I sat in church recently with my 4-year-old daughter. As worship was about to begin, she looked me in the eye and said – in that whiny “4 going on 14” voice – “Church is SO boring!” Oh, no child! Why would you say that here, now! People can hear you! You are only supposed to say sweet, adorable things that I can easily incorporate into a writing each week. What am I supposed to do with this?!?
I quickly sputtered out, “Oh, you like church honey!” just before the music picked up and the Pastor began his stroll to the front of the sanctuary, ending our time for conversation.
The funny thing is – she really DOES like going to church! My little social butterfly hugs absolutely everyone she meets, runs up to the front for the children’s message and dances to every song we sing. Sometimes I’ll catch myself scolding her for enjoying the music TOO much! (Where, exactly, is that line between joyful singing and being a distraction??)
Sure, some other things happen at worship too… things like scripture readings, sermons and prayers! But these important components of worship rarely engage a young child.
OK, Pastors – stop reading for just one moment…. Sometimes church IS boring! Sometimes the message makes no sense, and I cannot relate to the scriptures. Sometimes we sing a song which I do not like. Just like my 4-year-old, I’ll find myself whining in my head – “this is boring!”
When this happens, I have missed the point of worship. Worship is not about me alone, but about building up the larger body of Christ. A song or reading or message may not speak to me, but it could deeply impact the person sitting next to me.
Or – if I find myself bored, perhaps it is I not actively listening for the divine message.
Only a day or two after my daughter’s shocking announcement, I had the opportunity to have this conversation with her at home. We could just talk – ask questions, be honest. We discussed going to church, and again she said: Church is boring! Now more prepared, I could engage this statement in a different way. I ask “Why do we go to church?” We talked about how church helps us to learn about and then to share God’s love. We listed the many parts of church she does like. I told her that even grown-ups have parts of worship they do not like – and that’s OK. We are all different and God reaches us in different ways.
Though limited by my active 4-year-old’s attention span, it was a good discussion – one I know we will have again! (A 4-year-old’s memory is short, and my daughter loves to whine!) But that’s OK – I need to be reminded that worship is not about me! When community gathers to praise, grow and discern, the Spirit moves throughout and within each moment. Sometimes it might seem “boring” – yet the Spirit is still at work!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Psalm 150:6