Our kids used to give their worst indictment to anything by decreeing it and declaring it – boring.
For awhile we felt compelled to swoop in and save the day any time something was boring. We felt like nothing could ever ever be boring and they needed to always be stimulated and thrilled to be there.
We stopped doing that pretty quickly. We realized that their boring-ometer was way way off. And they also needed to learn how to deal with boring since it was going to crop up a lot in life. If we always staved off boring, our kids might in fact miss what is important. My daughter Anna was ready to go home from the U2 concert we took her to – she was tired and it boring.
One of my least favorite commercials out right now is the 8-9 year-old boy who extols all the places you can watch Cox on your iPad. You can watch it just about anywhere and everywhere. So you’ll never be bored and you’ll always have your shows and you never have to think even for a second. You’ll be entertained forever. Now I get there are times and places when you need your kids to be amused and to stop whining. But you have to be careful or real life will cease to lose any appeal at all and the iPad will rule the show forever.
The Apostles Creed isn’t very fun. The Lord’s Supper may not hold your attention span. A re-tuned hymn may not be repetitive enough. A 30-minute sermon from the Bible doesn’t have enough power point slides for you. We repeat too much. The gospel itself is too repetitive. We want to move on. We want to get online. We want to be distracted. We want to stop being bored.
Sometimes – perhaps oftentimes – the church is to blame. We’ve bored the kids and the parents and treated the things of God as too common. We should repent for that. We should be filled with earnest joy and enthusiasm, and create an environment where we can truly learn and engage.
But when we are doing formative things, we need to repeat those. We don’t move on. We stick with it. We drill them in. We try to create the place where the formation gets deep down inside. Where we know the Apostles Creed after all. Where we know the what and the why of the way the Lord speaks to us. That we understand that there is assurance of forgiveness for repentant sinners and that grace is offered through faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Just because it’s repetitive doesn’t mean it has to hit the death knell of boring. It doesn’t mean we need to shuttle our kids downstairs for something cooler, better, more fun, more interesting – less. It’s less than being incorporated into the people of God. It’s less than the full covenantal community. It’s less than being treated like a real person with a full brain and complex emotions.
We’d tell our kids that bored people are boring. We tried to help them to hang in there. We worked on imagination skills when they didn’t have something to keep their attention. We tried to drill in them that they could always draw and read a book if they were prepared enough to have just those things. We worked on a family worship service on Wednesdays in our homes where we’d sit and sing the hymns of the church so they’d know them better when we sang them on Sunday. We’d pray the prayers of the church so their eyes would light up when they knew it. We’d practice sitting still so we could all pay attention. They’d get gum when we arrived at the sermon, so they had something to look forward to and we could all listen more intently. Julie would draw pictures from the sermon on a notepad we brought, and then we’d try to remember what those pictures meant and how the sermon had gone.
I don’t think church has to be boring. And I don’t think we have to die inside if our kids think so. There are some boring things that happen, and some of them won’t be thrilling until later in life. Perhaps much later. Perhaps you haven’t realized them yet. We can all grow up and love Christ and his church.