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.
image: my photo of Mount Sinai