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September 19, 2011

I supposed I deserved it. I was foolish enough to say while I was preaching, “Do you think church boring?” The precocious 6th grader that was visiting that morning stole the show by saying out loud what most of us have thought was too dangerous to say, especially in church. Without missing a nanosecond, she publically declared, “YEAH!” For the next few seconds, I was the audience and everyone was listening to her.

I chose not take this personally. It reminded me of my own adolescent journey through church. Back then, we endured the boredom on pine pews. At least we now provide padded pews for the endurance we expect.

What struck me is that we tend to think of people tuning out if they are bored. However, if this young visitor was not paying attention, she never could have taken command of the scene as she did. Can we be bored and listen at the same time?

Forgive me if this sounds a little vocationally defensive, but why is church one of the places where children get such a weighted vote. I readily acknowledge that we need to seek to keep children meaningfully engaged in our church life. Just making them endure church will not produce spiritual growth. However, never bringing them back to church because they announce they are bored will all but doom any hope of spiritual growth.

Imagine what children would never do if we stopped every time they said, “I’m bored.” That would be the end of math and reading. We’d never stand in line at the fair to ride a roller coaster. We’d never take another family trip across town, let along across country. We’d never visit grandma and grandpa again. We’d never wait in the doctor’s office for a disease preventing vaccination.

If we listen for God to speak while we are sitting in church, we may actually find the Spirit ‘boring’ into the depths of our souls. And that kind of a boring experience will transform our lives!

 Maybe we should all pray to be bored in church.

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