Staying awake in church…REALLY???

sunday mass

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.

Kenneth

 



Categories: Religion

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

120 replies

  1. What you have expressed is why I’m not a Christian. And yet I agree wholeheartedly with your view that the spiritual center of our lives should be about love and compassion for others. Arguing over dogmas and condemning others for having the “wrong” beliefs can only detract from that.

    • Linnetmoss,

      I often wonder how many more people would be interested in religion and spirituality if it wasn’t for the negative elements that exist in various churches

    • Oh Ken, we are going to really like each other! I LOVE your blog. Please follow me even though I’m a relative newbie. I am a Theology teacher and a youth minister and a wife and mom of 5 pretty awesome kids. I try to so hard to keep it real and something people can to relate to. I’ll be up early have my favorite Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and checking out your posts. Have a great weekend.

    • ivywick, you replied to my comment instead of starting a new one, so the notification came to me. Hopefully Ken will still see it. Good luck with your blog!

    • He did, thank you! Sorry!

    • Ivy,

      in another life I was headed to being a theology teacher but ended up studying psychology in college instead….all things considered I think I made the best choice for myself and my personality

  2. Great thoughts, Kenneth. Thanks for sharing ^^

  3. What awesome reading 🙂 Sadly, it seems that much of any religion just isn’t relevant anymore and perhaps the Bible or other religious guides as I like to think of them require modernizing and updating… More importantly, portrayal of interpretation is what puts most people to sleep in church.

    I am a Pagan who was raised in a Christian home, with missionary grandparents, atheist mom and a dad who has converted to Catholicism. I remember being ‘dragged’ to church as a kid and my grandmother feeding me XXX mints to keep me awake.

    The beauty of religion is not to enforce it but to share it, no ramming down throats required 🙂

    • “….require modernizing and updating”

      You may very well be right. I know that a lot of people for instance are turned of by certain types of sexism against women by various church denominations; where women are treated like second class citizens to the men

  4. You’re absolutely right. Anyone who thinks sitting in church can make you a Christian must also think that sitting in a garage can make you a car!

  5. I recall going to Sunday school when I was young, was part of the choir…even got baptized. Then we stopped going when I was about ten, oddly it was when my parent’s started having marital problems. I guess they didn’t want to be seen together. My take on religion at the time was that it was more of a social organization than a place to learn. Church sleep overs, rummage sales and cake walks were common.
    I didn’t go to church for a while but towards the end of high school I tried out Young Life. This definitely had more theology than my Sunday School experience of the past and in many ways the people who attended were doing so because they wanted to be on the right path…rather that with the druggies, etc. But there was that social connection as well. I didn’t stay because I didn’t agree with how they addressed interpretation of the bible.

    Then several years later an acquaintance brought me into Scientology, more of a life philosophy than a religion and it had nothing to do with the teaching in the bible. But, it was where I found practical answers to everyday life problems. It wasn’t about going to church once a week and remembering to be good. It was about working to do right or at least better…every day of your life…and you practiced what you learned daily. At one point I went back to my childhood church (while I was still doing Scientology) because I felt moved to so. But after arriving, I found it did not carry that same emotion that I had imagined in my head. That was the last time I connected religion with Jesus and God…and when I started looking at it more in a spiritual sense.

    But, as I found out much later…anything can become corrupted…even Scientology. When I couldn’t ignore the corruption any longer, I left. Once I had some distance, I was able to see that I had become one of these…I’m right and you’re wrong, type of people. Having learned so many valuable life lessons during my involvement, it took quite a bit of work to strip of the zealot aspect so that I could retain the doctrine…which I still value to this day.

    I no longer believe that religion has one specific face or that church must be in a building. To me, religion is more about how you live your life and what you do with it. I find those who live honest lives and do what they can to improve SOCIETY…even in the smallest ways…these people are religious. Others who try to force down a doctrine regardless of the personal actions…these are zealots.

    I think that anything you or anyone else does to open the eyes of others around the world is a good thing…blind faith can be dangerous, in my opinion. Keep bringing up all those things that others tread lightly on. I do believe that is what makes you blog so appealing.

    • I forgot to mention that I love Pope Francis. He seems to get it! He might be the one thing that brings back life to the Catholic church…and he’s cool, too! Best representative for organized religion in modern times, in my opinion.

    • Great thoughts Mrs. P.

      “once I had some distance, I was able to see that I had become one of these ..I’m right your wrong type of people”

      This is THE most frustrating thing about my faith (Christianity) and other religions also…..there is too much closed mindedness and unwillingness by the leadership (and laity) of so many churches…..I don’t get why think think people would be interested in a religion that is entirely built upon arguing over invisible doctrines….

      It’s not that I believe doctrines or dogmas are bad….but when they are used as nothing more than fuel to debate and demean others then it simply goes to far….

      For me, I had to go back to reading the gospels in order to be reminded that jesus wasn’t merely some dude who was obsessed with boring services and inane arguments that went on for eons…but rather he was obsessed with serving others and helping those who really needed help….

