May 18, 2017

The Quest to Never Be Boring


One thing you don't want to hear in children's ministry is "this is boring."  When a kid says something is boring, it means you are not capturing their attention or engaging their interests.

It's no small task to keep things from getting boring in children's ministry.  With shrinking attention spans, hundreds, if not thousands of entertainment options and rapidly advancing technology, it can be a big challenge to not bore kids with your programs, lessons and events.  

Even Pixar, the legendary animation studio struggles with this at times.  After 15 years of producing big hits, they are now struggling with what critics call inferior films, mostly producing lackluster sequels that are mere shadows of their glory days.  If Pixar struggles with keeping things fresh and exciting, imagine how challenging it can be for a children's ministry in a local church.  You have to be very intentional.  We must stay on a quest to never be boring. 

Here are some things that will help you on your quest.

Remember what was boring to you as a child.  You have an advantage.  You were a kid once.  And at times, you got bored as a kid.  Stop and think about what caused you to be bored.  Was it being made to sit still and listen to a "lecture-based" lesson?  Was it something that you'd already heard a hundred times?  Was it something that was too easy and didn't challenge you?  Was it something that was too "babyish' for your age level.  If it was boring to you as a child, there's a very good chance it will be boring to the kids in your ministry.  

Ask kids what is boring in your children's ministry.  This is so simple, but it works.  Ask kids what is boring in your ministry now.  You can do this by getting a group of kids together, surveys and other methods of gathering feedback.  You can read more about doing this through a kids' focus group at this link.

Watch for the "look away."  The next time you have a kids' service, watch the kids.  When you see them look away from the person who is talking or the activity that is going on, make a note of it.  You see, when kids are bored, they look away and redirect their attention to someone or something else. 

The children's television show "Blue's Clues" used this strategy to become the most engaging television show ever made for preschoolers.  Before an episode every hit the air, the producers would show it to a group of preschoolers.  They watched carefully and each time the kids looked away, they went back and tweaked that part of the show to make it more engaging.  

Honor kids' attention span.  It is critical to honor kids' attention span if you want to avoid being boring.  When you cross that line, you can be sure kids will start to get bored.  As a rule of thumb, you have one minute for every year of age, maxing out at 5 minutes.  In other words, if you are teaching 3-year-olds, you have about 3 minutes.  Once that 3 minutes is up, you need to switch and do something different to keep their attention.  This will enable you to re-sit their attention span and avoid being boring.

Use as many learning styles as you can each lesson.  Kids get bored when you try teaching them with methods that aren't part of their natural learning styles.  To avoid this, try to use as many learning styles as you can each lesson.  Some kids connect with music.  Some kids connect with visual images.  Some kids connect with physical movement.  The more learning styles you incorporate, the less you will hear "this is boring." 

Remember for kids, sitting still and being quiet usually equals boring.  The fastest way to be boring is to put a talking head in front of kids for a long period of time.  I remember as a child, sitting in a class at church, bored out of my mind, as the teacher endlessly droned on and on.  In fact, there were two teachers in the class who took turns teaching.  When one was teaching, we watched as the other teacher feel asleep in class.  We watched the minutes tick by, anticipating the moment we could be free from the torture.  Don't be that teacher. 

Stay current with kid culture.  Stay up with what kids think is cool and then incorporate these things into your lessons and themes.  It might be as simple as referencing it in your lesson as an illustration.  Here's an example.  Several years ago, when SpongeBob SquarePants was at the height of its polarity, we did a series called "SpongeWord Bible Pants."  We created a character for this, a theme song, videos, activities, etc.  The kids loved it so much that some of them literally cried when the series was over.  We definitely didn't hear the word "boring" from them. 

As I said at the beginning of this article, the quest to never be boring is challenging.  There will be times when you hit a home run and there will be times when you strike out.  Keep doing your best.  The message and truths we are trying to communicate to kids are the most important in the world.  We should never want to bore kids with God's Word.  The greatest message and truths deserve the best presentation.  Stay on your quest to never be boring!  It's worth it! 

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