WHY WORSHIP SERVICES ARE BORING, by Mike Glenn
People who know me know I love college football and I love one college football team more than any other. Growing up in Alabama during the time of legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, I have been a serious fan of the Crimson Tide since childhood. Friends know not to call me if the Crimson Tide is on TV because I won’t answer the phone. Friends who are watching the game with me know to give me plenty of space because great plays will make me jump to my feet and pump my arms violently in the air. Yes, furniture has been broken and friends inadvertently pushed over in my enthusiasm.
Bad plays by the Tide get the opposite, but as intense, of a response. I may throw something at the television. I may stomp off to another room in disgust. And if we lose, well, I’m going to need a few days to recover. I know, I’m a grown man. I shouldn’t act this way. I guess that’s true, but I would respond to you by saying you don’t understand. You just don’t know what’s at stake.
I’m perfectly normal when I watch other teams play. If Notre Dame is playing USC, I’ll loving watching the game. I’ll enjoy it and I won’t get upset one time. I can watch Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia, Michigan and the rest of college football and remain perfectly calm.
Why? Simple. There’s nothing at stake for me.
I thought about this as I left our Sunday services this past weekend. We had a perfectly good worship service. The choir and orchestra were great. The worship band in our other services was good as well. I hit all the points in my sermon and was funny in the process. I received the usual feedback. “Nice sermon.” “Good job.”
And I received the usual criticisms, “The service was too long.” “the music was too loud.” “I didn’t get anything out of the service today.”
Honestly, one Sunday, I fully expect the back row to hold up numbered cards giving the service a rating like an Olympic event. Throw out the high and low scores and take the average of the rest.
Here’s your score. Try to do better next week.
For some reason, people sitting in the sanctuary don’t think you can see them from the pulpit, but I can. I see them yawn. I see them stretch and blink their eyes when they stand up to sing. I see them check their watch when I’m halfway through my sermon.They’re bored. I know that.
Here’s what else I know – It’s not my fault.
And why isn’t it my fault? Aren’t I the one who’s in charge of worship?
No, I’m not.
Theologically speaking, the Holy Spirit is in charge of worship. The Spirit draws us into worship. The Spirit calls out our worship and makes known the revelation of God in Christ to which we respond in worship.
Practically speaking, each of us is responsible for our own worship. We are responsible for getting our hearts and minds focused for true worship. We’re responsible to bring an acceptable offering, to be ready to confess our sins and respond in worship to the moment when God reveals Himself.
We should bring testimonies to be shared and burdens to be laid down. Worship should matter. Worship should be something we can’t wait to get to because when we come away, our lives will be different. Worship should matter. And here’s the real issue for most of us. For most people, there’s nothing at stake during a worship service.
Sunday is nothing more than the day before Monday. No, you don’t have to worship on Sunday. Yes, you can worship anytime, anywhere.
But when worship matters, when something is at stake, you have to be with God’s people. There are moments so big you can’t praise God loudly enough all by yourself. You’ll find yourself almost willing to stand up in the congregation and shout, “Sing with me! See what the Lord has done!”
Sometimes, the burden is so great, you need your brothers and sisters to sing for you. You hurt so deeply, other people have to cry for you. There are times when life hits you so hard, you can’t even believe by yourself. You’ll need the congregation to believe for you.
Worship leaders can bring you songs to express your worship.
The liturgy can bring you a form to guide your worship.
But we can’t bring you worship.
Worship is a response to an encounter with the Living God. Anything else and you’re just going through the motions.
So, the next time you’re walking out of church thinking how boring the service was, just remember, it may be your own fault.