      I too am VERY encouraged by Pope Francis, he’s given me a new hope that leaders of churches can change for the better……..

  6. Although I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, I was really more impressed with your bullet-pointing style. It’s like an arrow, but curly!

    • Lol….it was more a matter of convenience that I came up with these particular bullet points; I write all my articles in Microsoft Word and whenever I would copy & paste my article onto the template for my blog; the template would screw up my bullet points….so I played around with it for awhile and learned that these bullet points I created are able to be copied and pasted seamlessly :-). Since I keep having articles of mine stolen and other things related to my blog stolen I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before people start copying my bullet points as well 😉

    • Your bullet points are just that attractive. You should write to Microsoft and see if they’ll put your bullet points in the next version of Word as the default style – they deserve it.

    • lol, yea I don’t think they would find them as attractive as you do 😉

    • Their opinions would be objectively wrong.

  7. My 2 cents/pence worth..IF one is bored in church: a. You should find another church home b. You should try getting more involved with /within the church c. The Pastor isn’t on their JOB with the homily/sermon..But that is my viewpoint based on half-a-lifetime being a “pew” parishioner; and now I’ve grown to a point I’m SO involved with church(parish board member, historical committee board member, gospel choir member, ladies group member) that I don’t hardly have a moment to be bored..As with most things in life, it is my belief, that church experience is also what you put into it. As usual great post Culture Monk!

    • Yes, agreed. My particular faith uses a 3-hour block format currently. But our clergy is a lay one, and most all of the congregation will have a calling (position) on a volunteer basis, and many will give the talks (sermons) during the worship service, which I did myself recently. My ward (congregation) is very supportive– today I am home with my ill daughter, but much of the time I am engaged with my son, who has autism.

      Many I talk to outside my faith are amazed about 3 hours of church on Sunday. The more I’ve been involved, however, the easier that time went. I think that’s what many want– to be engaged in a meaningful way.

  8. I have nominated you for the Inner Peace and Sunshine Award. Please visit my site to get the details. I hope you will accept these awards and pass them on to others. Peace! http://talesalongtheway.com/2013/12/01/sunshine-award-and-inner-peace-award/

  9. Christ’s teachings are radically different from all that modern day Christianity represents, as a religion. I personally believe in Christ yet I am not a member of the social and political institution known as the Christian religion because, like you, I see the hypocrisy, the elements of chastisement and persecution, the hate and discord, and the ignorance that prevail in Christianity, Inc.
    However, Christ embodied humility and compassion, loved and embraced the outcasts, healed the sick, comforted, and tried to steer people away from the very principles that drive the present day man made institution of Christianity. It is a wolf in sheep’s clothing with some innocent and unsuspecting people in the herd.

    • “Christ’s teachings are radically different from all that modern day Christianity represents, as a religion”

      this is a pretty poignant point and one that I mostly agree with; when I look at the life of Jesus and the way he spent his entire ministry down at the bottom with the sick, the lowly, the poor, the hurting, etc….it seems radically different than any type of church demonstrates in our day-and-age….

      I do have to say thought that the new pope is doing some things I have never seen a leader of his magnitude do before…..

    • The pope is doing things differently, I agree…but, I have issues with the whole vatican scene…it reminds me of the roman empire, pomp, splendor, tremendous wealth, control, hierarchy….all that. I agree with you about Jesus’ ministry…he embraced the outcasts and had such love and compassion. As individuals we cant come near his level of brotherly love and especially the love

    • I can’t disagree with you on what you mean by ‘the whole Vatican thing’ and I’m not even roman catholic….I’m just amazed that someone with his level of leadership is saying and doing the things he has done in recent months….pretty amazing, never thought I see someone like him in charge.

    • Lol! im not catholic either!…I was fascinated by the prophecy of a catholic named St. Malachy who prophecized all of the popes that would reign

    • And he said that this one would be the last pope….I better get it together with this reply button, I cut my reply in 3 now!

    • He showed to his enemies….my reply is split in two!….anyway, Christ left us with his teachings and only individuals, some famous like mother teresa, others unkown…could be a neighbor who anonymously helps the poor, or someone who volunteers his services to those that are suffering…they are the true foundations of Christ’s church today….and all of us who believe in Christ have to do our best to apply his teachings in our lives…to me that is religion and Christianity…a very personal one on one relationship with Christ and God….loved your post….we need to be reminded of these things because its easy to lose sight!

