“Church is SO BORING.”

by K.W. Leslie, 14 August

So it’s summer vacation, your kid wanders into the room, and complains, “I’m bored.”

And if you’re anything like my parents, you’d throw up your hands in frustration: “Whatd’you mean, you’re bored? You got a room full of toys! A computer full of video games! A shelf full of books! How can you be bored?… You’re so spoiled rotten.”

Okay, maybe you’re not middle class and can’t afford to give your kids any that stuff. Or maybe you’re like my dad and responds, “Bored, eh? Well I have some projects you could work on…” by which he meant chores, none of which were fun. But both kids and adults in our culture, on every economic level, have no shortage of options. “Spoiled rotten” is right. Boredom just means we don’t care about any of these options; at the moment we don’t care about, or can’t relate to, any of ’em. A “bored” kid with a roomful of toys simply isn’t interested in any of them right now. (Quick ’n dirty way to change that: Offer to get rid of any of them.)

And sometimes we Christians are the very same way with our churches.

  • The songs? Heard ’em a thousand times. And I’m not just talking about how the worship pastor loves to repeat them: They’re on the radio; they come up all the time on Spotify; we own the CDs; we grew annoyed with ’em months ago.
  • The sermons? Heard those lessons a thousand times. Heard ’em in children’s church when we grew up. Heard ’em again in youth groups, young-adult classes, on church TV shows and from radio preachers; in Sunday sermon after Wednesday night sermon after Saturday night sermon.
  • The people? Same old people. There’s nothing new in their lives… or at least nothing new we care about. They only talk small talk, or they only complain, or they won’t stop bragging about their kids, or they only bring up sports and weather. Or worse—the opposite of your politics.

Eventually we Christians all reach a saturation point with our churches: We’ve heard it all. Seen it all. Done it all. And we’re bored.

So we don’t wanna go.

Being in a boring church.

I’ve moved around a lot in my life. Military brat, then I went to school a few different places, then I went to work in a few different towns. And when I move I go church shopping, as you do. And as I’m browsing churches, there are always boring churches among them. Boring ’cause…

  • The music was stuck in the 1990s or ’00s. (Or worse, the ’70s and ’80s.)
  • The worship was done with little or faked enthusiasm.
  • The sermons were obviously based on somebody else’s sermon outlines, and preached without personal experience or conviction.
  • The rituals felt more like clichés.
  • The people weren’t all that pleased to greet visitors, and the only people who made an effort to greet me were in leadership.

To be fair, I nitpick. As do most people who are church shopping! We’re looking for reasons to stay… or, for some of us, go anywhere else. We’re looking for flaws, then asking ourselves, “Can I live with that?”

Sometimes it takes a few weeks to find the cockroaches in the Frappuccino. I attended a church for two months because I liked the preaching and the music. But the people—and the people are the church, y’know—were impossible to get to know. They had no room in their cliques for new people. Much as I liked the Sunday morning service, the church isn’t the Sunday morning services. Standoffish people? That’s a dealbreaker.

But a boring Sunday service is also a dealbreaker. ’Cause the Sunday service is where we worship God collectively. And if we don’t enjoy the way our church worships God, let me tell you a little-recognized fact: God is not a sadist. He wants us to enjoy worship. He’s not pleased when we “put up with this boring stuff” for his sake. Yeah, putting up with the occasional boring song or sermon is one thing—but every single week? That’s gonna suck all the enthusiasm out of our worship, and make it cold and dead, and that’s the last thing God wants. That’s how hypocrites are made. No: God wants us alive, and wants our worship to be living and active.

If you don’t find the service intriguing—even when everyone around you loves it, and doesn’t understand what’s wrong with you—you need go worship elsewhere. You need to figure out which form of worship service clicks with you: Maybe fewer rituals, maybe way more. Maybe more music, maybe less. Maybe challenging sermons which push you to grow further, or less challenging sermons because you feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water.

’Cause much was we try to be all things to all people, churches aren’t one-size-fits-all. We simply can’t be. And that’s okay. It’s why Jesus has multiple churches. So don’t stress out; go visit a different one.

