No one is saying it, but someone has to: There are a lot of bored Christians out there.
What is American Evangelicalism's fascination with materialism and consumption? It's a cure for boredom. Why are the charismatics traveling like nomads in search of the next "spiritual" high? They're bored. Why are so many leaving their traditional churches in favor of postmodern or Emergent ones? They are looking for an escape from the boring.
The monster bestseller Wild at Heart by John Eldredge has at its very core the premise that Christian men are bored. Boredom leads to dissatisfaction and, eventually, the fruit of boredom, sin. On this he won't get any arguments from me, but is the solution to go hunt grizzlies with nothing more than a pointy stick? Is life simply about rescuing damsels in distress?
No, there is something more.
I think the "problem that dare not speak its name," the issue that so many Christians are struggling with, is a lack of connection to the Lord. Our churches are filled with people that simply are not experiencing the fullness of the Lord Jesus.
But why is this? What have we done to create a generation of disconnected and bored Christians?
The reasons are many, but five stand out:
1. Leadership. We like to think that everyone in America is an individual, but Jesus' assessment that we are like sheep has not skipped over this country. People still need good role models and leaders. But much of the leadership of churches today can't help people get to that next level of discipleship simply because they have never been there themselves. There has not been a true revival in America in almost a hundred years, and despite a few local revivals (that sadly stayed local), virtually no one pastoring a church today has seen a real revival. Subsequently, we don't know what one looks like, nor have we experienced the deep, abiding presence of Christ that falls on those who have been set aflame by revival. The people can't get there unless the leaders out there show us the map. Leaders, guide us!
2. Anti-supernaturalism. Some say that we are in a postmodern age, while others contend that modernism still reigns in the churches in America. Regardless, we still live in a largely secular world that has driven supernaturalism out of Western churches. If we do not believe that prayer can drive mountains into the sea, then we will absolutely never see that occur. What happened to our faith? Does anyone still believe that if we abide in Him and He in us, we can ask anything in His name and it will be done? I'm not talking Word of Faith craziness here, but simply taking the Lord at His word. What will the Lord do through us if we believe Him for the miraculous not just when miracles are needed, but at the core of our beliefs?
3. Love for the world. 1 John 2:15 has never changed:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
We can't get blood from a stone. If the world has calcified our hearts, then we need that heart of flesh restored in us, a heart that burns with love for Jesus—and Him as Lord over all we are. Yet why are so many Christians absolutely no different than the worldly? Sadly, this appeasement of culture by Christians and the culture's inevitable penetration of the churches in this country is being preached with greater intensity as a GOOD thing. How foolish! That Christians look and act no different from unbelievers is shameful. We are the aroma of Christ, not the foul stench of death! Instead, we have become like rats with electrodes wired to their brains, gratified by every push of the entertainment lever, a new wave of stimulation washing over our addled minds. How sad!
4. Higher criticism of the Bible. It's been more than a hundred years since German higher criticism washed up on the shores of America and crawled into our churches unannounced. The damage this has done to the authority of the Bible in the minds of the average person, Christian or not, is incalculable. When Christians don't believe the Bible speaks to every part of a man, nor that it is authoritative for learning and correction, what basis do we have for anything we say or do? How can the revealed truth of Scripture capture anyone's heart if even our church leaders don't truly believe it?
5. Time. We live in an age in which everything presses us for time. People are harried in an era labeled as The Age of Leisure. How then can we expect to reach that sacred place of standing before God on five minutes of prayer dashed off as we rush to work? In other times, people would be travailing on their knees for hours before the Throne of Grace, but does anyone reading this know anyone like that anymore? (Not only do I not know anyone like that, but far worse, I can't count myself as one of those people even though I once was.) But there is no instant discipleship. Those of us who seek it only find boredom when we fail to break through to God. Our lack of time committed to Christ can only lead us to lament our sorry states, questioning if God is even there.
And so we are bored. Bored with the Bible. Bored with our church meetings. Bored with the Lord. How that must break His heart! All eternity, the entirety of His own Self, ready to be revealed to those who press on, and yet so precious few do.
One thing I do know—those who press on to know the Lord are never bored. I pray that for all of us. Let us press on to know the Lord and put boredom behind us.
7 thoughts on “Lord of the Bored?”
I think that people are bored simply because they are not growing in their walk with Christ, if they even began one. Keep up the great work!
Absolutely spot-on commentary, Dan. Thank you so much. The problem of “boredom” isn’t nearly as vexing as the roots of the phenomenon.
“How can the revealed truth of Scripture capture anyone’s heart if even our church leaders don’t truly believe it?” What a sad state of affairs and how true, how true.
I hope the book is turning out just as you intended and that the work is going well.