    • “some famous like mother teresa, others unkown…could be a neighbor who anonymously helps the poor, or someone who volunteers his services to those that are suffering…they are the true foundations of Christ’s church today”

      totally agree. For me, the churches I grew up in; focused on people who were great teachers and great preachers; not great servants…..so for me what made Mother Theresa great and jesus, and Gandhi and others like them is that they were great servants; they reached out to those in need and helped them…..

      even now; famous Christians here in America are almost always famous ‘professors’, ‘teachers’ ‘orators’ etc….rarely do we hear of the mother Theresa’s….I believe its because western Christianity is way TOO focused on preaching and bible reading and not focused enough on actually living the way jesus lived…..

      its easier to ‘talk about Jesus’ than it is to ‘live like Jesus’ 🙂

    • Its great that the churches you grew up in focused on service to others…that is beautiful..I hope that the world can learn to live like Jesus…we need to press reset and start all over, living like He taught…we dont need the preaching, it can turn into fear ,mongering so easily…..we need to live and walk along the path Jesus created for us…without any institutionalized interferance

    • lol I was saying the opposite; they Didn’t focus on service 😉 they could care less about helping the poor….all they cared about was preaching…I had to break away from that kind of thinking

    • Lolololo……i misread! Well, it was a good thing that you could act on your awareness and consciousness and move on…it is a shame that many churches drift so far away from the essence of Christs teachings. But no institution could possibly contain and teach these by example…the teachings werent meant to be handled according to organizational by laws of “religions”, I think they were meant to be received individually, through ones own contemplation and relationship with Christ.

  10. i didn’t need to read past ‘church is so dam boring’ i only been the once 2 years ago one of bored moment it was lol… that was enough, they can sing and dance all they want they not got this girl! oh hell no have a lovely end to your weekend 🙂

    • I wonder if churches realize that they are turning a lot of people off to religion and spirituality?

    • Hello errm i’m not sure if it is that they are turning people off or that they think they can ‘play god’ with people that they really don’t know in person, and their life and so that puts people off…i got to admit i know a lovely couple known them for over 11 years now, and never once have they pushed the church onto me, they have asked, they have mentioned, but never pushed the church onto me, i went along that once with my children because of them people, had a nice day with them easter last year, even decided to have some of the church friends come into my home, lovely has she is decided nope not for this girl thank you we still friends in the real world her children with my children but it’s more a case of try anything once lol the church was most deffo one of those been there, seen, and no thank you very much expeirences, have a lovely tuesday 🙂

  11. ‘one of those i’m bored moments ‘ the above sentence is supposed to say…tut

  12. and whist i’m on the ole soapbox AKA rant box… oh you got me started now lol, polotics (change the p) 😉 can go take a run to, that’s also not for this girl… both equally has bad as each other imo

  13. Hello Kenneth, good article. Going back almost 50 years I was told I had to go to weekly lessons at our Parish Church so I could be confirmed. I wasn’t bothered at all, but Dad had clearly been given instructions my my grandma! I went to the lessons, and was duly confirmed. Having gone through all that, I could not see the point of being confirmed and then never going to communion, so I discussed it with my Mum and she suggested I went to the monthly communion which was (in those days) followed by a free breakfast. That sounded okay! So I went and had my first (and so far only) communion. Then we traipsed over the road to the breakfast. It was toast, cornflakes, milk, orange juice, tea. It seems of the 200 young people who had been confirmed that year, I was so far the first one to attend Communion, I was told. I then sat quietly while the rest of the breakfasting Communicants ranted and raged on about young people this, young people that, and how homosexuals were going to go to Hell. I sat there and smiled through gritted teeth and finished my breakfast then I left. I never went back again. That was in 1964 and I do not see any indications that Churches and Religions have changed very much since then. Love the blog. Paul from Gay Activist

    • “was in 1964 and I do not see any indications that Churches and Religions have changed very much since then”

      there has been some progress…but too often it is difficult to find. There are a number of well known theologians and professors who are challenging the traditional views of the church and trying to make positive inroads toward reaching out to the lost, the hurting, the neglected….and are also trying to challenge the church in how they have treated women, homosexuals, minorities, and others……the new pope for instance is saying and doing things that I never thought a religious leader of his magnitude would ever do 🙂 I have hope 🙂

    • I don’t share your optimistic view, especially since so many religious organisations funded from the US continue to rampage around Africa and Asia doing activities and saying things which would not be allowed at home, and causing so many gay people to die.

    • I can’t argue with that because I’ve heard stories of that happening…..at least though in the academic world there are people who are challenging the traditionalists when it comes to these important issues; N.T. Wright, Peter Enns, the new pope, etc.

  14. I do believe that the Lord himself said our “job” as Christians is to love the Lord God with all our hearts, and our neighbor as ourselves. Nothing added to it or taken away. Christianity should be about LOVE…period. I don’t attend any church on a regular basis, just because of all the man-made rules that have become “Gospel”…A personal relationship with God, and showing his love to others is what I’m all about, and I think He’s fine with that, and with me. Great post…as always! 🙂

    • 🙂 I speak from experience. I know many well-meaning Christians and churches who have just pushed me away with their way of thinking. I want to spread the gospel and get people saved as I’m told in the bible…but, I think that showing them the Love that Christ showed to others is the best way to plant seeds, and let God handle it from there.

