Church Criticisms Day 6: Church Is Boring – A Change in Entertainment
“Like newborn babies, thirst for the pure milk of the word so that by it you may grow in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2, ISV).
The need of our generation to be constantly entertained has spilled over into the church. Because of the prevalence of technology and related advancements, mindless entertainment is almost always readily available. We can quickly waste hours scrolling through our social media of choice only to realize we gained nothing from it. With all that we have going on in life, maybe we feel we’ve earned the escape from reality. Why shouldn’t I spend hours watching Netflix or YouTube? I work hard! Along with that thinking, though, comes the expectation that we always need to be entertained. Here’s one of the more egregious examples of this: gas stations have installed small video monitors at the pump to show short videos while we pump gas. Do we really need to be entertained while we pump gas?
Sadly, these expectations have struck at the very heart of church gatherings. If the time spent at church isn’t filled with entertainment of attendees, the criticism comes: “Church is boring!” How can people sit for an hour or two listening to prayers, preaching, and reading the Bible? Instead, demand exists for LED light shows, fog machines, pulsating bass lines, and repeated questions like, “How are y’all feeling today?” In all this, church turns into an erroneous value proposition: I’ll go, but only if I get enough out of it. This is backwards thinking. A New Testament church is where the people of God meet with Christ at the center. He loves us and He gave Himself for us. And we want to know what the church can give to us? Shouldn’t our focus be, instead, on what I can give to the church (and to God)? People might say, “I stopped coming to church because I wasn’t getting anything out of it.” I wonder how much they were putting into it. Thanks to our culture, churchgoers want to be entertained and spoon-fed everything, all the while sitting back and doing absolutely nothing. In many churches, this has been made a viable option. In those gatherings rife with entertainment, how much knowledge of the truth is being conveyed? How much of Christ’s life, suffering, and death? How much of our need for salvation from our sin? Entertainment will never bring satisfaction, but only a cry for bigger and louder and brighter.
The implication, of course, is that the Scriptures (reading, studying, or preaching from them) provide no enjoyment. Where is the hunger and thirst which Peter spoke of? He encourages us to “thirst for the pure milk of the word.” The Word of God should provide enjoyment, refreshment, and lasting satisfaction. I was recently enjoying some time with three friends. The topic of church Bible studies came up, and we mentioned comments we had heard from people saying how boring they were. One of the young men (fellow ‘Vine to Brancher’ Jonathan Draper) said, “If you don’t enjoy studying and discussing the Bible, well…” The unsaid blank was easy to fill. If you don’t, why don’t you? The Scripture is our connection with the Holy Spirit within us. If we get no enjoyment out of it, there must be something wrong. Maybe we need a change in our entertainment.
But this is also a challenge to those who publicly teach believers and preach to the lost. Please make it interesting! If you seem to be bored with the material, you can pretty much guarantee that everybody listening will also be bored. The Gospel is the greatest news that can ever be heard. Preach like you believe it is! The Bible is living, vibrant, and has the power to change lives. Teach with the passion of one who has been changed! Give truth that is relevant, helpful, encouraging, and challenging. Paul told Timothy that Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Can we say that about anything else? Teachers and preachers: the Scriptures you are handling can be used by the Holy Spirit to literally change your life and the life of others. Isn’t that something to be passionate and excited about? It’s far better than whipping an audience into an emotional frenzy, only to give them social-media-ready catchphrases.
Paul gives us this directive: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). Maybe we won’t get clicks, likes, shares, or other related things, but we will get the reward of doing what the Scripture commands. And that isn’t boring at all.