Author: terrihallwd

Haven’t we all been here before?

It was a long night.

You have a long day ahead of you.

You have so many chores and tasks that are yet to be finished.

It’s beautiful outside – do you really want to waste part of your day inside when you could be out in this?

It’s gross outside – do you really want to get all dressed for church and go out in this?

There are a million different reasons that could produce this reaction, but ultimately, regardless of the stimuli, you just…aren’t feeling church today.

You just don’t feel like going.

Haven’t we all been there before?

There are some times we just don’t feel like going to church. Sure, we’ve got some things to do and reasons to just stay home, but those are just the presenting issues.

That’s what we’ll tell the folks who missed us or that’s what we’ll tell ourselves in the back and forth of our own minds but really, when it comes down to it, the real issue is not what needs to be done. The real issues are not the chores, the weather, or the various other responsibilities vying for our affection and attention and time. The real issue is that we just don’t feel like going.

It’s funny, because while “I don’t feel like it” is a totally unacceptable line of reasoning when it comes from our kids trying to get their way out of cleaning or eating their veggies or being nice to their siblings…it somehow becomes completely acceptable when it comes to us reasoning our way out of church.

But don’t get me wrong…

I hear you.

I get it.

As a pastor, I feel that too.

If I’m being really honest with you, there are times I sit in my car for a few extra moments and take a deep breath before exiting my car and entering the church because I’m just not ready yet.

My head isn’t in the right place.

My heart isn’t in the right place.

I just don’t feel like going.

Yes, even pastors feel this way, too.

And yet, I get out – because regardless of what I may feel, I know I’m in the right place among the right people.

You see, we say this all the time at church but it’s worth saying here as well:

Feelings are real but they are not necessarily reality.

Feelings are true but they are not necessarily truth.

You have every right to feel what you feel but that doesn’t mean your feelings are right; it doesn’t mean they are an accurate assessment of the deep needs of your heart. They are valid even when they aren’t right.

Currently, there is a group of us at the church fasting on Wednesdays because we want to see breakthrough and awakening in our church and city.

We want to see God move.

We want to see our hunger for God grow.

We want to see our community transformed by God’s grace.

We want to see our neighbors experience the power of God’s love.

We want to see God move like never before.

So we’re praying and fasting together.

Now, before you go thinking more of me than you should, let’s be clear: fasting is not a discipline I enjoy.

I like food.

I like food too much.

I get cranky when I don’t eat.

So as you can imagine, it’s great to be around me when I’m fasting.

This past Wednesday, I decided to keep track of all the feelings that arose during my fast. Here were some of them…

  • I felt like fasting was stupid.
  • I felt like fasting was a waste of time.
  • I felt like God would understand if I ate a small lunch. (I was at a seminar and we all ate lunch together, so while they ate I had to explain repeatedly why I skipped our meal.)
  • I felt bad for feeling that fasting was stupid and a waste of time.

These are just a handful of the feelings I felt last Wednesday during our fast, and every one of these feelings pointed to the same conclusion: break the fast.

Just eat. It’s no big deal.

And yet, I knew in my heart that God had called us to prayer and fasting as a community.

If I yielded to my feelings – feelings that were real, true and seemed very much legitimate in the moment – I would be settling for something less than what I believed God wanted to do in and through me.

God has given us feelings and for that we must certainly take them into consideration, but I’m afraid that far too often, we give in to how we feel without really wrestling with why we feel what we feel, and why feeling that emotion and enduring through it might just be necessary.

I’ve got to believe there’s a reason why immediately after Peter’s confession of Christ in Matthew 16, Jesus follows it up with a word about self-denial.

Shortly after Peter declares that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” Jesus tells the disciples, “If anyone wants to come after me, they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.”

The call to self-denial certainly applies to more than just our feelings, but I am more and more convinced that at the very least, it must include our feelings.