    • ” I speak from experience. I know many well-meaning Christians and churches who have just pushed me away with their way of thinking”

      I feel you on that kim 😦 sadly this is a problem in churches all over the western world

    • It really is so true and so sad…we should all be of “like minds”, but that seems so far away from the church today. I think it is just so much ego that has replaced what should be love and union in Christianity.

  15. This blog post is SO timely – because I just got back from a trip (in Western New York) and the church I visited was horrible. My two Aunts invited me to a candlelight service – and I am going to possibly write about it on my own blog – but I have to share that I realized that night that the reason church attendance is on the decline in the United States – is because so many services are “L A M E” – or boring – as you would say.
    The service started with error – and after threes songs (by a solo guy who sang like James Taylor with a yodel – kinda weird) well this other guy gets up to take the offering and goes off about how the Bible commands tithing – I shook my head “no” and this only fueled him – he then went on about how a church down the road said that the NT does not command it (which I agree with – and instead we are to give cheerfully as the Lord leads and to support ministries that are feeding us) – anyhow, I looked down to doodle because I was not there to fight – I expected some type of error and so I was chilling.

    Then the preacher guy jumped all over the Bible – and actually I still have no idea of what most of his message was about as he went back and forth from Leviticus, Luke, Exodus, Revelation – omygosh….then he proudly exited the stage when done – and out of respect I would not leave during the middle – even though other times I have – but I could not go down and do communion with these folks with so much irritability in my heart. Plus, my side was still hurting from where my aunt elbowed me earlier when she wanted me to put something in the offering plate.

    Okay, so another great post Mr. Culture Monk – and if churches want to know why they are losing Generation X – well they first have to see why other generations are also dismayed – and like you said – the chore it becomes for many to attend a sunday morning service. We are the church and we bring our sanctuary with us – and YES, we are not to forsake the gathering together with other believers -and there is strength in unity – but the Sunday morning tradition is not meeting the needs for too many – and we need to rethink our gatherings.

    • I think Mr. Culture Monk hit the nail on the head with “a lot of people find modern Christianity to be intolerant, racist, sexist, misogynist, or fill-in-the-blank.”

      Until modern Christianity overcomes all those obstacle and becomes truly accepting of everyone, the decline will continue. I, for one, wouldn’t care so much about services being boring if I felt like I was a part of a community that embraced everyone. If I could make a mistake and find support instead of rejection, that would be nice too.

    • Many people mistakenly believe that accepting everyone means that it’s okay to be the way you are. There are, though, some areas of right and wrong. The church ought to embrace everyone but show people the way to grow in godly character and behavior. God takes me as I am but loves me too much to let me stay that way 🙂

    • Pastorlinzey,

      the principle we find throughout scripture is that god deals with everyone on different time tables;

      We can’t enforce our own arbitrary agenda upon people when god isn’t working on ‘those’ particular issues in their life; if we do so we end up frustrating them in their walk with god

      for instance, was it gods plan for the Israelites to have female sex slaves or to be polygamists? I think we would both agree that such practices end up causing injustice against women (among other things)

      so if you had lived in the time of david (when he had multiple wives and multiple concubines i.e. sex slaves) and you had made an issue of the whole sex slave thing you probably would have been talking to a brick wall because David (and all the other men of his era) weren’t at a place to talk about the subject because god was busy dealing with other issues….

      and so it is in our day and age; there are plenty of things we could spend eons of hours preaching at people (which sadly is what a lot of evangelicals do) and end up accomplishing nothing……

      So we have to be sensitive to the culture we are living in and understand what matters the most at this current time…..

      Professor Mark Noll’s book “the scandal of the evangelical mind” is a good place to start.

    • I believe one can be sensitive to the culture and still speak biblical truth. It’s not an either/or. To make it so reduces the Gospel to whatever makes you feel fuzzy….

      I understand that people progress at different paces, but we still speak God’s truth.

    • Pastorlinzey,

      See, I shared something with you but you completely ignored the biblical principle and analogy I gave you….it was like me trying to tell King David that female sex slaves are wrong; talking to a brick wall….sometimes people aren’t ready to receive something we have to say so we have to meet them where ever they are….I clearly wasn’t sensitive enough to know that you wouldn’t listen to a thing I said.

    • I didn’t ignore you. In fact, I acknowledged that people progress at different rates. Nevertheless there is still a place to speak biblical truths to people regardless of their particular path. Please don’t confuse simple disagreement with ignoring you. Additionally, there is no call to be rude or snarky. I thought we were engaged in discussion… :/

    • F. Female sex slaves equals injustice against women

      Q. Why didn’t god in the o.t. (torah) confront the Israelites over the female sex slaves that the Israelites had? Why was this massive injustice toward women completely ignored?

    • The Bible will often address the culture as it is to make it better for that system. In terms of slavery, the Bible does not abolish the system but teaches owners and masters how to behave towards each other in God-honoring ways.

      You seem to be hung up on the sex thing, but the Bible never condones mistreating people sexually.

