Church is Boring!

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Recently, I was listening to the Radio talk show host interviewing a person who had just written a book about spirituality.  The premise of the book was that the church was declining in membership but that individuals were still into “spirituality”.  She said that the church was boring.  The pastor of the church I attended Sunday also made mention of the declining membership of churches and stated that she had attended a meeting of pastors from various mainline denominations that were discussing the topic and what would change the trend.  Most of what they discussed had to do with appeal to the “senses”.  She suggested (jokingly), “Maybe if we serve Starbuck’s Coffee after the service, more people would attend?”

As a society we do seek entertainment.  How we choose to do things has more to do with our sense of smell, taste, sight, hearing and emotions than it does with reason and seeking the truth.  We collect news through popular magazines such as “People” and “Us” rather than “Time” and “Newsweek”.  Why?  The contrast is between the written words explaining the news compared to pictures that appeal to our eyesight.

Church is boring.  I agree.   There are times when I sat in church and my mind was wandering through past events or planning the week that is yet to occur.  But should church be entertaining?  Is church more than pleasing the senses?  Is church just about me or is it about community?  Is the church about “what’s in it for me” or is it about “what I can do in a community to build up that community into a better place”?

The church has confessed for hundreds of years, “I believe in the communion of saints”.  The Heidelberg Catechism explains the meaning of that confession as follows:  “First, that believers, one and all, as members of this community, share in Christ and in all of his treasures and gifts.  Second, that each member should consider it his duty to use his gifts readily and cheerfully for the service and enrichment of the other members”.

The challenge for leaders in the church is not only to preach the gospel in word and deed, but also to teach what the consequences of believing that gospel are. Believing the gospel should result in the communion of saints.  I believe we are more concerned about entertaining those who attend our churches than about the building up the communion of saints which  (as demonstrated by the letters of Paul to the New Testament Churches) takes more than feeding the emotions but means the discipline to exercise that communion by doing the fulfilling work God gives us to do. 

How much time does your council spend on building up the “communion of the saints”? 

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Al, when you are talking about church, are you referring to Sunday worship or everything else that we think about such as the ministries that take place throughout the week? i think that's an important distinction.

Steve

Community Builder

I don't think that churches should be boring. That doesn't mean they need to be entertaining in the pop culture sense of the word, but the congregation should be engaged. I'm not sure how to describe it, but sometimes when I attend a church as a guest it has the feel of being incredibly stifling. This has happened to me in both traditional and contemporary churches. The difference is in traditional churches it makes me feel like everyone is just punching in their time in the pew, whereas in contemporary churches it feels like I might just as well have stayed home and watched it on TV.

I currently attend a church plant so we do drink coffee during the service. It's definitely not boring. But neither is it boring when I visit a traditional church - the singing is often very beautiful and the people friendly. 

So, I guess the question boils down to, if one thinks their church is boring, it is important to identify what is boring about it. 

Just for fun, let's look at it from a different angle.

Theologically, boredom is often the manifestation of the deadly sin of sloth.

Good book on this "Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment: Recovering Passion and Wonder" by Richard Winter.

Maybe I did not make it very "clear" but my point is that the church is more than worship - it is about "communion of the saints".  It is about serving as well as being served.  It is about interaction.  I think the person who critiqued the church as boring in her book only looked at worship because as a former attendee of a church see was part of a mega church here in Scottsdale, AZ which I am familiar with and she only attended worship services with no emphasis on the interaction of "communion of the saints".  Church was boring because she lacked participation in the church.  Having been a past president of a Chamber of Commerce, I encountered people with the same complaint about the Chamber but much had to do with it being their fault for lack of interaction and serving.

Maybe it's also about bringing our cultural freight into the process without asking whether the "communion of the saints" requires a counter cultural stance, i.e. being in the world, but not of the world. Are we molding the church to conform to the cultural values of the world we live in?