Church is Boring

“Are you not entertained?”

Such a great scene from a great movie, Gladiator.

And the Gladiatorial games were made for just that, entertainment (in addition to other political and cultural motives).

Church on the other hand is not made for entertainment.

Church is boring.

Note that I didn’t say “my church is boring.” Church is boring in general.

A few weeks ago I made a bold claim in my post “Prayer is Boring“, claiming that very thing—prayer is boring.

This week I am taking it to the next level.

Church is boring.

Just like in my last post, I have no fear of incurring the wrath of God for such a statement, for I believe that at the heart of this statement is a God-glorifying message.

Since I have come to a saving-knowledge of The Lord Jesus Christ at the age of 15, I have spent time in a wide variety of churches. Soon after I was saved I was very attracted to the charismatic churches. I remember going to Lakewood (yes, that Lakewood) on Saturday nights hoping to hop on the wave of their enthusiasm. I remember going to Grace Community Church’s prayer conference and practicing moving my lips in all kinds of oblong ways before finally telling a friend, “I think I did it! I think I spoke in tongues!” I remember going to Metro Bible Study as a Senior in high school seeking out what was attracting thousands of college students each Monday evening to Houston’s First Baptist Church.

I have spent some time in Arminian churches and Calvinists churches and most of my time somewhere in between.

I have been parts of congregations that have sung hymns, cutting edge worship, and a mixture of both.

I have sat under topical preaching and expository preaching. I have been a member of churches of 80 members, 300 members, and 8,000 members.

There has been one thing in common for all these churches—they eventually get boring!

I believe that part of the problem has been that we have seen the evident boredom of churches as a problem.

Let me restate that: We have known that church is boring for a long time. The church has spent the past 40 years or so trying to fix this “problem”.
But what if the church has been trying to fix something that wasn’t broken? What if it really is not a problem that church is boring?

We live in a culture that is absolutely terrified of boredom.

Boredaphobia (“The fear of boredom”. I don’t know if that has ever been used before.) has infected every aspect of our society—parenting, entertainment, education and even the church.

Boredaphobia has caused parents to exhaust their children’s schedules. It has led to hyper-stimulating media. It has produced the state of modern spoon-fed educational philosophies. And it has led to “fun” and “relevant” churches with backdoors as frequented as their frontdoors.

Churches, both large and small, have become slick productions, executed with pinpoint precision.

And why?

All so you and your friends won’t get bored.

But what if we take a moment to step back and reflect on this “problem”.

Maybe it’s OK if your church is boring?
Maybe it’s OK if you have to work to focus during the preaching and during worship?
What if it actually was not a problem that church was boring?

Let’s take a look at a biblical passage:

Hebrews 10.24-25
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

It’s so easy for us to look at the book of Acts and come up with unrealistic ideals about the first century church. Boring church is not a new phenomenon. The author of Hebrews is already having to implore his readers to keep on meeting together. Why? I’m sure there are a number of factors. But at least we can say that some people did not think it was important enough to make it to church.

And consider this about the book of Hebrews. Most people think that it is actually a sermon. What would you do if you went to church and the pastor preached for as long as it takes to read the book of Hebrews? That seems to have been a normal experience for the early church.

Actually, what if your church isn’t boring enough?
What if it is actually a problem if your church isn’t boring?

Here are 4 reasons why your church needs to be more boring.

1. True authenticity.
Let’s face it. All that slick production is just that. It’s slick production. It’s a sales pitch. Now I’m not against preparation. I’m not against using persuasion. I’m not against spending money to make things better. But at some point all the production feels like a production, a concert (and a sub-par concert at that), which leads to my next point.

2. Your production is sub-par.
No matter how hard you try, you simply cannot keep up with Jay-Z, Beyonce, and JT. They spend millions of dollars on their productions to entertain their audiences for just a couple hours. They then repeat this same production night after night, city after city, audience after audience. You are trying to create something “fresh” every Sunday, week after week to the same congregation. You cannot keep up. Where this really becomes a problem is that eventually those who were won over by your slick productions will become bored with your slick productions. They’ve already seen this “concert” quite a few times. They want something “fresh” to meet their needs.

3. The Bible says nothing about the church being about your entertainment.
Church, The Bride, is about the glory and honor of the Groom, Christ. It simply does not matter if you are entertained. It’s not about you at all.

4. The Bible gives commands because it’s not easy.
Gathering with the local body of believers is about obedience to Christ. In a culture caught up in feelings and “following your heart”, the Bible shouts out loudly, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” (1 John 5.3a)

This brings us back to the point of my last post “Prayer is Boring“. It’s ok that church is boring. Going to church is an act of faith.

