Bored Stiff

Just admit it. Some weekends you’d rather see the back of your eyelids than the back of the church bulletin. Sometimes reading through that thick, leather-bound Bible is about as fun as reading through a stack of legal documents. We know we should do it, but . . . dang it, sometimes Christianity is just boring!

It’s no wonder so many churches replaced their steeples and stained glass with stages, lights, rock bands and big screens. Hey, we already have our tickets to heaven so at least give us a few good stories, a funny skit and a couple fun songs for our tithe money. Or maybe we’ll go to the church down the street with that new singles program. Some of us need a date.

Why does it take a crisis to get us on our knees, or a strong dose of guilt to get us to dust off our Bibles? I have a few theories, but generally I think we’re bored because we keep getting the same handful of messages over and over, year after year after year. Same message, different packaging. When it comes to the issues beyond the basics, we leave those to theologians and missionaries and people that like to argue on Facebook. For us, the simple gospel message is plenty.

But is it?

What if the U.S. Army was all about recruitment and enrollment with a strong emphasis on the quality of its benefits? Yeah, sometimes they would mention things like basic training, conditioning, unity, chain of command, or, you know, the war, but overall, each meeting would emphasize enrollment and the great benefits. There is little point in reading any of the documentation. If you’re in, you’re in. That’s the main thing. Oh, and Uncle Sam loves you with all his heart.

I believe that the Church is bored because it has lost its vision. Or at least minimized its vision with an emphasis on introspection and individualism. I suggest two ways to motivate our congregations to a fresh curiosity and passion:

  1. We need to understand what we are saved from

If salvation is all about heaven and hell, the world has become a giant waiting room. Boring. If our salvation is about being delivered from a kingdom of darkness and all of its dysfunction (ignorance, selfishness, manipulation, abuse, etc.) then we have plenty to keep us engaged day after day.

  1. We need to understand what we are saved for 

What is God’s ideal for humanity? What are we supposed to look like individually? What are we supposed to look like as a unit? What is God doing in the world, and how can we get involved?

These are a couple of my suggestions, but what do you think? Why are we so darn bored? A lack of discipline? Distractions? Our pastors? Our selfish, media-crazed culture? Or do you disagree with my premise to begin with?

18 thoughts on “Bored Stiff

  1. I’m NOT bored. YOU’RE boring. (she said in complete sarcasm)

    Truthfully though… I’m not bored. My life has been nothing but a scary roller coaster for the last few years and though it’s been painful and uncomfortable, it’s made me desperate… desperate for HIM, his guidance, his provision, etc.

    I wouldn’t wish my heartache on my worst enemy but I’ve come to learn God doesn’t waste pain. My desperation has made me hungry for the eternal, hungry for understanding his word, and put me in a place of growth where I’m fully aware of my dependence on him.

    I guess if we pray NOT to be bored… be prepared? He just might make us desperate.
    (It’s actually an amazing place to be.)

    2 Cor. 4:17-18
    For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

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    • Monique!! If I had to make a list of all the people that this post would NOT apply to, you’d be in the top three, if not the very top. Monique and boredom do not go together.

      You make a terrific point. Though we crave security and love in this world, it is sometimes the very lack of these things that drives us to reach for the only security and love that lasts. Ultimately the very things we pray to avoid can drive us to shake off our apathy and wake to deeper, lasting realities. True blessings.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. C.S. Lewis said (something like), “Whoever thinks holiness is boring doesn’t understand it.” What God has called us to (beside life after death) is awesome, powerful, scary, and gutsy.
    I especially appreciate the military metaphor, because that is the metaphor that is meant to characterize my denomination – The Salvation Army; not just outwardly but inwardly as well.
    Keep it coming, Barnts!

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  3. I suspect there are as many reasons as there are believers, but one thing that affects us all, the lowest common denominator, if you will, in the West is our individualistic worldview. When you are constantly focusing on your own “journey” with questions like “What is my calling? What is my purpose?” etc. then that can get boring because you aren’t enough. Those questions have a place, but only as a launching pad to the greater work of the kingdom. Believers in other cultures spend less time contemplating those types of questions and more time doing the work of the kingdom: less boredom. Second thought: yes, I love and work in social media daily, but I do think it has negatively impacted our ability for sustained thought and retrospection that requires more than 140 characters to convey meaning. There is much in contemplate in God’s word and world, but it requires time and meditation.

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    • One of these posts will be about the interesting contrast I found while attending church in the UK (’98) and working in US churches. We don’t often realize how our culture creates a religious syncretism that can affect the way we think of God and ourselves. We have a self-oriented culture; is it any wonder that we have a self-oriented church? But we have to be careful to keep an objective and humble stance toward Truth and continue to pursue it (Him) with others. Thanks for doing that on here.

