Knowing When Kids Are Tired of What You're Doing

Something interesting happened recently.  Warner Bros. / Time Warner released a new Lego movie called The Lego Ninjago Movie.  It was the third Lego movie released, but there was a problem.  It didn't do as well as projected.  It opened with $21.245 million in sales.  This is a huge drop compared to the previous Lego movies which opened with $69 million and $55 million in sales.

I'm sure producers are working through why this happened.  Was it because of the previews and reviews?  Plenty of online content already available for families?  Competing movies?  Maybe the movie just wasn't that good?

Or could it be that kids and families are growing tired of Lego movies?  Perhaps it just doesn't hold the appeal that the first movie did?  

One thing I've discovered over the years is this.  It's important to know when kids and families are getting tired of what you are doing.  If you miss the cues and plow ahead, oblivious to the fact they are done with what you're still doing, you risk losing them.

What are some signs you should watch for?

When kids and families grow tired of what you are doing, they begin voting with their feet.  This is the easiest way to know.  Kids and families start attending less frequently or stop coming at all.  Attendance begins to decline.  Or in the scenario mentioned above, they don't show up at the movie theater and ticket sales decline.

When kids grow tired of what you are doing, they begin looking around.  When kids are engaged, they look at what is engaging them.  When you lose their attention, they begin looking around.  They may also begin talking among themselves and start trying to entertain themselves.

When kids grow tired of what you are doing, you start hearing "this is boring."  When a kid says something is "boring," it means they are tired of it. 

When kids and families grow tired of what you are doing, they loose their enthusiasm.  There's no excitement, energy or passion.  Things seem flat and dull.  They just start going through the motions.

How can you avoid kids and families getting tired of what you are doing?

Constantly evaluate.  Is what we are doing working?  What needs to be adjusted?  Are the kids still engaged with this?  How can we improve?  Is there anything we need to stop doing?  Here's how I did this every week.

Watch the kids.  Are they engaging during the service?  Are they singing during worship?  What is their countenance when they come and leave?  Check out this post about how the most engaging children's television show ever made did this.

Monitor the ministry pulse.  Keep track of attendance.  Watch for trends and patterns.  Track key spiritual growth steps.  Keep a dashboard of things you consider key elements and indicators in your ministry.

Ask them.  Another easy way to tell if kids and families are tired of what you are doing is to ask them.  One of the best ways to do this is through focus groups.  You can read more about this in this post about kids' focus groups and this post about parent focus groups. You can also get feedback through an online survey.  

Don't make teaching series last too long.  I have found through experience that after 4-5 weeks, kids get tired of a teaching series.  I see teaching series that last 7-8 weeks and believe it is a miss.  You can sense after 4 weeks that kids are ready to move to something new.  I designed all of our teaching series to last a month and it kept the kids engaged.  Many of the teaching series are available now as instant downloads at this link. 

Be willing to change.  Once you see that kids and families are growing tired of something, you need to be willing to change what's not working.

I remember years ago, I started a mid-week program in a ministry I was leading.  For the first few years, there was a lot of excitement.  People voted with their feet and over 400 kids were attending on Wednesday nights.  But gradually, it began to lose momentum.  As people voted with their feet in the other direction, attendance began to wain.  I knew it was time to make a change and do something new and different.

There were a few people who wanted to hang onto the dying program and they let me know.  When this happens, the temptation is to continue doing for the few, what the majority is tired of. 
Don't make the mistake of continuing to do something that the majority of the kids and families are tired of just because a few vocal families want to hang onto it. 
Why?  Because when you hang onto something that needs to be released, it keeps you from experiencing the new thing God has ready for the ministry.  It also ties up resources that could be used more effectively.
Honor yesterday's ministry,  but don't let it rob you of tomorrow's blessings.
All across the country, you can find churches that are in the process of dying or have died and now sit empty.  How did it happen?  Somewhere back there, kids and families got tired of what the church was doing.  But church leadership either ignored the signs or refused to change.

Don't be that ministry.  Know the signs and make changes when needed.

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  What are some other signs kids and families are tired of what you are doing?  What are some other steps you should take to keep ministry fresh and exciting?  

Share your thoughts, ideas and insight with us in the comment section below.