Forgive me if the title I’ve chosen for this article is perhaps a little deceptive or too provocative. I guess you’ll have to decide once you’ve finished reading. My church is not boring to me, though for the purposes of this article, I could understand if some from the outside view it that way.
To give us a starting point, here is a recent example. During this most recent Christmas season I looked around at all the big, exciting churches in my area and they were doing huge Christmas pageants, impressive musical performances, and all the rest. My boring church did none of those things. We simply showed up, lit some Advent candles, and worshipped as usual. No frills, no glitz, no glamor. Just time-tested routines and traditions.
And I love my boring church for that. Allow me to explain.
A Brief Flashback
When I was much younger, in my early 20’s, I started attending my current church with some friends from college. The church I previously attended was a good church, but it was nearly an hour drive one way and I wanted to find something closer so I wouldn’t have to spend so much time in the car. I visited around a few churches in the Nashville area, some I enjoyed and some where I felt completely ignored. Eventually, I found my church. I’ve been at this church ever since.
Even then, over 20 years ago, there was nothing fancy about this church. It was a traditional, Evangelical, Baptist church. Hymns, prayer, offering, preaching, Sunday School, and all the rest. I had a few friends who had been attending this church since birth, so I immediately felt welcomed. But it wasn’t just my friends who welcomed me. Nearly everyone I interacted with was warm and friendly. I had found a new church home and that truth made me very happy and at peace.
Of course, being a young college student, I had opinions. So many opinions. A few months after I started attending, I was invited out for lunch by one of my friend’s parents. These were godly people, a deacon and his wife. We sat down after getting our food – the restaurant was a buffet of sorts – and my friend and I decided that this was the ideal time to pontificate about all the wonderful ideas we had to make the church more modern, hip, and exciting. We were going to make our boring church cool.
You see, I really did like this church, but in the great wisdom I had accumulated in my 20 years of life, I could see the cracks and flaws in the church, and I was there to help make things right.
My friend’s dad sat there and patiently listened to all of our wonderful ideas, our gripes, and our vast knowledge. After we were done unloading, he simply looked at us and said, “I don’t want this to sound rude or dismissive, but you guys are too young and too uninformed about what the church actually does to know what you are talking about.” He said it with more kindness and grace than what I’ve written, but that was the gist. He then proceeded to answer some questions, fill in some gaps in our knowledge, and even agree with us on a few minor points. I walked away from that lunch feeling heard, gently rebuked, but more importantly, wiser.
What is the point of a church?
The purpose of a church is far too big of a topic for me to tackle in one article. And frankly, I doubt I am qualified to do a deep dive into it. I will say this: a church should facilitate worship, discipleship, fellowship, and outreach. If your church is doing all of those things or attempting in some way to accomplish all those things, your boring church is fulfilling its sacred Gospel mission.
Often, those of us who attend a smaller, more boring church have church envy. We see what the mega-church in town is doing and we can get a bit jealous. It is doubtful that my church will ever be featured in Christianity Today or The Gospel Coalition – for good or ill. My boring church is far too simple to attract much attention. And that is okay. The overwhelming majority of churches will never be singled out as shining examples of what a church should be because they lack the flash and bang that catches the eye.
Don’t let that discourage you. Is your boring church preaching and teaching the Good News? Is discipleship a foundational element of your boring church? Are you serving your community? Do you have regular and meaningful times of worship? Is fellowship of the saints a priority for your church? If you are doing these things, your church might seem boring to some, but it is a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
One or two additional thoughts that need to be made before wrapping things up. This is not a defense of boring churches that are going through the motions and dying. Neither am I condemning large churches simply for being loaded with activities and events. Big or small, any church can do their part in building the Kingdom.
I have no problem with the giant productions other churches put on at various times throughout the year. If you have the abilities and finances to do that sort of thing, more power to you. Particularly if it’s meeting the spiritual needs of your congregation and community. Most churches have neither the skill nor the money to attempt big events like that. And sometimes, oftentimes, that can be seen as a negative. I urge you to not fall into the comparison game. There are no winners there.
Most of the time, these things are nothing more than lipstick and rouge. What matters are the bones of the church. If the bones are good, a boring church can be a beautiful and holy thing. Be faithful. Be loving. And as my pastor often says, find where God is moving and working and get involved. God often moves in ways that seem simple or routine, but in the end produce much fruit.
I love my boring church. My church loves well, worships wholeheartedly, serves faithfully, and equips the saints effectively. I don’t need the grand productions and light shows to be excited about my church. If you feel your church is boring and needs to change, take a closer look. Maybe you are focusing on things that matter so very little in the end and missing all the things your boring church is doing right.