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Boring Worship is Good for You

Mount Sinai

Many people, in our digital-game-riddled, virtual-world-possibilities, social-media-soaked lives, are distracting ourselves to death. And this is, in many places, affecting worship.

All the activities of daily and weekly living: doing laundry, washing dishes, vacuuming, and so forth – do we have an expectation that they will constantly give us emotional highs? The purpose is clean clothes, clean dishes, clean floors… If we happen to enjoy a particular occasion – that’s fine. The purpose of worship is sustaining and growing our relationship with God. If we happen to enjoy a particular occasion – that’s fine.

I am not saying that worship needs to be boring. The goal is not: “being boring”. But when I get up in the morning and pray Morning Prayer, or meditate, or whatever – feeling excitement, happiness, etc – that is not the goal.

I am not saying to leaders of worship that we ignore our context, including the people gathered (any reading of what I write should convince you of that). I am saying that our primary goal, as worship leaders, is not: entertaining the congregation.

And then we discover that there are scientifically-verified benefits to times of boredom:

The slippery slope of worshipping our narcissistic selves and of focusing on limbic stimulation may temporarily increase congregational size and provide temporary satisfaction, but I have known clergy who have had a break down as each worshiptainment event needed to be beaten for entertainment value next time. And, ultimately, the number of people attending dwindle: there are far better ways than worship if entertainment is the goal; our soul is not fed on entertainment alone…

In thinking about this topic, I recently came across this article by Jonathan Aigner: Worship Should Be Exceedingly Boring.

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image: my photo of Mount Sinai

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6 Responses to Boring Worship is Good for You

  1. Oh dear!

    I accept that worship might be boring, or even good for you, but I also hope that worship will challenge you. Because if you are really following the content of worship, you are absorbing the regular repetitive nature of the prayer and worship, you (hopefully) are continually be formed by its mix of scripture and liturgy more into the likeness of ChIrist.

    Worship should also refresh and enable to express your faith through the liturgy, through the confession and the creed, reinforcing your inner life with the light of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

    I don’t attend or lead worship to be bored, I do so to celebrate the incarnate life of our Saviour Jesus Christ, to thank God for his grace and mercy and to affirm my own personal belief and trust in God and to continue to build that relationship with his son, which is so important in my life, and hopefully to share it wider as we go out from our gathering to demonstrate it actively in how I live in the world.

    • Thanks, Ernie.

      I’m not sure why you begin with “Oh dear!”

      Everything you say I would affirm. The post explicitly stated, ‘The goal is not: “being boring”.’

      Blessings.

  2. I can’t fathom how some pastors deal with the stress of always having to one up themselves. Every week a different show (“worshiptainment”–fantastic description!) While I have found some sermons boring, I don’t believe I’ve ever found the overall worship boring– the common, expected elements are a welcome break, the readings change, the tenor of the service varies, and even when I don’t feel the sermon, the time to reflect and ponder–is quite exciting in its quiet way. Thanks for the link — a very un-boring read. :o)

    • Thanks, Stephen. I knew a priest who had a breakdown making each power-pointed, video-illustrated service at least up to the standard of the last one… Blessings.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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