When Church is Boring: 3 Problems and 2 Solutions
When Church is Boring: 3 Problems and 2 Solutions
There no getting around the fact. Church can be boring. Why is this? It cannot be because God is boring. There is nothing boring in God. He is the fountainhead of every pleasure. He is the ultimate story-maker who amazes us with the unexpected all the time. Every good thing comes down from the Father of lights.
So where does “boring” come from? It comes from us. Sin is always the problem, and we are sinners. But how does sin cause church boredom?
Problem #1 – Not obeying Great Commission Evangelism and Discipleship
Jesus told us what we are to be doing in His Great Commission. It should be no mystery then that partaking in those two activities would be where the energizing power of the Spirit is at work. But if people are just coming to church and staring at the back of heads, or hearing the latest prayer request for Uncle Ebert’s bunions, they should prepare for a tsunami of lethargy. If the mundane and the mediocre is the defining nature of church, there is a massive sinkhole of disobedience that has swallowed those people. Those that neglect this calling will find there is no good replacement. Gathering together in simple settings is not the problem that causes church to be boring, disobedient people are the problem! Industrial strength repentance is needed in such churches.
Solution #1 – Sharing the gospel and discipling
If you join in with what the Spirit is doing, you can expect to see the Spirit at work. What is the Spirit doing? John 16:14 “He will glorify Me…” The Spirit is busy exalting the person, work, and word of Christ. How are we to join into that? We join into that when we go into all the nations and make disciples through the message of the person, work and word of Christ. Let me tell you, when you start sharing the gospel with people, the adrenaline starts flowing. You have a mission from the eternal God and it will, it must, set you on fire. There is a real spiritual battle being waged and you are on the front line when you share the gospel. You are in hand-to-hand combat with the devils for the souls of men. And when this is happening, guess what you will doing when the saints gather together? You won’t being praying just for Uncle Ebert’s bunions; you will be praying for his soul first. And you will be praying for the souls of the people you’re talking to. People will recognize that there are weighty issues on the line with your life and your praying. And you will be listening intently in the teaching times about how to share this message more clearly, or how to live in the glory of this message more faithfully.
But it won’t only be about evangelism. Discipleship is also a part of the great commission. You will join into the work of the Spirit when you are seeking to exalt the person, work, and word of Christ in the lives of God’s people. As you give your life to see someone grow in conviction, character, and competence, you will be riding the roller coaster of life-on-life service. You will be engaging with real issues, saving real people from real harm, and spurring them on in real joy as you meet with them in discipleship contexts: a one-on-one meeting or a more formal setting. And you might be on the receiving end of discipleship. Either way, it is real and it is where the Spirit will be working. Your life will be a true drama in God’s story line of redemption. This will drive your prayer times at church. It will also make you listen intently during the teaching times so that you can have something more to share with others.
If you are doing these things, you will know the power and presence of the Spirit. And if the whole church is doing these things, well, watch out.
Problem #2 – Church is made boring by disobedient leaders
It is a sad reality that worldly shepherds can paint the truth with dull colors or smother the truth with institutional blankets. Preaching can be made into an academic exercise to give you a few nuggets of new information. Praying can be the obligatory thing you do to start and end a service. Singing is what happens because… well… we have always done it. Shepherds can shepherd really poorly. This happens and it is sin. It is sin to make the Bible boring. The Bible is living and active, so if it is boring it is because somebody sucked all the life out of it. Maybe it is worldliness or maybe it is laziness, but whatever the case, they see nothing glorious and are compelled by nothing glorious. This is akin to taking the Lord’s name in vain. No, they are not speaking untrue things about the Lord. But they are communicating that there is nothing compelling about the Lord, and nothing glorious about the gospel.
Problem #3 – Church is propped up by distracted leaders
There is unfortunately a reaction to the boring churches as seen above. Some churches will use every means at their disposal to make church exciting. And there happens to be a whole industry dedicated to excitement called the entertainment industry. The entertainment industry includes everything from the concert hall to the theater hall; the circus ring to the wrestling ring. All of it, and I do mean all if it, has been brought into the church. Movies, food, skits, stunts, pranks, give-a-ways, and smoke and lights are commonplace in many churches now. Why? For the same reason other churches are boring; they don’t see anything glorious in the Word of the gospel. If you have to bring in all this stuff, that is a commentary on what you think of your message: the message won’t be sufficient, so we have to prop it up. Because the church’s niche is the spiritual, the spiritual theme is retained, but the same underlying problem still remains. These churches also communicate that there is nothing compelling about the Lord, and nothing glorious about the gospel. The power is in the props. Ultimately, this does this does not solve the problem of boring church. People will eventually grow tired of the fluff and then they have an even worse problem of being disillusioned with the church.
Solution #2 & #3 – Faithful Confidence in the Gospel’s Power
To the dismay of the lifeless church and the embarrassment of the entertainment church, there is a compelling, soul-gripping power to be found. The gospel is the power of God, and it is communicated powerfully in the living and active word. If the gospel and the piercing sword of the Word is spoken by God’s people as they go into the world and as they gather together, the Spirit will be at work. You can step back and watch him work and you won’t have to prop him up. Yes, there will always be a dulling effect of disobedient people seeking to dominate the gathering of the saints. This is why the call for faithfulness in the leaders and the people is so important. Disobedient boredom will be called out, not succumbed to. When this happens and the great commission is playing itself out in most of the lives of the people of the church, there will be much to sing about, much to pray about, and much to be amazed about.
Side Note: The above discussion is about the general life of the church. This does not apply to the moment-by-moment life of the individual. Day to day life is filled with waiting and the mundane. The mundane moments are good and right and can be filled with the joy of life in the Spirit. We must fight against the siren call of technology to fill every moment with something. You need quiet, seemingly “boring” hours because you need time to let your mind think, time for the Spirit to roll the Scripture around in your mind and into the issues of your life. If you always have music playing, a podcast rolling, or a Netflix program bingeing you aren’t giving time for your mind to work. Kids need to be “bored.” We all need to be “bored.” Some of the most important thoughts and creative solutions you will ever have will come from times when you were allowed to think without distraction.