By Kenneth Justice
~ “Church is so damn boring…”
I could say that is what someone told me at coffee recently but that’s not the entire story; it’s actually what more than a couple dozen people have told me at coffee in the past few weeks.
With the holidays in full swing all across the Western World a number of my café acquaintances have been bringing the subject of going-to-church up because it’s that time of year when people tend to increase their church attendance; and I keep hearing people tell me how boring they think their churches are.
For a variety of reasons I used to get asked to speak at various churches on a regular basis and to be quite honest, I empathize with those who find church services to be boring; having attended more than a few hundred different types of churches I have found myself counting the tiles on the ceiling at times in order to stay awake but I’ve also seen some of the craziest s**t imaginable on Sunday morning that I often would feel like I was at a circus.
—-) I once saw a preacher leap out of the pulpit and rush out the door to go dancing in the parking lot; the entire congregation scrambled out the door to join him (while I sat awkwardly in the pew all by myself)
—-) I saw a woman collapse in the choir and have to be taken out by the paramedics…but the preacher having said a simple 30 second prayer for her… then went on with the sermon without missing a beat
—-) I’ve seen people erupt in laughter during the minister’s homily and the laughter grew so loud the minister had to quit preaching
—-) I’ve seen a minister hit a kid on the head with all his might in order to perform an exorcism on the kid because the preacher believed the kid had a demon of ‘pornography’…..hmmmm somehow I don’t remember reading about that demon in the bible
If you’re familiar with my writing you know that I’m really laid back about religious matters; it’s not my prerogative to convince people they need to ‘believe what I believe’. I’m really open to discussing anything and everything and the more complex or varied someone’s beliefs are the more interesting I tend to find the discussion.
However, when it comes to the subject of church being boring; it seems as though this is a universal issue that many religious people struggle with and grapple. Why is going-to-mass (or worship) so damn boring for so many people?
There are a lot of things in life that we can easily find boring such as going to work; but we rarely think of work being boring on payday. I mean, if you tell me you’re going to write me a check or give me cash I can pretty much sit through the dullest meeting ever and not even notice the time; incentives tend to eliminate boredom.
And perhaps therein lies the problem with church; maybe the issue is that the church seems so irrelevant to our everyday lives;
—) If you’re a single mom and are overwhelmed with your day-to-day responsibilities of work and child rearing, then going to mass on Sunday is merely another hurdle of getting the kids dressed and fed on time
—) If you’re a couple who is barely making it financially and are living paycheck to paycheck…then going to worship service on Sunday morning is merely another time you have to fill your car up with gasoline that you don’t really have the money to pay
—) If you’re struggling with some kind of personal issue and feel disconnected to the people at your church, than making it to the service on Sunday is merely another time when you feel lonely surrounded by a bunch of smiling faces
Recently I received a bunch of emails from an atheist who was attacking the hypocrisy in modern day Christianity…..I couldn’t really refute his argument because the sad fact of the matter is that there really is a lot of hypocrisy surrounding my religion. Christianity in the modern era has become much more focused on services and meetings and far less focused on truly reaching people and meeting the needs of those who are hurting.
Ever since I began writing this blog I haven’t gone a week without getting comments or emails from fellow Christians who have argued with me saying, ‘all that matters is preaching to people’…..to which I consistently respond; “no, all that matters is loving people and meeting them wherever they are at in life”.
Last month a really nice Christian from the U.S. emailed me a number of times but disagreed with me at each turn because for her; ‘real Christianity is all about focusing on what people believe’ …but for me; ‘real Christianity is all about how I can serve others’.
You see, I grew up in a Christian culture that focused entirely on the moral elements of religion; the Christians in my life made god out to be some dude who was obsessed with whether or not I lit up a cigarette on a Friday night or drank too much beer at a party; ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’……That kind of Christianity pushes people away because it becomes nothing more than a burdensome religion; instead of being a religion that helps people it ends up weighing them down.
I grew up in a Christian culture that loved to argue; the Christians around me were obsessed with convincing everyone they were ‘right about everything’ and that ‘everyone else is wrong about everything’…….Christianity was nothing more than a check list of what you believed or don’t believe……and if I still prescribed to that concept of the religion I probably would of abandoned it a long time ago.
Even writing an article on this subject puts me in the precarious position of opening the door to the many Christians who disagree with me and are waiting to pounce on me to tell me I’m a heretic or some other nasty adjective. Simply because I don’t spend this entire article (and others) overwhelming my readers with my thoughts on Jesus it somehow makes me into the black sheep of my religion.
—) Am I wrong to point out that a lot of people find church to be boring?
—) Am I wrong to point out that a lot of people find church to be irrelevant?
—) Am I wrong to point out that a lot of people find modern Christianity to be intolerant, racist, sexist, misogynist, or fill-in-the-blank?
Am I wrong to point out that there has got to be more to Christianity than merely showing up to a meeting on Sunday and listening to a sermon?
I once visited a mega-church that had their own full-scale coffee shop in the lobby…..now that was a morning I’ve never forgotten….which reminds me, I could use another cup of coffee right now.