Last night I gathered in my home with a few young adults to discuss this question: Why are we so bored at church? It’s a weird question, and honestly not a good one in my opinion; but it did lead to some great conversations. We discussed all kinds of things like why we might be bored, who might be to blame and what we might do to address these issues. I think my friends found some encouragement and sharpening from the our time together, but if not, at least it served to produce some good blogging material! Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to attempt to distill our conversation.
We started with the proposed question: Why? Immediately we brainstormed a list of possibilities: things like repetition, attitude of heart, length of service, “song fatigue” (to which one girl responded: “I love singing!”), life distractions and more. It definitely stimulated some honest, critical thinking and what I appreciated the most; they didn’t just outright lambaste the pastors and church leadership.
In response I proposed four categorical reasons why we might get bored with a particular Christian community. This morning, as I reflected on our conversation, I decided to add one more which I think I missed the night before.
Culture- We harp a lot about the differences of culture between the generations. When one generational culture dominates leadership, other generations (especially younger) will feel left out.
Consumerism- Let’s face it, we love to consume and that mentality has infiltrated the western church in an ugly way. Furthermore it’s no secret that we have raised our kids in a consumer culture and so they speak this language fluently. When people of any age show up to a church with the expectation to only consume, they will eventually grow bored. After all, the nature of consumerism is to consume one thing until you get enough and move on to something else!
Contribution- The question is whether or not people have a chance to contribute to the needs of the community. If not, it only makes sense that they will get bored. This is really connected to the ideas of consumerism, but slightly different in my opinion. A young person may not be coming with the expectations of a consumer, but is your church prepared to give them a place at the table where they can contribute regularly and feel like a member of the body?
Connectedness- This is about people’s connections to God and to each other. If people aren’t interacting with God, hearing him and experiencing him, then I don’t know how they would stay encouraged. Of course we can’t control this, but it doesn’t cease to be true. What we can have a greater influence on however is whether or not people are connected to others. Relationships have and will always stand out as primary reasons that people connect with a church.
Commission- Without blowing the “missional” horn too loud, we do have to remember that to be a church is to be a community of Christ followers with a mission in the world. In my opinion, church will inevitably become uninteresting without this being held up as a constant priority in some way.