Awaiting the Lord,
Today is the day I feel like giving up, (whatever that means.) I am a bored, lonely, christian of middle age, whose children are slipping out the door one by one. I am of despair and came to the computer and typed “bored christian” into the search engine…I am came across Cerulean Sanctum…I am a huge Rich Mullins and Keith Green fan, as well as Tozer…Please pray for me…I am very disturbed by many things lately,this generation for one. It would be so awesome to see a great revival like the Jesus Movement in the 70’s, thousands of young people truly surrendering to Christ…But if the middle-aged church is bored and apathetic, carnal, materialistic, indifferent,complacent, ect., how will our youth believe us. I do not know where I belong in this generation, I don’t know what to do, oh,deliver me from this desperated stated of boredom, loneliness and spiritual wandering, trying to figure out where I belong in this generation, what do I do, for such a time as this…Where is the passion for Jesus and His word, where is conviction, when will the pastor’s preach in the spirit of Tozer…when will stop pampering unbelievers, and changing pampers and spoon feeding christians…why do we dote on and fear unbelievers at the expense of the church, the body of Christ, by not equipping them, encouraging them, teaching, training believers, helping them to overcome sin and tempation, and, bordom, more is done for the unbeliever, than the Christian, while Christians, slip out the back door and into tthe cares of this world,and friendship with this world, because the church has not time for us…Our services are geared for them, our music is what tickles their ears, and we are told our job is to evangelize, while we struggle in our own lives and walk with God. We need to start with the church, judgement begins with us, the world will be attracted to us if we love each other, and we live as Christians and invite them into ‘OUR WORLD’. I sit here today in the midwest after moving from Ca. almost 10 years ago, my husband has 0 friends, or relationships with men, not outta 6 churches,no man has reached out to him, he is a huge Tozer fan, and is currently reading the Pursuit of Man, reads the Bible through every year for about 10 years…I also have no friends, or relationships outta 6 churches…we attend everything,this is why I want to give up, not go back to any church…they belong to cliques, and unbelievers, the wealthy, the educated, the articulate, the professional….my heart aches and breaks, I can say no more, I pray that Jesus will be my helper, and that I can experience something of the supernatural that comes from the crisis,I am in the pit experience…please pray for us brother of like mind…k
I hear you and just now prayed for you.
Six churches and no community? Something is wrong there. Surely there are some people in one of those six churches who would like to explore deeper community.
If we are going to overcome the world, at some point we have to stand up. How can you “stand up” in your local area and minister in the power of the Lord?
At one point in my life when I was very low, I started driving around my city praying. I prayed for whatever I saw—schools, churches, homes, businesses, and even against some places like psychic reader businesses, abortion clinics, and such. Not only did it afford me peace and quiet while praying, it inspired others to do the same or even go along with me. In just a short time, I saw abortion clinics shut down and fortune tellers close. I saw a school open itself up for ministers to come in and regularly share with the kids. Fruit came quickly.
Is there something like this that you can do? Are there a couple people from at least one of those churches that would go along with you later on?
One more thing and you can take this for what it is worth: It is very hard to set deep roots if you are involved in six churches. You may have to pick the best of the six and consciously decide it is where you will make your mark for Jesus. Be the leaven in loaf there and see what comes of it.
