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/ 28 March 2013

Boring, boring, boring, biscuits, boring, boring…

Children need to be part of a wider worshiping community where they get to worship and share life with adults.

Easter somehow seems like a good time to face this, and it’s something that most of us who work with children are already aware of but still let’s say it and name our issue; most children who go to our churches think it’s boring. In fact when we carried out a survey looking for the views of children who go to churches in our Diocese boring was the word that was used the most, just for the record biscuits came second and was the most used positive word!

So am I about to write a blog where I advance a theory as to how many biscuits a child must consume to in order to compensate them for how boring church is? Could we imagine that two biscuits would compensate for a botched all-age talk whereas a bucket of chocolate biscuits would be required for continued readings from the book of Lamentations? This of course assumes that any amount of biscuits could compensate us for having to listen to Lamentations. However, the opposite of being bored is not eating biscuits and the problem of bored children won’t go away with if that’s our solution.

So what is the opposite to boring? This week I’m going to suggest some things that it isn’t and next time we’ll look at what it is.

The opposite to boring isn’t entertainment.

One of my great bug-bears in the world of children’s ministry is how the initiatives that are seen as ‘flagship’ programs are trying to solve the boredom problem with entertainment and fun. However, by doing that they are generating a group of young Christians who are passive consumers of church and who are expect everything to fit to their needs.

The opposite of boring isn’t separate services.

Children need to be part of a wider worshiping community where they get to worship and share life with adults. They need to be surrounded by role models who can show them what faith looks like by their actions and to see what it means to be an adult Christian. They need to share in the rituals of this community and find their own sense of belonging to this wider group. Running an entirely separate program may hide children from the boring bits of church but it also teaches them that church is something that is boring and not for them.

The opposite of boring isn’t pace.

Bored children will misbehave and so one solution to this is to ensure that our programs rattle along without a gap for any potential problems to occur, problem solved. Well yes but; where is the space for a child to think, pray, reflect, find God in stillness or just take a break from the busyness of life?

About Sam Donoghue

Sam Donoghue is Head of Children and Youth for the Diocese of London, a keen cyclist and a supporter of Everton FC.

Read more from Sam Donoghue

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