    • Pastor Linzey,

      I’m not sure why your not getting my point, this will be my last comment on this thread cuz I’m simply outta time;

      Good parents don’t “correct” every single thing their children do wrong….they let some things slide because they are working on other issues that are more important in their children’s life….

      good parents are sensitive to what ‘really’ needs to be dealt with in their child’s life…..and they ignore the other things as they will deal with those issues when the time is right….otherwise they could end up overwhelming the child….

      As a drug counselor I was trained to deal with the issues that matter most with my clients; what bloody point is there for me to try to tell a heroin addict that they shouldn’t be eating so much trans fat in their diet? Dealing with the heroin addiction is far more important than dealing with too much trans fat in their diet!

      And that was my analogy with the sex slaves of the Israelites ; why the hell you think I was saying the bible condoned mistreating people sexually is beyond me…clearly you didn’t read or understand properly the point I was making…..

      The point I WAS making is that the old testament simply ignores certain issues because perhaps the time wasn’t right to address them…..

    • I understood you. You seem to be getting quite heated. Your tone and language are not necessary – we’re just having conversation.

      I agree with you that parents focus on the important issues and let non-essentials go by. I was simply saying that your approach was coming near to a “anything goes” attitude. That is not the Gospel. When we come to Jesus we start a journey of transformation (at least that’s what Paul would have us believe from Romans). I’m not sure what parts of my statements have you so riled up. I believe in grace and forgiveness – but we cannot soft-sell the Gospel for the sake of inclusiveness. At some point the Gospel is still the Gospel and it needs to be talked about.

    • I suppose that’s true. I just feel like people shouldn’t feel shunned by a religion for where they are in life right now.

      For example, say someone is currently struggling with a drug addiction. Perhaps they are so far gone as to have done horrible things to feed their addiction. They shouldn’t be afraid to participate in religious activity. In many ways, I can see where religion may be a huge benefit, but only if they can embrace the person. By that I mean, they should be welcomed and it should be made obvious that the religious community is there to support them in their endeavors to overcome the struggle.

      Maybe that’s a bad example, but it’s as good as I got for the moment. So often, a church seems like the place where everyone is perfect with perfect lives and perfect families. People without those perfections should still be able to feel welcomed as they struggle with their own demons instead of scorned and cast aside.

    • You and I are in agreement – someone who struggles should be welcomed into the family of faith and not shunned. I’m not talking about shunning people. I’m talking about welcoming people while still (lovingly) maintaining that there is a better way God has called us to live.

      And there are no perfect people in any church. Some pretend to be, but the church is supposed to be a hospital for the broken 🙂

  16. I am not one to speak who believes ones church is always carried around in a heart.
    But could it be and this is guessing since i haven’t been in a church for decades. That people find it to repetitive. or as one could call it brainwashing ( forgot the other word). like lecturing the same over and over. But that is something i can only imagining happening right now as to why it can be called boring.

    • “That people find it to repetitive”

      have you ever heard the colloquialism ‘six of one half a dozen the other’ ? I think that applies in this situation because there are certain elements of our humanity that likes repetition; we enjoy things that are familiar; traditions, putting up Christmas trees every year, having dinner with our loved ones on holidays…etc…

      BUT, sometimes those traditions can become hollow and empty…and I think that’s the repetition your talking about; that somehow in the repetition of the mass/worship service people can end up feeling that it is dull and boring…..but that is usually because the church has become disconnected from their everyday lives

  17. I agree 100% I am not officially a christian because, unfortunately, no church will accept the way I believe. Lol!

  18. I admit our faith is fairly steeped in an old-fashioned Protestant tradition, in some ways. Gladys Knight, when she converted to our faith, said that we Mormons tend to sing our hymns like “funeral dirges”. Granted, she’s got a point– we do.

    Look up her rendition of “I Am A Child of God”, which is a Primary (children’s group) song that’s been in our hymnbook since 1985. I wouldn’t mind some of our special musical numbers or even small choir-sung hymns sounding more like that.

  19. I also wrote about this in my Acts study. Are you a sleepy Christian? Acts 20 verses 7-12 | Small Group Bible Study
    http://robertjgood.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/are-you-a-sleepy-christian-acts-20-verses-7-12/

  20. I’ve been a Christian for 36 years now, and I find the Scriptures, and Christ as inspiring as ever. The actual Church services I’ve attended in recent months have been oh so tedious!

    What’s gone wrong?

    Perhaps we’ve become trapped into a sense of “belonging” rather than embracing a culture of serving.

    Many do not believe what The Bible says, and think it’s time “modernise” and chuck out the bits which aren’t seen as politically correct.

    Instead of marvelling at Jesus, we wonder at what He’s done and is supposedly doing for us.

    We’ve stopped believing in a radical Holy Spirit and exchanged him for a moral code.

    I’ve been struck by how many of the gifts we receive only become available as we witness for Jesus.

    Maybe Christians are now so self obsessed that the person of Christ has been utterly forgotten.

    Lord save the Western Church from its’ Club Mentality, and get her to listen the steadfast knocking of Rev 3:20.

