The Case for a Boring Faith
I'd rather have an insipid faith - if there is such a thing - then an irresponsible one. Deliberately deceiving and washing its hands of the consequences marks a faith that I don't want.
But boring faith doesn't sell and what doesn't sell, well, doesn't sell books, downloads, or any other faith-based paraphernalia.
Boring faith doesn't pack church buildings either.
Traditional churches, which are confused with boring faith, are experiencing exits en masse as light shows and skinny jeans put bucks in the buckets and behinds in the seats.
Could we be reducing our precious faith to an entertainment addiction?
Just because Netflix gives us the power to salaciously select anything to satiate our craving does that mean we need to approach every facet of our life with a search for thrills and chills?
The need to "feel something" is a dangerous seductress.
She woos us and beguiles us into believing that if we are not moved to the emotion we have not had a meaningful spiritual experience.
But following the trail from one spiritual mountain top to the next can be easily likened to a heroine junky looking for his next fix or a sex addict yearning for her next orgasm.
Pretty soon we can begin to approach religion and spirituality chemically, that is, our bodies desire the rush of the experience of coming together rather than being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes this adrenaline-charged faith branches out from corporate rock concert gatherings and into the practical realm of living faith. We are told that real faith is about slaying gainers, chasing lions, and staring down Satan as a "more than conqueror."
While I have zero disagreements that lion chasing, giant slaying, a complete spiritual conquering are aspects of the Christian life, I'm saddened that they seem to be the only aspects that Christians clamor for.
Perhaps this speaks to an overwhelming insecurity and absence of spiritual identity among the people of God.
But doesn't that pose an important question, why are we so insecure if the predominant message we hear in church and read in books is one of our God-given awesomeness?
The equation is left unbalanced and as my math teacher always said, that's incorrect, Josh.
The Unbalanced Equation
When is the last time you and your church corporately acted out the Psalmist instruction to be still and know that he is God?
Could you imagine the deep bored sighs as hundred of people just sat in silence for an hour and meditated on the beauty that is God and his grace?
I was listening to a show on SiriusXM radio and the host said that if the computer system detected six consecutive seconds of dead air that it would override the programmer and play a pre-populated song list. Does the church operate much different?
God forbid silence and stillness! People will get bored and leave! We must constantly be entertaining them so they will like us...I mean, that they will come into the presence of the Good Shepherd. Yes, that's what I meant...
It is perfectly normal to sit at a Starbucks and read a book in the company of other coffee drinkers and still feel accomplished in your day's activities. Switch the venue and people would find it ridiculous that you drove to the church to sit and read the Bible quietly to yourself in the presence of your spiritual brothers and sisters.
And yes, I know that the Sunday corporate gathering, with its history rooted in synagogue worship and selective gatherings, is purposefully designed to for teaching, singing, sacrificial offering, and spiritual presence.
But do we really expect a weekly rock show and motivational speech to be able to provide the proper balance that a Christian needs to walk the terra firma?
We replicate what we see and what we experience. When church leaders fall into an entertainment centered discipleship strategy to hinges on positive emotional experiences, we are inviting the congregation to interpret every single spiritual experience in their lives to a concert environment.
While this helps sell church music albums, it doesn't offer an answer for when the emotional excitement gets low. When the levels get low the addicts go looking for another fix, and the leaders are left trying to figure out why so many people keep leaving.
Its because you haven't taught them that boring was actually great.
Boring is Great.
Take a super athlete. Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, and Simone Biles would be excellent choices.
They have a genetic advantage over most of their competition. Their natural athleticism separates them from the majority of other humans. But their natural giftedness - their first nature - is not enough to become the greatest of all time.
The repetition of jump shots, laps, and tumbles could easily qualify as boring. The same motions constantly repeated will produce a coma-like effect on my brain.
Still, these grand champions of sport relentlessly practiced the boring fundamentals and, when fused with their natural giftedness, the became unstoppable forces and are globally celebrated.
The seed of boredom is the belief that redundancy has no purpose.
But the rote action of learning a discipline is what takes us to the place of mastery, creativity, and improvisation.
When fundamentals become second nature they greatly elevate the experience of first nature. The once redundant action becomes the bedrock of heightened experience.
We yearn for the heightened experience that Christianity promises:
- Transformed life
- Freedom from sin
- Passion-filled purpose
- Peace in the storm
- Experiencing the presence of God
But we give up when we get bored.
But the boring is what makes it great!
The boring reading, writing, praying, and serving fuses the natural spiritual gifts that God gives to all Christians (the first nature) with the spiritual fundamentals necessary for all Christians to become like Christ.
When the habits of spiritual discipline become like second nature to us then we can walk into any church and never feel bored. Just like the great champions find joy in the repeating the scales or executing the perfect reverse pivot fade away, we can partake in the God's promises to his people because we put the work in.
A boring faith filled with repeition and grind has much more potential for greater heights than relying peppy music to make you momentarily feel better about yourself.
I choose a boring faith. How about you?