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  4. I think some of it has to do with our culture now. Unless you are entertaining folks to a high level, they are bored. When I was a little girl, I didn’t know what boredom was because there was always something to do. If I said I was bored, Mom or Dad would find something for me to do and it sure wasn’t entertaining!

    So, to sit still and feel the Spirit of God is boring to a lot of people because they have lost the ability to sit and meditate or pray.

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  5. I think boredom in the church, and boredom in our experience with God are two very separate issues, though they probably shouldn’t be. I struggle with this issue and have to admit I often find 21st century “liturgy”, or lack thereof, boring.

    I remember from the music that we studied at APU and the centuries of history, the church was for many years at the forefront of music, art, literature, etc. I’m speaking from my (limited) artistic point of view… and not that we are supposed to be of the world. Of course those composers and artists were not all Christ-followers, but the church still commissioned and led the culture in this area. Today, we are lack-luster, poorly funded, overly tambourined copycats, and for the sake of Christian art, err… Sunday morning entertainment…. well, I’ll leave out what I truly think (If you can’t say anything nice…).

    At the same time, I think God can be experienced in the spectacular settings of His creation, or true Christian fellowship and a rousing game of Scrabble with the Barnts clan. In these, I have never been and never will be bored.

    Where I know I am extremely guilty is in my willingness to extend myself beyond my level of comfort, and this at my own church. There are plenty of opportunities to go out and experience God beyond our borders. I think this is the heart of the alive church and I would guess there is not much boredom there either.

    As far as what happens Sunday morning… we’re relevant… we’re contemporary… let’s be contemporavent!!!

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    • You make a great point. I also feel a different relationship with God than I do with the Church. I LOVE the Church, and believe in its mission, but I am more than dissatisfied with church culture, and would probably be okay never stepping into a sanctuary again. I love the community of faith, being with other believers, sharing my reality with people outside the Church, and studying what it means to be a part of the spiritual Body of the risen Christ. But church culture itself . . . I must admit, I often feel the same sentiment that you just expressed.

      Liked by 1 person

    • There is some amazing music coming from groups like “Jars of Clay” and “Newsboys”. And a John Barnts piano accompaniment with Laurie singing the traditional solo “church music” can be very inspiring. “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 149). Just don’t expect any minister to hit one out of the park on every Sunday.

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  6. Church and Christianity in general become boring (not to mention ineffective) to me when they become about me. We should be all about HIM, the One who started this all. HE is never boring, and neither is the work He is doing on earth.

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  7. Howard Hendricks said that when people told him the Bible was boring, he felt it was a greater commentary on the person than on the Book. Jesus is not boring. When we take the time and energy to develop our relationship with Him personally. ..not relying on a church service to grow our relationship with Him, our Christian faith will not be boring.
    I myself must keep in mind that Jesus wants me to depend on Him, to follow Him, to look to Him in everything. Sometimes boring tasks need to be done in extraordinary ways…In Christ Jesus.

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  8. From the pulpit, I’m sure we can look bored, John. I am often tired on Sunday morning, and have dozed off during a sermon from time to time. That puts up a negative appearance at a brief moment in the week when a pastor is likely to be watching me, but hopefully won’t be taken as the sum of how spiritually alive and connected a person is. I remind myself that the Bible says little of the mundane details of Moses’ life for those long stretches in between the brief action scenes, and I imagine there were plenty of boring moments herding sheep in Midian for forty years without fresh orders from God. I do agree with Jennyklein that we should look outside of ourselves if we find we are bored. We should not come to church to be entertained, but many today have that expectation, and many churches are enticed to become entertainment, as it is such an effective draw (as is the on-campus coffee!). That’s fine for me, as long as the message is never diluted.

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  9. what’s with you and all your friends using SO MANY WORDS!!!!…. I’d love to read through these comments to make sure I don’t duplicate but…I can’t because my mind is bored just looking at all the text! ha ha JK (Not really)

    You fail to mention that society is all about entertainment. Look at a waiting room and see how many hand held devices are being utilized by people of all ages. So the church, sensing that they are losing their audience – tries to tap dance their way into peoples attentions.

    I was part of the problem myself. It was getting to the point where on special event days, we couldn’t get any volunteers to work in the nursery during the worship but everyone was more than happy to leave and “serve” once the sermon started. Sad but true story…hence the reason why I stepped away from worship leading. I was enabling this consumer mindset in my own congregation!!!!

    Like Monique, I wouldn’t wish my grief on any person but the season in the fire was the most refining season of my life. And while I am “church-grown” I hope everyone learns to hold fiercely to the faithful hand of God because they heard something once at a church somewhere….

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