As followers of Christ, we are called to follow God together, in community, so that through relationship with God and each other, we can grow our faith, deepen our hope, and encourage each other on toward love and good works (Hebrews 10:19-25).

Will there be days we don’t feel up to going to church? Will there be days we just don’t feel like it?

Absolutely – but we are not called to follow our feelings; we are called to follow Christ.

First and foremost, we are not called to be followers of our feelings; we are called to be followers of Christ.

There will be times when the call of God upon our lives and the way we feel about that call are not in alignment.

In those moments, we will need to decide who we will serve, who we will follow and who we will love.

Our feelings are real, but they are not necessarily reality. They are true but not necessarily truth. However, unlike our feelings which may be true but not truth, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Our feelings come and go; let’s not allow our faith to follow the same pattern. Let’s come together to push past how we might feel at any given moment so we can be followers of Jesus – not our feelings – for the glory of God and the sake of the world.

As I mentioned yesterday, for many people who are still Christians but have walked away from the church, that departure was deeply connected to being…

…hurt…

…disappointed…

…betrayed…

…abandoned…

…by the church – by the very community that was supposedly formed around the name of Jesus for the sake of the world.

If this is you, I’m sure these descriptions don’t even come close to capturing the full array of hurt and pain you’ve experienced.

And for that, I am deeply sorry.

I hear you.

I see you.

And to an extent, I am you.

Please don’t mishear me: I don’t know how you feel. Your experience is your experience and I will not pretend to know what you’ve been through or assume that my scars look like yours.

But as a pastor (and long before I was a pastor as well), I have tasted the bitter sting of broken people who call the church their home.

There have been moments in my life, both before and after I entered pastoral ministry, where I was ready to walk away from the church because the church had become the greatest source of anxiety and hurt in my life.

There were times when the last place I wanted to be was in a church.

There were times when the last group of people I wanted to be with were Christians.

My purpose here is not to air out my grievances (though that might feel good sometimes!), but I will say this: if your pain is as real as mine was, then I can absolutely understand why you’d feel like walking away and giving up on the church.

That being said, I want to take a risk and push you a bit. I don’t want to minimize your pain or sidestep the hurt you hold, but as someone who has tasted and seen the church’s unrivaled capacity for beauty and its devastating capacity to hurt and harm, I can honestly say the good far outweighs the bad.

Now before I go on, if you’re still reading this, it is possible that you might not be ready for some of these ideas just yet. The duration of healing is directly proportional to the injury that was inflicted. A paper cut stings with surprising intensity but it will be gone in a matter of days. A broken arm hurts immensely but it will not be better in a matter of days. The duration of healing for a broken arm is significantly longer than that of a paper cut. I’m not sure where you’re at in your pain or healing, so please know that I am writing as graciously as I can and as sensitively as I know how. I mean no offense here and if some of what you read here feels more hurtful than helpful, just know that is not my heart at all. The spectrum of pain and healing is so wide and varied, and so I will do my best to be as generous and gracious as I can with my words. I hope you hear them with all the love I intend for them.

So if you’re still here, let’s walk a bit further together:

First, we need to acknowledge that the more power someone or something has, the greater its capacity for good and for evil will be. For example, when a person as an affair on their spouse, that is terrible and heartbreaking, regardless of who they are. However, when a pastor has an affair, the pain and ramifications of that terrible, heartbreaking decision are exponentially increased. Not only are the spouse, family, friends and possibly children hurt, but now an entire Church community has been betrayed. The impact of the infidelity dramatically increases because we expect a pastor to behave differently. The role of pastor comes with power and authority. And not just any power and not just any authority – Godly power, Godly authority. But not only do we hold Christian leaders to higher standards; we tend to expect this of Christians as a whole. We’re new creatures, right? Shouldn’t that translate into new living? And because we expect this of church leaders and Christians in general, we expect this of churches as well. This means when a church, Christian or Christian leader disappoints us, fails us, or hurts us…because of their power, position, and authority…the pain from that injury is exponentially increased.

