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I don't usually face what many of you confront in the pews every week: the boredom factor. But a recent experience gave me a new reason to empathize.

My pastor had asked me to do the children's sermon. I told the several dozen primaries sitting on the steps near the pulpit a dramatic story, and they were suitably entranced. Then I moved in with the application, and instantly, like a shade drawn, they all blanked out. My mouth kept making words flow at them, but the words washed over these lovely children like waves over rocks. Dozens of glazed eyes riveted attention somewhere on the floor or ceiling.

How could I have lost them so quickly?

I decided the problem was "God-words": abstract statements enmeshed with Bible verses. Just five seconds of God-words seems to click a magic button in many kids' minds, instantly switching the channel to woolgathering. I have a theory that this button is somehow implanted early in all environmental Christians, and that with advancing years, it takes less ...

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