“No you’re the problem.”

You might not find the service intriguing, yet everyone around you loves it. And the very idea you’re bored would stun them: “How can you possibly be bored with our church? It’s awesome! The preacher’s awesome! The music’s awesome! The small groups are awesome! The kids’ program is awesome! The espresso bar is so awesome!…” And so on. You’re dying inside, but they’re too excited to see it.

Since they don’t share your experience, and everybody else seems so happy with the church as-is, often people are gonna leap to this conclusion: Only you have the problem, ergo you’re the problem. You need to get saved or something.

And in fact that’s a pretty common diagnosis and treatment: You’re not happy with church, so you must need a new God-experience. One which’ll shake the cobwebs out of you, and make you excited about church again.

Here’s the thing: If you visit another church, and you’re excited about that church, clearly revival ain’t the issue. It’s like a teenager who tries on a new pair of shoes, and discovers that’s the shoe size she oughta be wearing; till now she’s been wearing the wrong size, and always wondered why so many shoes were uncomfortable. Kids grow, y’know. And you might’ve forgotten Christians grow—or at least we’re supposed to—and sometimes we legitimately outgrow our churches.

And sometimes we don’t. I’ve known church-hoppers who grow bored of their churches every year or so. If you’ve joined a dozen churches in five years, revival is the issue. You’re trying to feel a rush from the newness of an unfamiliar church. Which of course doesn’t last, and even in the most church-filled town you’re gonna eventually run out of places to go. If this describes you, stop church-hopping. Start seeking God. See where he wants you to stay put.

“I have some projects…”

Yep, my dad’s solution to my boredom was always to rope me into chores. I quickly learned to never go to him to complain about boredom.

But y’know, God’s projects aren’t chores. They’re what me created us to do, and part of the reason Christians get bored is because we’re not doing what we were created to do. We’re meant to contribute to our churches, but a lot of Christians figure only leaders need to contribute; they need to “get fed”… and they’re not getting fed anymore, so they figure it’s time to switch churches.

“I’m not getting fed there anymore” is a common reason Christians give for switching churches. When they first attended, there was so much new stuff to learn!… and now there’s not. They learned it all. The pastor used up all the sermon outlines and illustrations in his library, and is starting to rerun the old ones from 20 years ago. The Christian classes have repeated the five-year cycle of topics way too many times for your taste. The well is dry. Time to move on.

This is why I tell Christians all the time: If you’re not getting fed, it’s because it’s your turn to do the feeding.

I was a Christian for 22 years before I finally realized this. (I know, right? Super dense of me.) I hadn’t “been fed” by my church for years; I knew all this stuff already. I got fed by my own personal bible studies and meditation, but not church; nobody had said anything insightful which I’d never heard before for the longest time. And I’ve since found every Christian hits this wall at some point in our lives. Everyone. No exceptions. Because we’re meant to. God wants everybody to reach the point where he teaches us himself, personally. Not our churches; our churches focus on kids and newbies, and rightly so.

Once we hit the wall, we gotta step up. You’ve heard it all? Good. Now teach the Christian classes. And very quickly you’ll discover you haven’t heard it all.

  • You gotta study the lessons so you understand the topics, and you’ll find you gotta study them in far greater detail than you had before—and you’ll learn new stuff.
  • You’ll get questions from curious students. Sometimes really hard questions. Researching the answers will teach you new stuff.
  • You’ll find—no foolin’—sometimes the lesson-book is wrong. So you have to correct it. And sometimes that’ll be controversial, and that’ll definitely teach you new stuff. (Particularly about how patient your church and its leaders really are.)

But if your church doesn’t mentally challenge you anymore, it may mean it’s time to get into leadership. Now there’s a challenge.

There are all kinds of ways to lead, or serve, in your church. Start looking at that. But whatever you do, don’t go through the motions. Don’t put up with soul-crushing ennui just because the rest of your family loves your church, or because you’re afraid of making new friends in a new church. Don’t dodge the call to leadership because you’re hesitant to take on new responsibility. Act.