Church Is Not Boring…
Let’s just get this out of the way right now – every church is boring! And every church gets boring around the same point in the service . . . the sermon! Short of Stephen Colbert entering the ministry – every preacher has bored someone sometime. Even Billy Graham has bored a few Christians in his day.
For the last month, I keep having this visceral reaction to the billboard on Mt. Vernon Ave. for a new church. “Church Is Not Boring – Experience Something New.” First, it concerns me because the intent of the billboard seems to be trying to get Christians to leave the churches that they are already a part of to join this “new” thing. Second, it bothers me because it suggests that church is an event – like a concert – and that we have a right to expect to be enthused, amused, entertained, excited, etc.
When did boredom become the great sin of the church?!!
There is this great story in the Book of Acts (chapter 20). Paul is preaching (and preaching…) and the story goes on to mention that a boy named Eutychus was sitting in the window of an upstairs room. The text says that he “began to sink off into a deep sleep while Paul still talked longer” – only to fall out of the window, fall 3 stories, and then be healed by Paul.
Paul literally bored a kid to death!
Boredom isn’t the problem of our churches today. And shallow enthusiasm is not the solution. Do we really want to create an Amusement Park Christianity – where everything has to be bigger, faster, louder?!! Even Cedar Point has to keep outdoing itself – their many roller coasters prove that they can’t survive providing people the “same old” experiences. They can never rest – they always have to pay attention to what their competitors are building and to the fact that they have to keep providing people a reason to return. They can never be satisfied doing what they are doing.
I am not Paul – so I know I have bored more than a few people in my day! I try not to – but in the end it’s not all up to me. When we come to church, we bring a lot of stuff with us. We bring the busyness of our lives into the pews – the fights, the regrets, the shame, the guilt, the worries, the fears, the distractions (good and bad), the noon tee times, the Sunday brunches, the pre-game anticipations, the joys, the loves, etc… These things leak into “church time” – and on a good day we are able to set them aside just long enough to “get” something out of worship.
But it doesn’t matter! At the end of the day, church is not a worship experience, it is not boredom or excitement – when will we learn that church, that worship, is NOT ABOUT US?!!
First, understand that the church is not a place and it is not about what we do. Church, the Body of Christ, is the heart of God’s relationship with all humanity. In and through the church, God is re-creating what was fallen. The Church is where we re-learn how to properly love God and love one another. If all we do in church is sing songs, pray prayers, listen to sermons – then we have failed to be the Body of Christ. If we do not learn how to love, how to forgive, how to be patient and kind, how to be peacemakers, how to care for the least of these, then we have failed to be the Body of Christ.
Second, the utterly awesome (and humbling) truth about church is that it is the one time in our busy weeks and lives where we remember that this time is not OUR time, this worship is not OUR worship, this hour is not OUR hour. Every Sunday morning we have a choice – we either come to church as a consumer (what do I get out of church) or as a disciple (what does God get out of me). A consumer has the right to complain, to look elsewhere, to shop around for the best deal. A disciple surrenders!
Imagine what EVERY church in Marion, in Ohio, in the US, in the world would be like if we all came to church ready to surrender for one hour! For one hour we set aside OUR lives – and we worship. WE WORSHIP GOD! We make it our intent to come together, knowing that I would rather be bored for one hour with my brothers and sisters in Christ to give God the praise then have box seats at the Super Bowl.
When the music is fantastic . . . praise God!
When the music is horrible . . . praise God!
When the worship leaders are easy to hear . . . praise God!
When the worship leaders are too quiet or too loud . . . praise God!
When I preach for ten minutes . . . well definitely . . . praise God!
When I preach for thirty minutes . . . (please!!!) . . . praise God!
You see, when the focus of our worship is not on us – when it is on the God who has redeemed us in Jesus Christ – then it does not matter how boring or exciting “church” is. It’s not about us – in fact, salvation is never about us! It is about God in Christ! It is about while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It is about “in the beginning was the Word.” From Genesis to Revelation, from Alpha to Omega, the story of the Bible is about this great God of ours who chooses to never be without us. He is our God and we are his (whether we like it or not!) – he can do with us as he pleases, and it pleases him to save us.
Church can be boring. Work and school can be boring. Life can be boring.
God, the God of the burning bush and the whirlwind, is never boring!
It’s not about us.