THANKS FOR THE REPLY AND SUGGESTIONS… I BELIEVE I DID NOT MAKE MYSELF CLEAR…WE ARE NOT INVOLVED IN 6 CHURCHES. WE MOVED HERE IN 1995, WE HAVE BEEN INVOLVED OVER THIS PERIOD IN 6 CHURCHES ONE AT A TIME…WE WENT TO THE FIRST CHURCH WE VISITED, AND IT DID NOT TAKE BUT 9 MONTHS TO SEE WOULD SHOULD HAVE LOOKED INTO OTHERS…SECOND CHURCH, THE FIRST FEW MONTHS WERE GOOD, THEN THEY HAD THIS NEW YUPPY, WILLOWCREEK WANNABE, MUSIC PASTOR, THEY TRIED TO QUICKLY ADOPT THE PURPOSE DRIVEN CHURCH STRATEGIES TO THE CHURCH, AND ABRUBTLY OVERTURN THE CHURCH AND IT’S DEEP SOUTHERN BAPTIST TRADITION AND CULTURE, THE PASTOR WAS BECOMING REALLY ARROGANT, AND CONCEITED, AND HE WENT ON THIS MISSION TRIP AND COMMITTED ADULTERY WITH ANOTHER WOMAN, LEFT HIS WIFE AND MINISTRY AND WELL THAT CHURCH IS STILL IN IDENTITY CRISIS, RECENTLY CHANGING ITS NAME TO SOUND UPSCALE, AND SEEKER FRIENDLY…3 CHURCH, ALWAYS PREACHING SIN AND THE WRATH OF GOD, AND OTHER STUFF,ON A SIN WITCH HUNT CONTINUALLY, THEN 4 TOO ANOTHER BAPTIST CHURCH, SAME AS THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, MOVING A LITTLE MORE SLOWLY THOUGH WITH TRYING TO MAKE THE CHURCH SEEKER SENSITIVE WHILE CONTINUING BAPTIST TRADITION, THEY ARE STILL TRYING TO MAKE THESE IDEAS FIT AND WORK. WE WERE NOT LEAVING BUT, WE FOUND OUT THAT THERE WAS A CALVARY CHAPEL STARTING FROM THE GROUND UP, AND WE FELT THAT WE PROBABLY WOULD DO BETTER IN A BRAND NEW CHURCH ESPECIALLY CALVARY CHAPEL BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE AN IDENTITY CRISIS, THEY’VE ALWAYS BEEN REAL…THAT CHURCH FOLDED, AFTER A YEAR, DUE TO DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES…BY THE WAY, INTERESTING, MANY HAVE TRIED TO PLANT CC’S IN OKLAHOMA, BUT HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO OVERCOME MANY BARRIERS HERE. 5 WENT BACK TO THE BIBLE CHURCH, THE PREACHING WAS LABORIOUS AND STERILE-BY THE WAY I ALWAYS FELT THERE WAS SOMETHING NOT RIGHT-RECENTLY THE FOUNDING PASTOR RESIGNED, NO IMMORALITY, BUT OTHER THINGS AND THE CHURCH SPLIT…WENT TO A JOHN PIPER STYLE CHURCH, IT SEEMED IT WAS DESTINED TO ONLY BE A PREACHING CHURCH, AND A GREAT PLACE FOR HOMESCHOOL FAMILIES TO GO…NOW, I REALLY LIKE THE CHURCH WE GO TO NOW, AFTER I WROTE TO YOU,I GOT A CALL FROM AWONDERFUL SAINT, WHO PRAYED WITH ME AND SHARED WONDERFUL TRUTHS WITH ME..I ALSO RECEIVED OTHER CALLS FROM OTHER SISTERS, SO MAYBE THIS WILL FINALLY BE HOME, THIS IS THE CHURCH I WANT TO BE HOME, WE HAVE BEEN THERE A YEAR, IT’S NAZARENE, NOW THAT’S A HUGE THEOLOGICAL JUMP FROM BEING RAISED IN BIBLE CHURCHES, GROWING UP SPIRITUALLY ON CALVANISM,BUT THIS CHURCH HAS THE MOST LOVING REAL, GODLY, SAINTS, ESPECIALLY THE OLDER ONES THAT I HAVE MET…IT’S JUST A THING IN MY CITY, OTHERS ENCOUNTER IT TOO, PEOPLE ARE ALOOF AND BUSY OUTSIDE OF THE CHURCH WALLS. MAYBE THIS WHOLE THING IS JUST SPIRITUAL WARFARE, AND i NEED TO DO WHAT YOU SAID…THANK YOU FOR PRAYING…I INTRODUCED YOUR SITE TO MY HUSBAND, HE AND I BOTH ARE REALLY NEW TO THE BLOG THING, JUST A FEW DAYS AGO I HAD TO ASK MY KIDS WHAT A BLOG WAS…OH, WELL THANK YOU SO MUCH, ESPECIALLY FOR PRAYING, MAYBE THAT’S WHY 2 SISTERS CALLED ME TODAY AFTER I WROTE TO YOU…K
Sheesh – talk about arriving late to a post! Ha!!! But, the GOOD NEWS is, Dan, I love your writing and the way you carefully craft your comments (nice alliteration, there, huh?)
You have really opened a fantastic can of worms – that NEEDS to be opened!! I think this post could blossom into a full blown book that many Christians would read – maybe even out of boredom!
Seriously – this is such an important topic… and one reason you did not mention (or that I missed as I skimmed thru the post) for Bored-Again Christians is that we have turned into an entire Christian population who WATCHES worship – rather than who PARTICIPATE in worship. We stand and WATCH our praise teams or choirs do their thing… we applaud their efforts and sit down – THINKING we have worshiped. But we have not. And because we have not really worshiped, we feel empty inside – and all those empty Sundays add up – until we feel bored or like going to church is a waste of time which, if that is happening, DOES make “going to church” a waste of time.
I’m so glad you wrote about this – and while this post speaks for itself, perhaps you can re-post it some time just to keep us fresh in our thinking.
You don’t want us to get BORED with your blog, after all… ha ha ha!!
My heart was burning for Jesus since I was 10 years old, it was 1977, and the Fire was still there until 1995. Then I found out that there is no love inside the people within churches, i tried to force myself not to leave the church and attended the bible meeting until one day came when my father died and I informed the bible class member about the death of my father. Only one member came to the funeral. I was confused and disappointed. But I decided to walk on with Jesus with or without others, with or without burning heart I will follow Him. Now I have read this 5 reasons, i will act according to it in order not to be bored again until Jesus comes back again