There is a false and pernicious idea that Liturgy is boring; that church is boring and irrelevant; and that is why people, especially young people, are staying away.
Personally, I’ve never been convinced of that argument. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Perhaps people find church and Liturgy boring because they are bored, and because their lives are boring! I’m not saying this to put anyone down or to imply that nothing about the Orthodox Church is boring. Far from it, I’m the first to point out the deficiencies in Orthodox church structures and ways.
But look around. People are bored. That is why we run to every new gadget, why we bury our faces in small and large screens, why we communicate with text messages and emojis and YouTube and Facebook. Because we are bored. Nothing Apple can produce will satisfy people’s boredom; we will always want more. That is why Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Sony, and other behemoths, are constantly updating their products. People need something new every day: because they are bored!
So should the church join the racket of the weekly updates? Is that what will bring people to Liturgy? Don’t be fooled. Why are there so many revolving doors in evangelical and non-denominational churches? They look full every Sunday, but how well do they retain people? These churches change their songs and videos every week, they look like they’re catering to the market obsession with “the new”; but they don’t retain members any better than we do, they’re actually doing worse. But they look full because there is a constant movement of people from one “relevant, up-to-date” church to another. It’s the secret of evangelical success in this country – the revolving door of “believers” who are often nothing more than bored consumers of religion.
Look at your own habits, as I look at my own habits. I don’t go anywhere, even inside the house, without my iPhone in my hand or in my pocket. How often in any 5-minute span do you/I look at the notification screen of your/my phone or tablet? Why? Because we are bored.
So don’t tell me church is boring. That’s a cop-out. But let me say it more clearly: Church is boring, you say? I agree that it is! But it’s boring only because WE ARE BORING!
So let’s get off our boring and bored lifestyles. Let’s turn off the electronic devices that are turning us into carriers of attention-deficit disorder. Take a sabbath rest from the market empires that rule our lives. That’s what two hours on a Sunday morning can be for you: an entry into a new kingdom, a kingdom of beauty and peace and attention-fullness. If all of us could come to Liturgy with such awareness and such need for healing from our scattered, bored lives, then the Liturgy will becomes more alive for us.
There is nothing more “relevant” in our lives than the need for release and freedom. God ordained a sabbath for good reason. God has known from all eternity that a sabbath rest from the daily forces that feed on our boredom and lack of freedom is the most basic need of human beings. But for the first time in human history, the sabbath has been eliminated and it has been replaced by enslavement to the Now of computer screens and smartphone notifications. Don’t be a slave to boredom. Join the battle for holistic, authentic living, rather than the fakery that aims to claim every moment of your life with false promises of “something new” but only makes you more bored and hungry for more escape from boredom. Reclaim your life from the machine of boredom! And then church and Liturgy will cease to be boring as well. It’s a good goal to strive for in 2017. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
2 Replies to “The Church is Boring, You Say?”
The Church is not at all boring. Gods words are not at all boring…….. Yes people expect instant gratification. They ,we have all slowly been conditioned in society to get what we want or think it’s what we want now! right now!!!! Fast food, fast driving ,overnight shipping, tv shows ,news from all over the world, instant weather reports, etc,etc etc.I have customers whom get impatient with me if i do not answer the phone or call them back asap…. This (YES) is our American society ….now now now …not a little later not tomorrow NOW!.This conditioning didn’t happen over night ,it took some time along with Industrial revolution and of course Technology. Ok so i could ramble indefinitely back to the church ,If you come with your heart and mind and soul open to the LORD you will never find the church boring . Just the opposite ….. we that do and there are many of us YES many many many ….. You will see if you’ve not all ready the giving we have in us for the CHURCH and OUR LIVING GOD JESUS THE CHRIST. I say to you He Lives In Us ….
WE LOVE HIM FOREVER AND EVER AMEN.
I’m less sure than you, Kostas, that the scandalous, sharp-eyed, sharp-spoken, prostitute – friendly Son of God, whom nobody found boring, hasn’t been successfully buried by the dead weight of all our worship. Remember Nietzche’s madman who asked what else the churches wre but the tombs and sepulchres of God….and went about singing his RIP to the deity.
But you’re own attack on instant satisfaction is not all boring and should make people think. It’s worthy of your John Goldenmouth who wrote the liturgy but also gave sharp sermons!
Keep preaching the lively word!