This is understandable and fair, but we would do well to remember that while the pain or injury caused by a Christian, church or pastor increases significantly, they are still people. They are not perfect – they are struggling under the weight of sin, learning to trust God’s grace and wrestling with day-to-day realities just like the rest of us. Christians hurt people because Christians are people and as the saying goes – hurt people hurt people.

Does this excuse them (us) for what we do? Not at all. But what would it look like for us to extend the very grace we wished we would have received, rather than perpetuating the very hurt and pain they caused us by withdrawing from the community? No church is perfect, but not every church is that church, and not every Christian is that Christian.

Rather than focusing on what that person did or did not do to (or for) you, what if you focused more on what God has done to and for us? What might happen if, rather than withdrawing indefinitely, we chose to extend what we received from God rather than withholding what we did not receive from people?

Second, it is important to remember that no church, absolutely no church, has ever been or ever will be perfect. We have a tendency to idolize the church of Acts. They had all things in common! There was no poor among them! They devoted themselves to God and each other in prayer, teaching, fellowship and communion! Don’t get me wrong, we have much to learn from the early church, but we must not deceive ourselves into thinking the early church was perfect. Just go read Acts 5-6 and you’ll see there was nothing perfect about the early church.

On top of that, we have plenty of recorded conflicts within the early church. Paul had it out with Peter. Paul had it out with Mark. Paul had it out with Barnabas. (Hmm… are you seeing a pattern here?) The Jewish believers had conflicts with the Gentile (non-Jewish) believers and if you read the book of 1 Corinthians, you’ll see some conflicts within that church that would make you blush.

Inevitably, when you gather different people from different cultures with different values and different worldviews under one roof around the name of Jesus, it’s going to be messy and there’s going to be conflict.

What’s interesting to me, though, is that in many ways, conflict is a sign of our realest relationships. My guess is you treat your family or closest friends differently than you treat your coworkers. Why is that? Because the more real, the more true, the more authentic the relationship, the more of you (the real you) those people get. And when everyone is free to be their sin-stained, grace-covered, messy, beautiful selves, there’s going to be conflict.

This definitely isn’t true of every pain and hurt caused by the church or Christians, but what if for some of us, the very thing we are running from was the very evidence that strangers were becoming a beautiful, broken, messy family around the name of Jesus?

With that in mind, we’ll end on this last thought.

When I get to be me and you get to be you, when we get to be our truest selves in community, it’s going to be messy at best and you know there’s going to be conflict.

But I am more and more convinced that not all conflict is bad.

Sometimes conflict is the healthiest thing we can have.

Any The Office fans out there? Do you remember the moment-maker in Pam and Jim’s relationship when their marriage was seriously on the rocks?

It was when Pam asked Jim to stay and ‘fight’ – to engage in conflict, rather than running from it.

Far too many of us grew up in homes where conflict looked and sounded and felt terribly unhealthy. Many of us learned that when the going gets tough, the tough get going – in other words, they leave.

And many of us have done that with the church – faithful followers of Jesus have up and left, convinced that they can follow Jesus better if they leave the church behind.

But I have a suspicion that there is a healthier way to view conflict, especially conflict within the church.

In Matthew 18:20, there is a verse we Christians just love to misuse.

Jesus promises, “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am among them.”

How many church services have kicked off their gatherings with the passionate proclamation of this promise?!

Maybe I’m being too harsh on the whole misuse piece, but if you really read the text in context, this promise is actually located within a whole conversation about conflict.

Jesus is teaching his followers about forgiveness and after giving them a process of how to gather together and handle conflict and brokenness within their communities, Jesus promises that whenever they gather, He is right there with them, even in the midst of conflict.

How crazy is that?

Jesus says whenever broken, beautiful, wounded, wonderful people gather in His name, even around conflict, the presence of Jesus gathers with them.