Sometimes when I get up on a Sunday morning, I don’t feel like going to church… But we go. Despite how we feel, we go.

Why?

Because we believe. We believe that obedience is better. We believe that God’s Word is true. We believe that there is joy in submitting to His authority.

So we go to church. And most of the time—not always—we are really glad we did.

Josh Josh (19 Posts)

Josh has been married to his lovely wife, Julie, since June 2006. They have 3 children: Deacon, Noelle, and Daisy. He received his undergraduate degree from Houston Baptist University in 2007. He has done graduate work at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and at HBU. He has been serving as Director of Operations at Classical School of Wichita (CSWSaints.com) since August 2014. He is interested in classical education, biblical worldview, and Christian theology.


8 Comments Church is Boring

  1. Tim Johnson

    Josh, I appreciate the desire to obey God over being entertained. There will be times when the study of Scripture, spending time in prayer, listening to someone talk… will feel more like a sacrifice. I would also say that obeying God can be more thrilling than anything the world can offer in a number of ways. One of those ways is deep and real friendship. Not the friendship that is fleshly – that’s too easy. But the friendship that sacrifices, forgives, prays, does life together, etc. How many people can actually say they have one friend in church that they truly do life together with, enjoying Christ together? Not many people can say that. Maybe that’s one reason why church is boring in a negative way. Though, as you said, many good things will feel like a sacrifice sometimes, even friendship. But overall, through the sacrifice, we find something far more thrilling than anything the world can offer – deep friendship with God and each other.

    Reply
    1. JoshJosh

      Thanks, Tim.

      I hoped through these “Boring” posts not to dissuade people from prayer, the church, etc. but to encourage. I think you are right- often times, we don’t see the greatest benefits in the spiritual disciplines until later down the road. Unfortunately, we often give up on prayer, on Bible study, and on the church before we see these deeply satisfying benefits that The Lord has so graciously appended to the disciplines for our encouragement!

      Blessings, brother!

      Reply
  2. Shelly Cheng

    Loved this read and there is some great insight. Thank you for believing, searching and sharing 😉 Great reminder of why I do what I do, who I do it for, and how to keep doing it in a way that speaks the truth while allowing me peace in knowing all of that 😉

    Reply
  3. Kate Johnson

    Great post. And I agree. Every time I see a new prop I think, boy, that money could have fed a family this week… or a new hi-tech flashy PowerPoint program and think how many women I could have reached with that money. Sad that we have become a schizophrenic (and I’m a therapist so I can use that word) and ADD society. God brings peace, not show.

    Reply
    1. JoshJosh

      Thanks, Kate.

      It’s definitely a fine line. I recognize that money must be spent on all kinds of things. I am ok with using money for many things, aesthetic and otherwise. But at some point the money is no longer being used as an extension of worship in good stewardship, but is instead being used to replace the Holy Spirit. It’s difficult to say when that is, and I think most of us are probably guilty of crossing that line at some point.

      God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, so we know he certainly won’t run out of money. In some sense it is a matter of worship vs. idolatry, rather than what God is able to do. Praise The Lord, He often (almost always) works in spite of our distractions!

      Reply
  4. Carlos

    Great article Josh. I have had similar experiences going to different churches to understand why so many Christians find the Roman Catholic church boring. Agree that most churches provide too much entertainment and not enough focus on Christ. The focus is often on the one on the pulpit and not on Him. The Catholic church is the most boring of all churches yet the best one to follow Christ teachings. It is the only church started by Christ with Peter. That is the precise reason why it still remains the most influential church for over 2,000 years. Yes, it can at first be boring to focus on Christ instead on ourselves. Blesssings.

    Reply
    1. JoshJosh

      Thanks, Carlos.

      As a committed Reformed Protestant, I would differ on some of your perspectives on the Catholic Church, though I certainly would gladly receive Catholics (and any denomination) as brothers and sisters who look to Christ alone as their hope and salvaiton.

      I do think that the Evangelical Church can learn a lot from the Catholic Church. I have done some thinking about the point that you bring up, and I find it very interesting that the Catholic Church, which is missing much of the fanfare and entertainment, is so popular. There has been a significant number of Evangelicals who have left for the Catholic Church. One of the most fascinating things about the Catholic Church is its ethnic and generational diversity.

      I think there are various reasons for this, but I think you point out one of the most significant reasons- the Catholic Church has changed relatively little over the past 2,000 years. When it does change it is slow to change. Often times Evangelicals focus so much on progress and relevance that that progress towards irrelevance!

      I know I have rambled a bit here. I do want to collect my thoughts on this at some point and write about what the Evangelical Church can learn from the Catholic Church.

      Thanks, Carlos!

      Blessings in Christ!

      Reply

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