  21. Kenneth, I’m beginning to think that coffee with you is an experience.

    There is a difference between being religious or brought up in religion and growing up understanding God’s grace. Much easier to be a follower of Jesus Christ and find peace, love and grace in knowing Him.

    Great post!!

  22. Sitting in a church building does not make you a Christian and don’t believe anyone who tells you so! There are so many hypocrites attending Church every Sunday.

  23. I feel like we must have belonged to similar religions as children because you basically described my childhood. I joke that they made this mistake of sending me to a Catholic school which encouraged me to ask questions, even about my own faith, and focused on loving others more than anything else.

    The recent church I have been going to for the past month seems to have addressed a lot of the issues you mention about boring services. They have two sanctuaries for traditional and contemporary worship so you can choose which type works best for you. four pastors rotate each Sunday, so you almost never listen to the same person speak within one month. Lastly, they seem more concerned about actions than the specifics of belief. (they even have a coffee shop and a small library)

    Unfortunately, I think most people choose to ether go through the motions or completely abandon all religion. People rarely want to visit different faiths and decide which, out of all that exist, most resonate with them.

    As always, a fantastic post.

    • “Unfortunately, I think most people choose to ether go through the motions or completely abandon all religion. People rarely want to visit different faiths and decide which, out of all that exist, most resonate with them”

      I think the problem is compounded for women because so many churches treat women like second class citizens. They think that because the biblical culture from thousands of years ago treated women as lesser than men that somehow justifies their right to treat women as less than equal here in the 21st century…it sucks.

  24. Love your post! “all that matters is loving people and meeting them wherever they are at in life.” So very true! Love is always first. As far as church being boring, I guess it is the same as with any other part of our lives. We get more out of things we put more into. I always leave church with a “pearl.” It may be something said in the homily or the sweet look of an old man who shook my hand at the “kiss of peace.” Today, I really enjoyed singing the hymns associated with the beginning of Advent. I left feeling so satisfied. There have been times at other churches that I’ve had to search high and low for the “pearl,” but have never left empty handed.

  25. Aa a pastor of a church, I would have to agree with you. Totally with you on the love, acceptance and relevant serving part. If we can’t do better in these areas than a pub or coffee shop, we should hang it up. 🙂

  26. It’s very sad to see and find out what happens in your Western Culture regarding to this topic. Few months ago I saw a beautiful building with a really great architecture – smashed to the ground…a Church! I asked what in the world is happening? My american friend who is 83 years old who lives in that area said ” the Church wasn’t any longer functional, people were less and less to the Mass, they had to close it, they sold the land with the Church and they gonna build some offices”. I guess as you say Kenneth, they were very bored by those who were teaching/preaching about God.

    For me, for us romanian people who lived almost half of a century in a communist regim and Church somehow was prohibited…now for us Church is a sacred place. I know, the man/priest sanctify a place/Church (romanian saying about human nature – good/ less good) but we go to Church or we do not go. There is not a such thing ” wow the sermon was so boring….” And yes, someone may say…”yeah they belong to the 3rd world…so poor/limited that they have nothing else to do than pray and hope…”
    This topic can go on forever…why?

    • Dana,

      great comments. I think you beautifully expressed the major difference between living in the United States versus living in Romania….here in America a lot of people have become ungrateful for what we have…..where as you said; after living all those years under the communist regime you still have the memory of what life was like before….and you’re very thankful for the freedom you have now….

      great thoughts 🙂

  27. When you spend a life time learning your ABC’s after you already learned them as a kid how could church be anything BUT boring?. . . .

    we are race horses . . . at the gate . . . . that never opens. The church is that gate.

  28. I guess its different for me I love hearing religious lectures! Here in Iraq people actually race to get a front seat just so they can hear the sermons, (I should say that I’am a Shia Muslim.) When our sheik or sayad give a sermon they speak about current events, history, sayings and what they mean, They tell us the stories of our heroes and they explain evils. In the ten+ years of living in Iraq I have gotten a full education in what it is to be a human being! I can only hope others get the chance that I got.

    • great comments…..

      Last month I spent quite a bit of time reading about the history of Islam because I didn’t know very much about the differences between Shia and Sunni Muslims…..in America the media makes it sounds like Shia and Sunni Muslims are at each other’s throats but I wonder if there is more peace between the two schools of thoughts then we are being led to believe.

    • best place to understand the difference between shia and sunni Islam is http://www.al-islam.org/ great learning website! and its all in English and there is a lot of reading material. We are not always at each others throats but the shia have had to suffer a lot more for their beliefs then sunnis. I wanted to share this book with you Jesus through shia narrations, gives you an idea of how little difference there is between muslims and christians. http://www.al-islam.org/jesus-though-shiite-narrations-mahdi-muntazir-qaim

  29. The hypocrisy you mention above is exactly why we’ve chosen not to raise our kids with any sort of organized religion. I think hypocrisy exists in every religious sect. It’s the judgment and the high-and-mighty attitude that I can’t tolerate, because it contradicts what religion is supposed to be about. Great, thought provoking post.