What if conflict provides us a way of experiencing God’s presence and power in a way nothing else can?

Think about it: conflict, for it to be healthy, for it to be redemptive and restorative, requires love – real, Christ-like love. It requires patience and kindness and humility and compassion – all the hallmarks of the love Jesus showed and continues to show us.

And if Jesus commanded us to love each other because our love for one another would be the key to helping the world see Him in us, maybe what they need to see is us in loving conflict with each other, because when even just a couple Christians gather together even amidst their conflict, Jesus is there.

Maybe that’s how the world will see Him in us – as people loving one another even in conflict, with the presence of Jesus there amongst us.

Think about it: the incarnation itself is about God becoming flesh and not just entering our world in some general, abstract sense, but entering our world – our mess – our brokenness – our conflict – with a depth of love capable of changing it, and transforming us from the inside out.

Think about it: when we invite God to reign and rule in and over our hearts, God enters our mess once again. He enters our inner brokenness and conflict, and pierces through the darkest parts of our hearts with love.

There is no conflict the love of God cannot break through.

He broke through our world.

He can break through our hearts.

And I have to believe that if we’ll allow Him to today, He can break in and break through your pain and hurt, and into all the conflict we see and feel, both in and towards the church.

So to those of you who have been hurt, betrayed, silenced or abandoned by the church – whether it was a brick and mortar church, a Christian leader, a group of Christians, or someone who claimed to be a Christian – I am sorry – but please, please, please…don’t give up on the church.

God hasn’t given up on the church, and God hasn’t given up on you.

Let’s lean into this beautiful mess of a family we call church together.

“I can worship God anywhere.”

“I don’t have to be at a church to be the church.”

“I can do it on my own.”

To some degree, this is true.

You can worship God anywhere.

You don’t have to be in a church building to do church or be the church.

But where we go wrong is on that next point…

“I can do it on my own.”

That is false.

That is a lie.

You cannot do life with God on your own without making your life with God something less than what God wants for you.

Let me offer you some reasons to consider:

First, God exists in community. We call this community the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father but yet they are all God. Confused yet? Good…me too. While the concept of the Trinity stretches our understanding well beyond what we’re comfortable with, I think we can all agree that at the very least, if God exists in community, it seems pretty consistent to think that God’s people would do life with Him in community, too.

Second, when we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, it’s interesting to note that Jesus rarely called individuals to follow Him. In most instances, He called pairs of people (think James and John, Peter and Andrew). And when Jesus did call individuals, He called them into relationship with Himself and the people who were already following Him. When Matthew was invited to follow Jesus, he was joining Jesus and Peter, James, Andrew, and John…these guys were already there. So it wasn’t just Matthew and Jesus…it was Matthew and Peter and John and crowds of others.

Third, if we think we can do life with God on our own, without the help and community of others, we are literally doing something Jesus Himself did not do. In Luke 4:16, it says that Jesus went to the Synagogue, as was his custom. This word custom in Greek is the word “etho” – it’s where the word “ethos” comes from. Ethos is the central character of someone or something. It’s who they are or what they’re most about. Ethos is about the heart – what’s most central to a person. You might say ethos is what makes them, them. Jesus’s ethos – His custom, culture, tradition, centering reality – was committed, consistent participation in the life of a local synagogue, which will eventually give way to and shape for Christians as the church.

If you think you can do life with God on your own, you’re literally doing something Jesus Himself refused to do.

But I get what many of you are thinking right now.

“I’ve been hurt by the church.”

“Community is hard…it’s messy…”

“Christians are hypocrites.”

“This church wasn’t there for me.”

Sadly, this list could go on and on…

I’m going to speak more into this tomorrow, but for today, I will say this:

You are right. It is messy. The church can be the most beautiful entity on the planet, but its potential for good exponentially elevates its capacity to hurt and harm. When we are hurt by people and places that are meant to heal, not harm, those wounds are often the most painful.

