“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.
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:
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.
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.