One of the first lessons learned when working with children or teens is there are certain phrases you never want to hear. They aren’t necessarily sinful but preclude disaster just like the phrase “hey yall watch this” means something really bad is about to happen.
There are different phrases that strike fear in the hearts of children’s workers, but only one wakes them up in the middle of the night screaming. If there was a horror movie about children’s ministries this phrase would be the name of it because those three words have brought an end to countless ministries….and one of my religious education students said it Monday.
I heard her say the first two words and suddenly turned into Jack Bauer running in slow motion towards a bomb that would explode in five-seconds. But I was too late…time stopped as she said, “this is boring.”
There is something about those three words that can change the entire dynamic of a class. Kids who were really enjoying themselves suddenly become restless and unwilling to work because they want to be cool and view the lesson as boring like everyone else. Within five minutes we went from a discussion about why Jesus cleansed the temple and God’s Holiness to a group of kids who would rather be playing sports…and had no problem letting me know it.
Hearing the words “this is boring” is inevitable in ministry; you will hear it eventually. The question is how will you respond to that statement? I must admit that my first thought was to say “I don’t care and do it anyway” while rambling about how when I was a kid we played with something called legos instead of iPhones or Ipads, and had real cartoons like the original transformers or Gi-Joe. But thankfully thought better of it.
After sending the student to the corner so she could write reasons why Bible lessons aren’t boring (she ended up with twenty) I sat down and had a talk with her. Ends up she didn’t really think the class was boring at all but was upset about moving in about a month and losing all of her friends. The Lord used the disrupted class as an opportunity to find out what’s going on in her life, pray with her about those needs, and explain what the Bible says about the situation.
We all have those kids who act up or distract others during class and it’s easy to become frustrated with them. But the important thing to remember is their words or actions are actually used to cover up a deeper issue like leaving all their friends. It is necessary to bring structure or discipline into the situation…but it’s equally important to just sit down and ask, “what’s going on?”