Perhaps that’s why Paul takes such time and measure to discuss the importance of love – real, deep, agape love – in 1 Corinthians 13.

This text is about relationships, yes, but probably not in the way we think.

It’s a great wedding scripture, but it’s not about marriage directly.

It’s a great verse for lovers, but it’s not about romantic love directly.

It’s actually about what it takes to love one another well as followers of Jesus…in the church.

The church in Corinth (who Paul was writing to) was messed up.

Some of the things they were doing to each other and with each other was wrong on so many levels.

But they were trying, and Paul knew that the only thing – the ONLY thing – that could lead them through the messes they’d made in that church was love for God and love for each other.

Love is patient, because we can all be pretty difficult at times.

Love is kind, because sometimes we’re going to want to yell and scream at one another and there’s got to be a better way.

Love keeps no record of wrongs, because sometimes we drop the ball on the patience and kindness piece and end up yelling and screaming at each other.

Love is…well…you get the point.

Yes, it would be way less messy if we stopped gathering together and just did life with God by ourselves, on our own.

It would be way less messy, but on our own, we cannot fulfill the command of Jesus in John 13:34:

“‘A new command I give you – love one another as I have loved you. By this all people will know you are my disciples: that you love one another.'”

Did you catch that?

It’s not how much Scripture we memorize.

It’s not how vast our theological knowledge is.

It’s not how moral we are.

These things aren’t bad; they just aren’t the thing that Jesus singles out as the one thing that can get the world’s attention like nothing else…

It is our love for one another that reveals Christ to the world like nothing else can.

And last time I checked, you can’t love one another the way Christ has loved you if there are no others around you to love.

Are there risks to Christian community? Yes. Does it get messy and complicated and difficult? You bet.

Is it worth it?

Jesus seemed to think so…and that’s enough for me.

I get it. Trust me, I do.

You’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all busy.

Between kids, work, family and other responsibilities…not to mention trying to make time for a date night every once in a while…our schedules can be CRAZY!

For some of us, we wear our busyness like a badge of honor, as if the more we do, the more we are.

I’m not sure we should be proud of this…

I think we need to rethink how we think about busyness…if we can find the time, of course.

You see, the other day I saw a man walking a dog.

Actually, that’s not true.

I saw a dog walking a man.

The dog was an absolute beast of an animal and try as this guy may, the dog, not the man, was in charge of that walk.

I think many of us might feel the same way about our schedules.

We’re holding the leash, but the beast we call our schedules is really leading the way.

And that’s a problem.

I meet so many well-intended Christians who claim to not have ‘time’ for church, but…well…how do I say this?

Yes, you do. You have time.

You have the same amount of time as everyone else.

We’ve all got what we’ve all got.

60 seconds per minute.

60 minutes per hour.

24 hours per day.

7 days per week.

We all have the same amount of time in a day.

What’s differs from person to person is how we spend that time.

We don’t choose how much time there is in a day, but we do choose how to spend the time in that day.

Technology has promised to make our days easier, to make our use of time more efficient, but most of us are busier than ever. The myth of technology was that as advancements increase, we’d have more and more free time to enjoy, but look around – do you really see more joy?

Is this what freedom, joy, and peace really look like?

Rather than being increasingly set free, many of us feel more trapped by our schedules than ever before.

And for some reason, in this chaotic frenzy of rushed routines, one of the first things to go is committed,consistent participation in the life of a local church.

In many ways, this decrease in participation is actually an abuse of grace. Yes, you read that correctly – I know it may sound harsh, but I believe it is true. Many of us (myself included) have become slaves to lesser things – in this case, our schedules. Rather than hiding behind the garden’s fig leaves, we’re hiding behind the grace, the kindness, the goodness of God.

“God is good,” we say! “God understands.” “God is patient and kind and knows we’re busy,” we tell ourselves.

There is grace!

And to that I give a resounding, “Yes! Yes! Yes! Amen!All true!”

