pool and Sabbath and healed the lame man. Jesus acts obvious to the program.

I think sometimes you and I inadvertantly create "healing pools" in our ministries that keep the weakest of the weak from finding health. Our classes meet the needs of most. But if we encounter a child who is exceptionally disruptive due to physical handicaps or mental health issues, we clutch tighted to our protocols and our rules. And Divine Intervention is only offered to the strong, the whole, and the healthy. And we introduce Darwinian strain into our children's ministries. Only the strong survive here.

Or we can be Jesus, and violate our own protocols and rules. We can step away from our security and truly seek to meet and understand the needs of special needs children and their families. We create safe-places for children to "rise and walk" and then show them how their sins can be forgiven.

Karen… if you read this, you are going a great thing in rural Warren, PA. Calvary Baptist has bigger heart than many churches ten times its size.