I have a confession to make.
I’m tired of going to church.
After four decades of weekly attendance I’m bored, bored with long sermons and the two uptempo/one slow song liturgy of our megachurch worship. I’m bored with gymnatoriums and rambling communion meditations and the tasteless cardboard bread pellets that follow. I’m bored with announcement times for ladies’ luncheons and small groups and choir sign-ups. I’m bored with the same cliched phrases in the same spoken prayers offered at the same routine times.
I know all the reasons to attend church services. But honestly, most Sundays at noon I think about other ways I could have spent the morning. Reading the New York Times with a pot of coffee, or hiking through the woods, or enjoying restorative sleep, or putzing around my kitchen trying a new recipe—these all seem more fun, productive, and restful than spending several hours at church.
It’s not about being entertained.
As Brett McCracken wrote in his great Wall Street Journal article, 70% of adults 18-22 aren’t leaving church because it’s not “cool” enough.
“As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real,” he writes. “If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it’s easy or trendy or popular. It’s because Jesus himself is appealing and what he says rings true.”
So I’m not looking for a slicker sermon series or a faux-hawked worship leader or designer coffee in the back lobby. And for those of you who are my parents (hi guys!), I’m not rejecting the Church universal or leaving the faith. I’m not even having a crisis of faith.
I’m just bored.
Because I also believe you make a commitment to one local church and invest in community with those believers long-term, I’m not going to start shopping for a new church. Besides, all those churches would also have long sermons and rambling prayers and worship leaders in skinny jeans. That’s the problem.
I also believe the writer of Hebrews was wise when he cautioned, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” I just don’t find weekly church attendance that encouraging anymore. In addition to the predictability of church services, in the last year I discovered plenty of people who attend church each weekend and also champion white supremacy, conspiracy theories, and selfishness over love of neighbor. In the south, church attendance is traditional. It is a habit, and one that doesn’t in itself produce life change.
So I’m sincerely unsure of the solution. Church, with two songs/greeting/awkward handshakes/one song/communion/offering/sermon/two songs/dismissal, is how our culture does Christianity. And I’m ready for something else.