But while God understands the busyness of your schedule, your heart, your soul, and your deep needs, those needs cannot possibly be cared for by the allure of isolation or in the hurried demands of our overcommitted schedules.

Yes, there is grace, but when grace becomes the shrubbery we hide behind to encourage a way of living that is hurried and rushed and broken and contrary to the way of Jesus, a way disconnected from the people of

God, we have distorted God’s good gift of grace.

Just because God understands your busyness doesn’t mean your busyness is good for your heart, your soul, or your family. And on top of all that, what does busyness that takes us away from church, away from each other, away from worship, away from community, say to the rest of the world?

Let’s bring it in closer…

What does it communicate to our children?

I hear many well-intentioned parents lament their absence from the life of a local church for the sake of their children.

This is good, but it is incomplete. Yes, your children need it, but you need it too. Do not think your age somehow exempts your heart from the deep needs of faith, hope and love that can only be nurtured in the context of Christian community (Hebrews 10:19-25).

In fact, I am more and more convinced that our children don’t just need us to want this for them; our children need us to want this – need this, even – for ourselves.

It’s like telling our children to eat their veggies and then them watching us not eat ours. The message is conflicting.

You don’t age out of your need for God. You also don’t age out of your need for the church, a place and people where faith, hope and love can be grown, strengthened and unleashed.

You need this.

You need us.

We need you.

You have the time.

In fact, you don’t have the time to not make the time for this.

In the Gospels, Jesus was often scolded by the religious elite for his apparent abuse of the Sabbath day (a day each week in which the people of God were commanded to not do work, and rest).

The problem was, many people couldn’t agree on which work was in and which was out.

For Jesus, the Sabbath, this beautiful gift of a day in which we rest and pray and play in response to the loving command of God, was the perfect day to heal people and care for others.

When the religious authorities rebuked him for healing on the Sabbath (for them healing was work and work was forbidden so healing was forbidden on the Sabbath), Jesus pushed back, saying to them…

“The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.”

Maybe we need to start seeing our schedules the way Jesus saw Sabbath.

In the same way the Sabbath was created for you, by God, to care for you and give you a rest, what would it look like to see your schedule as something created for you, to care for you, rather than something to control and exhaust you?

What would need to go?

What needs to change?

When your schedule is out of control, it is in control of you, and when we are mastered by anything other than God, even something as ‘good’ as our schedules, we become slaves to something unworthy of our allegiance and loyalty.

It is for freedom Christ set us free (Galatians 5:1). God’s freed people have no business being mastered by anything other than Jesus – not even our schedules.

Jesus is Lord, not your schedule.

In fact, after Jesus put the Pharisees in their place and reminded them that the Sabbath was created for us, not us for the Sabbath, Jesus takes it a step further. Here’s the full verse:

“And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).

Jesus is Lord.

He is Lord of the Sabbath.

And as followers of Jesus, he ought to be Lord of our schedules as well.

This isn’t about guilt.

This isn’t about shame.

We all have things that come up from time to time that are beyond our control.

But this is about growing and taking control of our schedules so they don’t take control of us.

Let’s learn to teach our schedules to kneel at the feet of Jesus – together.

-Bobby

Flashback to fall 2006…We had over 100 students crammed into the youth center (EPICenter) for a weekend retreat. It was loud, chaotic and none of our planning survived the first hour of our time together with the students. It was a glorious, beautiful mess.

When it came time for the first service element, the students detached almost instantly. Without the thrill of dodgeball and other group games, the students seemed ready to revolt. We were used to having a boisterous crowd but this was different – they were belligerent, defiant even.

When the adults gathered that night to reflect on the evening we named the spirit in the room we’d felt that night: boredom. The students treated the service as if it was boring.

The next morning we decided to name what had happened the night before.

The speaker that morning began with these words:

Only boring people get bored.

A hush fell over the sleep deprived students.