    • Yea, it can be tough when it comes to children because on the one hand the traditions connected to religion can be really good for them and give them a sense of security…but on the other hands the negatives things about modern religion can have a bad effect on them……

  30. When people ask me if I’m a Christian, I tell them I don’t subscribe to religion. I’m on my own branch as a Jesus-follower , because I want to live my life the way He does (read the New Testament if you are curious). I don’t need a church and my ministry is case-by-case as opportunities meet me. I teach others how to be Christ-like through my blog and as people-who proclaim to be Christians-make unChrist-like statements, I give gentle correction. If people have questions, I provide answers with care.

    • “I give gentle correction…”

      I like the way you included the world gentle in your comments…..too often Christians and religious people can be a little to ‘rough’ in their approach to others

    • I guided an 83-year old woman-who is rigid in her Baptist-engrained beliefs-to see the value in a tattoo-covered man who appeared rather intimidating. She told me it was the most helpful conversation she’d had in years. I take pride in the compassion and wisdom years of abuse, therapy, and recovery afford me. Guiding people to experience the fullness of life is what I live and love to do. So thank you for recognizing that about me.

    • Not to pick on baptists (i know a few baptist people who are very gracious and laid back) but I’ve talked with a number of them who are very anti-tattoos and seem to think getting a tattoo is tantamount to doing something very evil….so I know what you mean 🙂

    • I can confirm your statement. It’s silly, I know, how people let their insecurities defeat them. Everything boils down to insecurity. In the case of religion, I can think of two insecurities that drive people to judgment and fanaticism:

      1.) Fear of death
      2.) Fear of persecution

  31. Love, LOVED, this!
    Let’s face it, If the story of Jesus’ incarnation is true, it was a botched attempt. I say that because we Christians continue to practice the things Jesus came here to refute. His message was saturated with the key points you detailed so aptly in this post!

    Yes, church is boring. Why? Simple. God isn’t there. God is where the love is—in the serving, as you say—in the tenderness shown others. Not only that, God is permeated in all life, not confined to a static, ritualized religious order or a particular location, such as, a building. Whenever God is placed in a church, squeezed and organized inside a religion, we lose God. Wherever God isn’t, we’re bored.

    • Salee,

      yea….I’m hesitant to go so far as to saying that God and religion can’t go together…but it does seem that many religions and Christian sects seem to have somehow pushed god outside of their buildings….

  32. Kenneth… you would remember the coffee machine… lol. I totally agree with this! The only perspective I might offer is this: part of our alleged boredom is that people want church to be entertaining also. Yes people are bored with the preachiness but they’re also bored simply because it’s not a movie. People want to be entertained – they’ve forgotten what the purpose is all about. Do I like going to a mass that doesn’t capture my attention? Of course not (granted I haven’t actually been to church in years for other reasons but still). I just throw that out there because I look at things like Black Friday and now it’s every year that some people die because of the rush that occurs and the ones who are acting all ridiculous and I’m willing to bet those who act all crazy on Black Friday have at least some belief in God and had just said all these prayers right before Thanksgiving dinner to be thankful for what they already have but then turn around and act like that (and no I don’t even mean religious zealots either -just those who believe in God at some level). It’s ridiculous. Perspective and priorities have gone right out the window. It’s disgraceful.

    • Jen, lol it was a whole full scale coffee shop at the church! not just a coffee machine lol

      ” I’m willing to bet those who act all crazy on Black Friday have at least some belief in God and had just said all these prayers right before Thanksgiving dinner to be thankful for what they already have but then turn around and act like that…”

      dude, so true….its all so f***ing ridiculous isn’t it??? Truth be told for a few years running I used to get up at 4 in the morning to go to do the whole black Friday thing (cuz I get up early anyways) but when they switched it to thanksgiving day last year I stopped doing it…..seems so dumb to me to go shopping on a holiday…

  33. Thank you for “liking” my blog – otherwise I would not have found yours! I can really relate to what you are saying about our faith as Christians. I was born/raised as a Catholic, then later baptized in a pentecostal church. I believe in the love of Christ and His word. But there’s a great deal of history and interpretation that we have to take into account before we can “argue” what is right and wrong. I think a lot of it falls into a cloud called “grace” and we just live in faith knowing God covers us with His grace..we’ll never really know for sure until we meet Him face to face 🙂

  34. I agree with you that Christianity needs to be outward focused and serve real needs. At the same time, that Christianity needs to be balanced with right thinking. It often seems (to me, I admit) that people want the Christian service part while ignoring the faith part. The claims of Christ are exclusive – those who believe the Bible understand that all roads do NOT lead to God. The trick is maintaining a balance between right belief and loving others (not berating or belittling them) in spite of their disbelief – but it can be done.