An appropriately timed silence let the weight of the words sink in.

You could feel the weight of those words stirring up a variety of reactions in the room – defensiveness, confusion, conviction.

Only boring people get bored.

He spoke the words again to ensure the students understood there was no judgement or anger in the words. At their core they were invitational but it would be up to the students to decide how they heard them.

Only boring people get bored…

It was an awesome retreat.

So yeah, we’ve all been bored in church before.

Many of us have sat there wondering…hoping…waiting…longing for the preacher to stop preaching, for the worship leader to bring the bridge to a decisive end, for the service to finally be over.

We’ve all been bored in church before.

However, are we sure our boredom is a sign that what we’re experiencing is actually boring?

What if our boredom says something more about us than it does about the service?

What if our boredom says more about the interpretation of our experience than it does of the thing we’re experiencing?

What if only boring people get bored?

Something I am more and more convinced of is our culture’s failure to do the necessary, next level work of interpreting our experience and emotions well. I’m not sure we really take the time to ask why – why we feel what we feel, why we think what we think, or why we do what we do.

In this case, have we ever stopped to ask, “Why am I bored in church”?

In seminary, one of the first things we’re taught is how to study the Bible. And one of the ways we’re taught to do this is to read and interpret the scriptures together in community. Think of the Bible like a wet rag (I know, I know… that sounds like a terrible image). If you want to get the water out of the rag, you got to squeeze it. But anyone can squeeze it and get a little water out. If you really want to get the water out, you’ve got to twist it and turn it. But there’s only so much you can do on your own. If you really, really want to get the water out, you need to hold one side of the rag while someone else holds the other and then you can squeeze, twist and turn it and you’ll get water out that you could never squeeze out on your own.

That’s a really simple and unnecessarily long way of saying if we’re going to interpret the Bible well; we’ve got to learn to read the Bible not only by ourselves, for ourselves, but together, in community with others and for the sake of others.

And the simple reason for this is we can’t see what we can’t see and we can’t know what we don’t know. We all have different experiences and our brains and minds function differently and reading with others allows us to see the Bible differently. If we need each other to interpret the Bible better, is it possible that we need each other to interpret our own experiences and emotions?

What if our culture’s fascination with the individual has actually prevented us from truly understanding ourselves – especially something like why boredom?

For example, Fred Rogers (yes, Mr. Rogers) once went to chapel at Asbury Seminary here on the Orlando Campus. Before Mr. Rogers became, well, Mr. Rogers, he attended seminary himself and eventually became an ordained Presbyterian minister. When Rogers came into the chapel, it was hard to ignore his presence so they asked him if there was anything he’d like to share with this group of future pastors.
Rogers went on to share how in seminary, he was being taught to preach and as a part of that, he had to listen to sermons and critique them. One day he sat and listened to a preacher preach and he just could find nothing of worth in the sermon. There were countless things Rogers critiqued that could have been better and different. The sermon concluded and as it did, Mr. Rogers noticed a woman next to him weeping. He asked if she was alright and she informed him that she had heard exactly what she had needed to hear that day – God had spoken to her through the message.

Rogers was struck – the very thing he’d rejected and found nothing of worth in this woman was encouraged and strengthened by.

And it changed him.

On his own, the interpretation of his experience said this was boring, pointless, a waste of time…

But together, in community, his experience was interpreted differently. God was there. This woman heard and saw what he missed.

The preacher was not the problem – his heart, his motive, his purposes for being there was.

He was so preoccupied that he missed what God was up to in the moment.

Have we all been bored in church before? Sure we have. I know I have. But I can’t help but wonder if our boredom is as much a reflection upon the thing we’re experiencing or upon our own the nature and condition of our own hearts.

It’s probably a little of both.

Maybe we need to stop asking “Why is church so boring?” and start asking, “Why do I get so bored?”

Only boring people get bored.

Let’s be less boring together.

-Bobby