  35. I use to get so bored during Mass, and almost always slept through the homily.

    The thing that changed that was when I learned what was going on in Mass. “The Lamb’s Supper” by Scott Hahn made connections for me that I didn’t realize.

    I’ve been to a number of other services over the years. These are usually much more active (some still put me to sleep), but they just weren’t reverent.

    There are many who call themselves Christians, yet do not live as Christians. Then again, I know Buddhists that don’t necessarily live as Buddhists either.

    • While I’m not roman catholic I really appreciate Scott hahn and the passion and energy that flows through his writings and lectures…I own a number of his books and his zeal and passion is contagious 🙂

    • That reply just made me think that I’m going to like it here very much. 🙂

  36. Great post! Maybe a lot of people find Church boring simply because it tends not to be very interactive, just like how they tell me that just lecturing to students is not enough. You have to interact with the audience, ask them questions, get them into groups to discuss amongst themselves, etc. The list goes on. Of course all these brilliant pedagogical techniques don’t work very well when the group is large. Small classes are often much more engaging and more personal. Few speakers are good enough to be really passionate and inspiring. I’ve been to some pretty bad talks at conferences, even when I was interested in the subject material.

  37. Kenneth – thanks for the post! I appreciate your comments on the church… here are a few thoughts to your questions, from a Christian Pastor:

    —) 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?
    I’ll answer both of these together: Not wrong at all. It’s sad but true that a lot of churches are boring and irrelevant. Does that mean we should write off church? No! If the Christian Church became more like Jesus was – a center of love, designed for the healing of broken people, where love, acceptance and forgiveness prevail, I think more people would be interested in joining the church. One of the things that we endeavour to do as a church is to have fun as we worship, examine the Bible, and share our lives with one another. I believe the Bible is supremely relevant to people’s lives, and strive to show them how the Word of God applies to their relationships, family, workplace, finances, etc.

    —) 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?
    Again, not wrong at all, as long as people realize that none of those things are characteristic of true Bible Christianity. Jesus Himself welcomed all people – the sexually deviant, prostitutes, thieves, and people of all races (the hated Samaritans) and He also elevated the status of women in a culture that was patriarchal. A Christian who has personally experienced the unconditional love and grace of Jesus Christ will be supremely motivated and empowered to extend the same love and grace to all others.

    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?
    Not at all, because you are correct. Jesus never called anyone to ‘go to church’ but rather to follow Him, and do what He did – heal sick people, deliver those captive to bad habits and sins, and befriend the unlovely.

    I appreciate your posts, and also enjoy a good cup of coffee. I think I’m going to go have my third one today. Cheers!

    • Chris, thanks for the kind and intelligent comments…nothing I need to add to all you wrote but I looked up your church website a month or two ago and thought I might say that I used to enjoy hearing DR sproul speak when I lived in Florida, he was pretty influential in my life when it came to guiding my theological studies as a teenager….

    • Thanks for the response, Kenneth… when I was an adjunct professor at Pacific Life Bible College several years ago, I used Sproul’s book “Knowing Scripture” in my Hermeneutics course. I too enjoy his writings. Blessings to you today!

  38. EXACTLY how I feel. I knew that going to “church” was irrelevant to my life as well as irrelevant to my relationship with God. I am so glad that there are other bloggers out there who point out the obvious.

  39. I can see both sides of the coin. I’ve attended everything from worship services at Mainline Protestant churches to Divine Liturgy services with the Eastern Orthodox. And each time I find the service boring I’ve wondered why it is. After all, this is supposed to be a time where everything is set aside for communing with other believers and worshipping God. Yet why could it be so boring at times? And often I’ve found the problem lies with me. I tend to have something on my mind, maybe a project due Monday or a bizarre dream the not before. Or maybe I have an irrational dislike of the person preaching. Their voice is too soft or their theology is not as straightforward as mine. In any case, the problem is often with me and what I’m doing not the service itself. And looking at some of your examples where attending church is hassle, I see that problem there as well. They’re not attending church to be benefitted from it but because they believe it is expected. And to a degree it is, but that’s beside the point.

    Sure, there are bad pastors and preachers who don’t know a thing about correct doctrine or simply how to be an engaging public speaker. There are worship bands that try too hard to be rock stars. And there are churches which over-emphasize attendance rather than reaching their congregants through worship and a sermon. Yet I’m not convinced that the problem lies with churches that concern themselves with doctrinal disputes instead of helping others (though that can be a problem). Instead I see it as a problem with where the mind and heart of the worshipper is instead of the church.

  40. No you are not wrong in how you feel. Fire and brimstone, hell and damnation are still preached every day. I am a Unitarian Universalist, and we have fun in church. We try to involve everyone in Sunday Services with music, skits, poetry, etc. Our pastor and lay people come up with very interesting sermons/services that deal with many ideas, questions, religions, etc. We celebrate life in all it’s varied forms. Too many churches are too focused on who’s right and who’s wrong. Sad.

Trackbacks

  1. Tithing error (Buffalo trip-part 3) | PRIORHOUSE blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: