Write About Now

church fatigue

I have a confession to make.

I’m tired of going to church.


After 34 years 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’m bored.

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 last week, 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 pulling an Anne Rice and 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 its predictability, I have plenty of friends who also attend church each weekend and then get drunk, live with their boyfriends, or swear the air blue. 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.

Can you relate? How do you deal with “church fatigue”?

August 17, 2010 - Posted by | God, opinions, the church, worship | , , , , , , ,

69 Comments »

  1. Yes, I can relate. And I’m far from a 30-something.

    I don’t think the problem is the predictability, necessarily. I’m not one who likes to be too surprised in a public gathering….I don’t want to be required to participate in some way that clashes with my personality or with my emotional state on any given Sunday. The routine isn’t what bothers me.

    What I think I want is depth to the routine. I want our attention to rivet on God at the start–a true call to worship, not necessarily a song. I want prayer–pastoral prayer, prayer as a congregation for the needs of our community, the world, and our own members. I want Scripture read, a lot of Scripture. I want songs that are meant to be sung corporately, not wallow-y songs about how much I am in love with Jesus. I want time for confession and for assurance of forgiveness (my parents’ Presbyterian church does this nicely)–and I want it clear that we’re not forgiven by the act of taking communion. I want to be reminded, every week, of who God is and who I am in Christ.

    How do I deal with this? Not very well. I know that everyone involved with worship at my church is dedicated and working hard, so I don’t like to criticize. Sometimes I write comments to blogs like this one. :) I’ve been trying (emphasis on trying) to learn to worship God every day. And to remember that loving God and people is more important that a whole lot of other issues.

    You’re right that there is no perfect church, that we need to stay put (most of the time), and anywhere else I would go I’m sure I could find something to be dissatisfied with as well.

    Comment by Diane | August 17, 2010 | Reply

    • I think you’re on to something, because sometimes what I crave is the formal liturgy of the Episcopalians or Anglicans, and that is anything BUT unpredictable. But it’s different enough from OUR liturgy (because of course we have one) that it points me back to the depth. I am WITH you on your second paragraph. I’m not sure why that’s so hard to find.

      But, like you, I don’t want to be critical of a specific church. In fact, I love my pastor and other leaders and the people at my church. You won’t find better people. But my discontent remains.

      Comment by Jennifer | August 17, 2010 | Reply

  2. Boy, do I agree with you, and I’m not a twenty-something. I have been in the church all of my seventy year life and I have been bored for most of it.

    The trouble is that even though we are looking for a relationship with God, most church leaders/preachers interpret that to mean a relationship with a church.

    Stay away for a while and do the things you suggest would be more satisfying, and while you are doing that ask God to show you what the next step in your life is and then pursue that.

    I believe you will be pleasantly surprised.

    Comment by wellwateredgarden | August 17, 2010 | Reply

    • wow… great comment about interpreting relationship with God as relationship with church. I think that focus gets very blurred.

      Comment by j a n | August 17, 2010 | Reply

  3. Interested in the solution side of this. Keep writing

    Comment by John | August 17, 2010 | Reply

  4. Thanks for your honesty, Jennifer. I immediately click on the link to your blog, intrigued by the topic, since I (1) had just posted the daily Pure Purpose FB encouragements, and they touch on balancing adventure and routine, and (2) I read a blog over the weekend called “Faith is Not a Subject.” http://holysoup.com/?p=193

    I don’t have all the answers of what to do when we’re bored with church, but I think your authenticity is key! Not just for your personal growth but for all of us who get church fatigue and just trudge through it…or those who see us trudging through it and see us as hypocritical…or those who decided it wasn’t worth trudging through and left the church.

    God isn’t threatened by our honesty of our questions, doubts, apathy, confusion, etc. He wants us in an ever-deepening relationship with him – and he’s willing to work through whatever it is we’re working through at the time.

    Chronic fatigue? I don’t think a nap is the answer. Sometimes fatigue is best fought with action. :-)

    Comment by Susan | August 17, 2010 | Reply

  5. Your honesty is indeed admirable!!! Many feel as you do,, and I have too during several seasons in my life. I think the answer is truly to search out a church that fits one best while maintaining fidelity to the Biblical precepts that are most important (and you know those) –none are going to be a perfect fit, but I have found that some are a whole lot closer than others. Otherwise, you will not grow. Lukewarm is what Jesus says is worse than either hot or cold, and boredom is indeed lukewarm before growing cold. It really helps to get involved in smaller groups within the larger group, and in serving, but what happens on Sun morning or Sat night is also important! The church we attend now really does mix it up in terms of styles, media, topics and speakers. Leaders understand we are a McDonalds and McNews culture and address a variety of learning and worship styles in the services. If one Sunday is off for someone, next week it will be different! Another important key is a pastor who is real and doesn’t pretend to have it all together. (I go to sleep if a message is read or there is a predictable pacing style).
    Whether it’s Jesus and jeans, dressy and traditional, or truly eclectic (as ours is)–(people at our church can comfortably dress up or down, wear golf clothes, a team tee shirt, or “holy” jeans), the service needs to foster an environment that stimulates true individual worship. Of course a BIG piece is being personally ready to get the most out of a service.

    For ex., I really didn’t want to stay last week when I learned that there was a guest speaker as I saw him as “second string,” but I have learned thru experience if I just confess my impatience to God and ask Him to speak to me SOMEHOW thru the service, He always honors that…..I really listened to the WORDS of the speaker rather than being distracted by his style (which didn’t do much for me), and sure enough the points and words were spot on to what I needed that day.

    Would love for you to visit our church if you are in Cincinnati–Horizon Community Church–meanwhile, keep searching and asking for God’s help…….He is faithful to the faithful!!

    Oh, and PS—I do miss a week from time to time, and haven’t been turned into a pillar of salt yet……occasionally I do stay home and read the paper but nearly always feel a little less peace that week–Sunday church is part of my gorilla glue for coping with life’s stresses!!

    Comment by Angie carl | August 17, 2010 | Reply

  6. Love this post. And then it got me to thinking… I think I understand your point to be that you’re bored with the programming “rut” most big churches currently use every weekend. Let me know if I’m off on that.

    I’m thinking of the churches who do ever more “daring” message series (sex! gasp!), movie clips, gimmicks and giveaways to entertain their audience. They might argue that people are “bored with church” and these weird elements make it more interesting. Not sure if it’s the audience who wants to be entertained, or the church who seeks to keep them by entertaining…

    I don’t think that’s you. Just clarifying what you’re looking for to combat the boredom. (I’ve been visiting churches in SoCal and agree 100%. They’re all identical for all their efforts to be “cutting edge.”)

    Comment by j a n | August 17, 2010 | Reply

    • That’s definitely some of it, Jan. I’m just waiting for the “Mad Men” series about anger. (Although if they get Jon Hamm to show up for the kickoff, I’m THERE.)

      But even the smaller, trying-less-to-be hip churches get in their own ruts. I don’t really care so much about the specific service elements as the growing sense I get that many churches of every size are “phoning it in” each week, staying true to a formula that worked (maybe) in 1992.

      I think this may require another post….

      Comment by Jennifer | August 17, 2010 | Reply

    • It seems as though you are seeking a deeper relationship with Christ. The Bible says when you were young you ate milk and honey but as you grow you need more sustenance, meat. This will come from personal study and prayer, from Biblical teachings ( sermon and sunday school or small group). But what is missing in many of our “church” lives is fellowship. Not church dinners or coffee after service, but real fellowship with each other that inspires us to serve one another and those around us. If you are really bored at church, you might need to be doing something for someone else. Christ taught with his sermons ( the most poignant ones bejng parables), but primarily he teaches us through action and how he served another in a particular situation. The disciples were never bored with him around!

      Comment by Kathy | February 6, 2013 | Reply

  7. The church I attend (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints AKA Mormon) is anything but unpredictable. The only things that change are the talks and discussions. And, like you, I often find myself getting board or having my mind wander. However, I have recently been taking a different approach to this. My thinking is that that God apparently wants us to attend church, as seen in scripture. However, I doubt that God wants us to attend for his benefit. I’m pretty sure he can get along just fine without our worship. So, if not for him, then it must be for us. That being the case, I figure that if I go to church, and I don’t get something out of it, then it is almost certainly my fault. So, I personally choose to look at it like “What does God want me to get out of this?” rather than “Sure wish this guy/gal would say something interesting!” :)

    Comment by Aaron | August 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Hello Aaron,

      I’m a born again Christian here in the UK. I was an atheist at 20 years of age, but have now been a Christian for 20 years.

      I am sure you are not oblivious to the fact that many people who call themselves ‘Christians’ do not consider the LDS to be a true Christian Chuch. With complete respect to you as a human being dearly loved by God, I have to say that I am one of those people. With sincere humility I would like to know if you have been born again by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3)? There are lots more questions I would love to ask you. I’d like to recommend a website which graciously dialogues with mormons: http://www.reachouttrust.org/infoForMormons.php?page=1
      and feel free to mail me personally if you wish to dialogue: allanclare@gmail.com

      May God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, grant you much grace.

      ATC, UK.

      Comment by ATC | September 23, 2012 | Reply

  8. Jennifer:

    I know and feel exactly what you’re talking about. (Here’s the usual disclaimer) I’m not a 30-something. I’m a 50-somethig.

    Now here’s the more UNusual disclaimer) I’m the senior- minister-preacher-worship-minister for our congregation. I’m the guy who is in charge of making it all happen each week. And much of the time, I MYSELF am bored senseless with what we do. I have a masters degree in worship ministry, from a program full of very hip California-types, who are all about “engaging worship” and such. And yet I experienced the same boredom in so many places where I’ve visited, from coast to coast.

    Every week is a struggle to make things more interesting, more engaging, more fulfilling – – but just about each week, I fall into the same formula, the same songs, the same lineup and order and blah blah blah. Some weeks, it works. Some weeks, it doesn’t. Some weeks, it works for this person; other weeks,for that person; others, for the person over there.

    I would LOVE to find a way to truly engage people’s presence in what we do every week. I struggle with the question, “Who’s fault is it – – mine, theirs – – when it doesn’t happen?” I think a lot of leaders carry around a huge burden that weighs down on them and tells them, “If you’d just get it right at the front of the room, then those people out there would be deeply moved by God when they come here.” I know I carry that burden. And it’s wearing me out.

    Comment by Not My Real Name Because Folks I Know Read This | August 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for your honesty. Just for clarification, I certainly am not trying to point fingers at any worship ministers or preaching ministers out there. As I said in the post, I’m not approaching this like Nirvana (here we are now, entertain us). I know that much of what I get out of worship is what I bring to it, and it’s definitely not the leader’s responsibility to make sure everybody in the congregation has an “experience.” We are commanded to worship, so we do. I’m just struggling with how I can continue to bring something to it.

      I hope for peace and rest for you.

      Comment by Jennifer | August 17, 2010 | Reply

    • I really connect with this post. Thanks for your honesty. I believe that we’ve put the cart before the horse. Why do I believe this: “I would LOVE to find a way to truly engage people’s presence in what WE DO every week”. Maybe their not engaged in what YOU are doing, because they don’t have a role, a say, or a care about what YOU are doing. I do think they care about what GOD is doing, but what YOU are doing more often than not does not resonate with what THEY are feeling, thinking, or desiring.
      I’ve been where YOU are. I was in the meetings trying to find a way to “give people Jesus, show people Jesus, etc” and instead of asking THEM what was most important in our gatherings, we got clever. We created something that WE thought THEY needed. Imagine showing up to the doctor’s office and before he even examines you says, “I think I know exactly what you need today!” and then gives you a shot and starts singing! I believe that there is an attitude that WE, the worship leaders, know what people need. And isn’t it odd that what WE think THEY need is exactly what WE like, and have been trained (some), to deliver? Oh what bliss!
      But I take heart because Jesus,yeah that guy, said:”Believe me, woman (YES, A WOMAN?!?!), a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.” AMEN.
      Now for some announcements…

      Comment by john | August 17, 2010 | Reply

      • The doctor analogy is SOOOO true. Here’s the journey I think you need to go on this week. Really? How do you know what I need? You didn’t ask me.

        Comment by Traci | September 8, 2010

    • “I’m the guy who is in charge of making it all happen each week.”

      Perhaps this is part of the problem. What might it mean to put God back in charge so that he can express himself through ALL members of a church, instead of just a select few.

      The conundrum: can pastors make the necessary changes and still justify drawing a salary?

      Comment by Joel Zehring | December 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Something I have longed to have happen in my church, which is a small rural congregation, is to unplug. Turn off the microphones and the electric guitar and stand side by side, not row by row, maybe even in a circle, and worship together in song and prayer. I imagine this to be what it was like in the upper room. They were bare before each other, no pretenses, no hiding no plans. People will say,” what about visitors?” My response is, “If they are there that week, then it is because God called them to be there, that week, to witness the Holy Spirit in the midst of believers earnestly seeking fellowship with one another and with the Father.”

      Comment by Kathy | February 6, 2013 | Reply

  9. Jennifer, this post makes me boil.
    Call me.

    Comment by christie | August 17, 2010 | Reply

  10. Some things I’ve observed in me – don’t know if they apply to anyone else:
    1. I do better with adequate sleep (just being real).
    2. I am more able to worship from my heart when I’ve attended Sunday School first; especially if something in the lesson reminded me how much grace I (need and) get.
    3. It’s hard for me to worship when I’m feeling out of sorts with someone. When I catch this in myself and confess it, I do better (I wish I caught myself more!)

    Comment by Al Forthman | August 17, 2010 | Reply

  11. Great post. Thanks for making me aware of Brett McCracken’s article.

    C.S. Lewis said that liturgy is like an old dance. You already know the moves so you are free to focus not on the next step, but on your partner.

    Augustine was bored with church too – until he went to Milan and met Ambrose.

    Is it possible that the church is just as bored with you?

    Comment by Matt | August 17, 2010 | Reply

    • That’s one of my favorite Lewis quotes–and why I still attend Episcopal services regularly.

      Perhaps I need to go to Italy. :)

      I think the answer to your last question is almost certainly yes–but elaborate, please.

      Comment by Jennifer | August 17, 2010 | Reply

      • Italy – great idea.

        You have been kind yet honest in your critique of the church. May I kindly ask if the things that bore you about your church are also present in your spiritual life?

        Comment by Matt | August 17, 2010

      • Ah, I see. Yes, you as a long-time reader know that the past few years have included struggles with who God is, how he does (or does not, as the case may be) interact with us, what we can/cannot expect in relationship with him, etc. So that’s definitely going to mean less enthusiasm for corporate worship, no matter WHAT that worship looks like. And that’s something I need to own and work through.

        On the other hand, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t rethink church. Just because I’m a mess doesn’t mean the system isn’t broken, too. :)

        Comment by Jennifer | August 17, 2010

  12. Jenn, Jenn, Jenn…

    Don’t you know that no one’s asking you? Well…not no one.

    John

    PS – First THIS CHURCH launch team gathering next Sunday night. Thanks for your prayers.

    Comment by john | August 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Let me know how it goes!

      Comment by Jennifer | August 17, 2010 | Reply

  13. One could argue that “mess” and “broken” are respectively too strong and too week of words. Otherwise I am in agreement.

    Comment by Matt | August 17, 2010 | Reply

  14. Great post. And great comments.

    I thought I might lighten it up a bit.

    You mention the “tasteless, cardboard bread pellets.”

    I know someone who calls them Jeez-its. Get it? Jesus. Cheez-Its. Ha.

    Thanks for your honesty. I resonate with your sentiments.
    I will step back now and let the seriousness resume.

    Comment by Brandon | August 17, 2010 | Reply

  15. PREACH IT GIRL. my oh my the disussions i’ve had in the last 2 years revolving around this topic… just know you are not alone.

    Comment by kristi | August 17, 2010 | Reply

  16. church can be a bit like being at a fancy las vegas buffet for the first time (insert your favorite type of food- i’ll use seafood). you can’t believe how many types of exotic, flavorful things there are – how did they get tuna from hawaii, lobster from maine, salmon from alaska, caviar from russia – all right here as fresh as though it came from the lake outside?

    you can’t believe the amount there is, how beautiful the presentation is, and how you’re getting this for such an “reasonable” price. you get to try things you’ve never tried before, that you would never try anywhere else.

    you load your plate the first time through the line. you finish it, and go back for a second, this time only filling your plate with the things you really liked. after finishing that plate, you decide your waistline can handle one more time through the buffet prior to hitting the dessert table. you’re stuffed, but it is all good stuff.

    then you decide to go again the next week. and the next week. and the next week and every week thereafter until you’ve had so much lobster, “that,” as Dave Ramsey states, “it tastes like soap.” at this point, its all routine – it all tastes the same as it did the week before. blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

    you decide you’re bored with it, and while you still love seafood, you really don’t want any more. at least for a while. at least until you’ve sufficiently cleansed your palate and have a taste for it again. but how long will that take? a week? a month? a year?

    not only are you tired it, but you are fat. you can’t get around like you used to. you’ve had to buy new clothes. you don’t even recognize the person you see in the mirror, let alone remember how you used to look, and why it was you took pride in that in the first place. you’re ashamed of going to the buffet week after week, and really don’t want to go back. but, you’ve got to eat. you can’t starve yourself. what are you going to do?

    there are tons of diets. tons of fads, plans, shakes, pills and ideas for losing it. but really it takes burning more calories than you take in. yes, it is going to hurt to get exercising again, and when you eat less for a while, all you can do is obsess about the unhealthy patterns and foods you’ve consumed to put you into your current fat position. laziness is not conducive to weight loss.

    you could get extreme by signing up, training for and running a marathon. fast for 40 days. eat canned pears for 6 weeks. but are those sustainable patterns that will get you back to the picture of health you once were? and is there really any getting back to that place? you pray for a miracle drug- a fountain of youth – an elixir that once consumed will help you feel/act/look and be a better, healthier you, but its not out there. lack of discipline got us fat, a disciplined life will get us back on track.

    sorry for the novelette, but our current consumer/capitalistic mindset within our church and culture pushes most of us to the buffet table week after week, and we become “spiritually obese.” our cultural “value” of being busy constantly doesn’t allow us to take advantage of the oppportunities for service, mission and care for others in our community, state, country and globe. in reality, our “weight loss plan” entails just taking the first step to get out of our comfort zones and simply have a conversation with someone who knows nothing about jesus, his grace, and how having a relationship with him can change their world. we are not encouraged to view the church or the world through the eyes of the lost, which makes us tolerant of laziness, cliches and living luke warm lives, thinking, “i don’t know enough to get up and say anything, so i’m just going to sit back and shut up.” we’ve lost sight of “the priesthood of all believers” and likely cannot remember the last time we had a conversation with a non-believer about a real life issue where we simply said, my faith sustains me, but i still struggle with things.

    i encourage all of us to find those conversations. to get off our bums and out of the comfort zone of our church and help find a way to get others to the buffet and partake in a way that helps us remember the one who showed us how to live, love, pray and serve.

    Comment by jeff e. | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  17. [...] bwhope — Leave a comment August 18, 2010 Earlier this morning I read a blog post titled Church Fatigue by Jennifer Tayler.  Jennifer opens up here heart and explains how she is bored with church.  [...]

    Pingback by Response: Church Fatigue « A Blog of Hope | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  18. [...] Taylor has confessed her sin publicly: she’s bored at church. But unlike many people, she’s not interested in a more whizz-bang service with hipper music [...]

    Pingback by Bored at Church - SKYEBOX | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  19. Thank you, Jennifer, for your honest confession and for jump starting this conversation. And I also appreciate you’re ability to discuss your feelings without falling into consumerist language about the church. We need more voices like yours.

    I’ve written a short response to your post on my site:

    http://www.skyejethani.com/?p=589

    Comment by Skye Jethani | August 18, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for these kind words, and for your response. I’m interested to see what your readers have to say, and if this touches a nerve with them like it did with the readers here. Guys, if you haven’t already, go read Skye’s post. “Our boredom isn’t with Christ or even his Church, but with the institutional trappings of the 501c3 organizations we call “the church.”…. When this happens we begin to believe that what is good for the organization is also good for the church and God’s mission. And a vision of life with God is slowly overshadowed by a life for the organization. When this seeps into our worship gatherings, and a vision for the church rather than Christ is what fuels the time, we shouldn’t be surprised when people become “bored.”

      What he said. :)

      Comment by Jennifer | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  20. [...] fatigue, part 2 Last week’s post, in which I confessed my boredom with attending church services, hit a [...]

    Pingback by church fatigue, part 2 « Write About Now | August 24, 2010 | Reply

  21. Thanks for opening this discussion Jen. You stated, “And I’m ready for something else.” Take heart, “something else” does exist. Good news! There is more! And we have access to the more through the Holy Spirit. Heaven has already invaded earth. God’s will is being done here on earth as it it is Heaven, all we need to do is want it, and God will respond. Heaven responds to our hunger. Your post generated such response. This just shows how hungry we are for a real encounter with God. Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.” You’re so right, it’s not about programs, it’s about encountering the living God, who wants to encounter us.

    Comment by B.Gus | August 26, 2010 | Reply

  22. Do you know WHY we all feel this way? Because Jesus never came here to set up an “institution” or “organization”, he came he for RESTORATION and RECONCILLIATION (II Cor) of a relationship.

    If you had a relationship with someone that was as monotonous and meaningless (yes, I believe most of what we do in “worship” services is meaningless — even to God), you would feel about that other person the way you feel about church. Just as we have to keep our relationships with our family, friends, and loved ones vital and fresh, we also must keep our relationship with God vital and fresh — a LIVING relationship.

    For most, Christianity is about DEEDS rather than about LIVING.

    That’s my 2-cents!!

    Comment by J. G. | August 29, 2010 | Reply

  23. Jen:
    Bordom should only be the first stage. The next stage is the aha stage with sparks of excitement at what you begin to see in God’s Word calling for a completely different kind of church. The stage after is anger. You start to share with the saints at your current church what you see in God’s Word that calls for a completely different kind of gathering and they reject flat out even though you show them straight up in plain English from the Word. There are several more stages but let me try to light a spark for the aha stage.

    The scripture you quote from Heb. 10:24, 25 is a key verse. You have known this warning for years like most pew sitting believers including me 15 years ago, but have ignored the huge challenge of the words before and after. They tell us in a brief nut shell what believers are supposed to do before they meet and when they meet. “Let us consider how we can spur one another on to love and good works”…”but let us encourage one another and all the more since the day is approaching.” The meeting dynamic God has designed for us to not miss is intimate, personal, two-way communication which requires your participation in the expression of truth from your heart to the other saints and from theirs to yours. That is the exact opposite of what you are getting, impersonal, non-relational one-way communication with no participation from your heart to the rest of the saints or from theirs to yours.

    This kind of communication requires personal preparation on your part Monday through Saturday. That’s 24-7 church life. Your “personal devotions” are no longer just for you. They are body life devotions now. Nothing is just for you. You must pass on to others what you learned and examine and check out what others said the week before and see if it’s true (Acts 17:11)

    There is so much more but I must leave only this spark. This kind of church is known as Organic church or Home church. You may or may not have heard about this kind of church. There are some home churches that are not any better than the institutional kind because the saints there have not really fixed all the bad habits of institutional forms. They just meet in a home with the same pulpit-pew form. Real organic church is hugely different. I call it 100% church.
    100% of the giving goes out the door, not 75% of the giving pooled to buy stuff for the givers and 25% going out the door (or less).
    100% one another oriented communication – “preach the word…” does not mean “lecture the word… in season and out of season…”
    100% mutual relationships – no power pyramid with special titles.
    100% reproductive leadership – no perpetual dependency, no fence around any ministry – it’s all “entrusted to faithful men who will teach others also..”
    100% intergenerational – the children are full participants – They see their parents modeling what to do. They are never sent to another room. (We have 30 children in our 5 families – wow, what a jolt to minister outside your own self-box. (Many saints would not consider a church where they can’t sent off their kids to some one else to teach.)

    Nothing is predictable when you follow God’s design. Your head may spin at times with the rapid change and the opportunities for life transformation that come at you face to face, heart to heart, not from behind a pulpit. God has rocked my boat for the last 12 years.

    The justification for institutional forms is a very tightly woven web of bad translations, bad interpretation, selfish motives, and ignored scripture. Godly people have done it for generations, but it does not need to stay this way for that reason. God unraveled it all before my eyes step by step in the most unusual ways.

    Comment by Tim | August 30, 2010 | Reply

    • I was able to participate in an interview with Neil Cole a few years ago as part of a book project, and the Organic Church model/approach has stayed in my brain since then. I think there’s something to it that I need to explore. Thanks for your thoughts.

      Comment by Jennifer | August 30, 2010 | Reply

    • DITTO!!! THIS is the kind of relational, living fellowship Christ came to establish. If you study the Scriptures in their 1st Century context carefully, you can see the fruitfulness of such a “church”.

      The “church” as it is today is largely a result of the Roman Emperor Constantine (4th Century) making Christianity the “legal” religion of Rome, his paying for the construction of “Church buildings” which followed the structure of the old Roman pagan temples, and the instantiation of a liturgy that also followed in form the old Roman pagan rituals.

      JG

      Comment by J. G. | August 30, 2010 | Reply

  24. I cannot tell you how BORED and sick and tired I am of the megachurches and their huge auditoriums, the multiple classrooms (all dedicated to married couples, children, and youth), and the superstar rock hero worship teams!!!! I don’t need to be entertained. I don’t need anymore worship teams thinking they are the Christian version of Coldplay or U2. I don’t need to walk through a church and always have to shift my feet around to avoid being knocked down by the ever-present mob of teenagers running around like it is high school.

    You are not along Jennifer Taylor.

    I have noting against being “all things to all people” but it seems more and more like most churches are more interested in trying to be hip and cool and exclusively middle-class family-friendly.

    I am so tired of this church atmosphere that I decided to include my hometown on my by-line at the head of my post. There is a church in town like this and I no longer want to attend.

    Hey, I like upbeat music (but not what is played in churches) and innovative ministries (and no, innovative ministries are not AWANA or MOPS), but I don’t NEED those at a church to feel at home.

    Comment by Dan from NEWNAN GEORGIA | August 30, 2010 | Reply

    • Ooops, I meant to say..

      You are not ALONE Jennifer Taylor!

      Also, I have had the idea that some churches should taylor their services to people who cannot litterally stand during worship or because of struggles with ADD and get restless and bored after 45 minutes.

      Comment by Dan from NEWNAN GEORGIA | August 30, 2010 | Reply

  25. What a bunch of freakin’ whiners. “I’m so bored w/rock star worship bands…” “I’m so bored with three songs and a handshake…” “I’m so bored with: .” Sniff sniff whaaaa whaaaa whaaaa sniff sniff. Go back to Egypt already.

    Here’s a prescription for you: Stop going to church. Stop fellowshipping with a 20th century mindset of what it takes to connect with the “Word” of God. AND don’t go back to the 1st century church to try and see how they “got it right” – unless you’re ready to be martyred for your faith(which is being more Christlike than Billy Graham). Do what you can to escape the grip of an agenda intent upon your membership, dollars and votes.

    When was the last time you did something truly dangerous? Something where you really put your life, your reputation, your job, your faith, your money on the line? If you can’t remember, then you’re probably not worthy of Christ’s kingdom. Name one of Jesus’ disciples that wasn’t martyred? Can you?

    What is your faith based upon? The 4 walls of a building? The 4 spiritual laws? Mixed worship? Of saving “it” for marriage? Of spending your life with like-minded, like-skinned, like-aged pre-adolescent so called believers who believe that the bible is all about keeping our country and american way of life secure?

    Move to Africa/Indonesia/India/Central America. Go live with some of the 3 billion people who live on less than $2.00 per day. Move to China where you’ll see a nation move to faith and crush this so called American “Christian” nation with a mustard seed. Move to Iraq or Afghanistan and do post-traumatic-stress-disorder counseling for the people who’s lives we’ve ruined in the name of (the true american god = $) and “national security.”

    Grow up. Get out of your comfortable “its all about me, Jesus” mindsets or stop calling yourselves “conformed to the firstborn son.” Stop hating “sinners” (gays, muslims, abortionists, cohabitators, sex offenders, terrorists, asian people, black people, anyone who does not look or believe like you) to make yourself feel better about yourself. WWJD? He’d come back to earth and get crucified all over again by the pharisaical western evangelical church leaders.

    If you really want to be a “1st Century” Church type Christian, go live a life like Peter (martyred). Paul (martyred). John the Baptist (martyred). Jesus (martyred).
    Then you won’t have anything to whine about.

    Comment by Than C. | August 30, 2010 | Reply

    • Than C:

      Much of what Jennifer and others here are posting about IS against American culture and how it has poisoned the “church” My post above was a rail basically against mega-churches that are nothing more than a “Christianized High School” Most of these churches DON’T preach a costly discipleship. Most of them are basically there to cater to stay-at-home moms, make your children moral, keep your kids from being offended by the world, and to make husbands get their act together. Nothing more.

      The commenters here ARE wanting to go back to the first century church. This is where church TRULY mattered. No one here is disagreeing with you.

      Comment by Dan from NEWNAN GEORGIA | August 30, 2010 | Reply

    • How judgmental of you.

      Comment by Dennis Huxley | December 17, 2010 | Reply

      • How?

        Comment by Dan from Newnan, GA | December 22, 2010

  26. Than C:

    The Apostle John.

    If you are so bold, why post under an anonymous moniker. Who here is hating on gays, muslims, abortionists, blacks? You forgot to mention immigrants.

    Comment by Dan from NEWNAN GEORGIA | August 30, 2010 | Reply

  27. Try my email address Dan from NEWNAN, GA. I am not anonymous. I live in Los Angeles, CA. Here is where i fellowship: http://newsong.net – i also attend their campuses in london and bangkok when there on business. are they perfect. no. do they have rock star worship. yes. do i understand what worship is? yes. is it about me? no.

    My argument is that you do not want to engage in century 1 ecclesiology because you couldn’t handle it.

    it was illegal. 1st century christians were being killed daily. the gov’t was against them as well as their fellow jews (i.e. the sanhedrin/the group paul was a part of before his damascus road experience). If you want to see a movement grow, outlaw it. say it isn’t good. this is why the underground church in china is so viral – because it is against the law. We sit here in the usa whining about dwindling church membership, while in the 2/3 of the world where poverty reigns, the church is experiencing growth like in no other time in history. America and our comfort is going to hell in a handbasket. Justifying our allegience to God and money is coming to an end.

    When we just sit around and whine about it, we do nothing to move toward a solution. We become like the Israelites who cried to God, who delivered them via Moses, then were banished to the wilderness for 40 years because they didn’t have any faith. No promised land for you.

    Stop whining and be part of the solution. If you don’t want your kids to grow up in a church where costly discipleship isn’t preached, move to a culture where you can’t wear a cross around your neck w/o being arrested. they’ll learn the cost of discipleship there. if you don’t have the courage or faith to do so, stop railing against what you don’t like w/whining, and find a new ways to grow in your faith.

    Church is not the answer. Knowing the bible is not the answer. Living on faith – risking your life daily in the name of Jesus – that is the answer. How did the Roman soldier in Matthew 8:8 display more faith than anyone else Christ encountered? He was not Jewish. Did not attend the temple. The church hadn’t been established yet. Yet even Jesus was astounded by this guy’s faith.

    Figure out how to live like this guy. Jesus doesn’t owe you shit. But he gave it to you anyway. Your church doesn’t owe you anything either. So quit whining and stop being a burr in the hide of your church or get moving on understanding what it means to be a part of the Kingdom and stop fricking whining.

    Than C.
    Los Angeles, CA

    Comment by Than C. | August 30, 2010 | Reply

    • Than C:

      There is no reason for you to be hostile to me. For me, speaking out online is a way for me to express my displeasure with the American church. There is NOTHING wrong with that. My posting my displeasure is NOT “doing nothing.” Peole will read comments like yours and mine and perhaps they too will “see the light.” If I was just sitting around whining and doing nothing, then I wouldn’t have posted what I posted, but instead have just kept my mouth shut and stewed inwardly, but I cannot be silent.

      Many people in the past have gotten persecuted for protesting what they saw was wrong in society. By the way, please don’t attack just me personally when I am not saying anything different than what everyone else here is saying. You don’t know me. Try not to make judgements about my motives and the like based upon just what you read online ONLY.

      The other reason I posted here is because Jennifer posted something that I TOO have become increasingly uncomfortable with in the American Church and I wanted to let her and others know that they are not alone. There is nothing wrong with that either. Her post and the following comments was a breath of fresh air and, frankly, fun to read. And then you come in and attack me and others with things that are 1)untrue, and 2)not relevant to this topic.

      Please Than make the web experience more of a place of encouragement, exhortation, and growth for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (and that is not a simple request to “let’s all just get along”).

      Again, I agree with much of what you said. I frankly don’t know why you are attacking me when my post, which again is public and therefore not “doing nothing,” doesn’t say anything to contradict you, but is my way of expressing my discomfort with watered-down, family-friendly Christianity which is so common in the church today.

      Thanks for reading.

      Comment by Dan from Newnan, GA | September 1, 2010 | Reply

    • Than, My apologies to you for misunderstanding your real name.

      Comment by Dan from Newnan, GA | September 1, 2010 | Reply

  28. Hey guys,
    Don’t make me stop this car and come back there.

    Than, I get what you’re saying. No argument that American Christianity is much easier than the early days of the faith. However, I don’t think the only solution is for all of us to move to China. There are plenty of opportunities to die to oneself and make sacrifices here, and I agree that following after Jesus intentionally like this is going to make our worship–wherever, whenever we do it–more meaningful.

    The original goal of this post was to a) be honest about how American Churchianity isn’t working and b) seek dialogue about where things have gone wrong and what the solutions are–here, in this time and this place and this culture. Let’s stay focused on that.

    Comment by Jennifer | August 30, 2010 | Reply

  29. I DO understand, Jennifer. You’re going through what we call here in the South a “dry spell” with your faith. I’ve experienced seasons of it myself as well. My epiphany came in my mid-20’s (I’m 44 now). I was reared a Christian. Like any young person who leaves home, I just HAD to go out and see what it was like on the other side of that church door. One day I woke up and didn’t like the woman I saw in the mirror. I promptly was restored. It IS A FACT, however, that we all do get burn-out. I’m glad you’ve acknowledged it. Now when I start feeling that way, I just don’t sign up for as many extra-curricular church programs/projects. I don’t stop attending services, but make more personal time outside of church for ME. I will tell you that I know I’m not in church to be entertained. I’m a participant there to worship God. It’s just HIM & me.

    Comment by Tammy | September 8, 2010 | Reply

  30. Jen, I agree with so much of what you are saying. Wish it wasn’t so. Makes me sad.

    Comment by Traci | September 8, 2010 | Reply

  31. [...] have an agenda here, other than to create a place for dialogue. As I learned when I expressed my boredom with church, I’m not the only one wrestling with these questions. So let’s talk about them. First [...]

    Pingback by just asking « Write About Now | October 19, 2010 | Reply

  32. Jennifer, great post. And a fantastic collection of comments from many different points of view. Love it!

    For me, the difference between “boredom” and non-boredom is the amount of interaction and involvement. At a regular evangelical church service, if you’re not part of the ‘worship team’ on stage, then you are an audience member watching a show … and if the show isn’t quite right, boredom easily sets in.

    For my wife and I, the solution was to move on to a different format of church. We are now part of a small house church (we meet from about 9am to 11am every second Sunday) which basically runs like a mid-week Bible study.

    This switch from “consumer” (audience member) to “content creator” (where we can all actively contribute to the conversation) has been fantastic! No more boredom, lots of spiritual growth.

    Comment by Darryl | October 20, 2010 | Reply

  33. I’m a preacher, have been for 30 years, and I’m bored at church. Actually, not church. I’m bored with sermons and songs. All of them. I think we’ve lost sight of what church is, an active, involved, missional collection of people called to be reconcilers of people with God. Sure, we should worship together, but worship services and classes dominate the activity of the church. Those two things are the centerpiece is most church fights. It is the entertainment/educational aspect of church that is suspect, regardless of style. We need to be doers of the Word, not just singer/listeners of the Word.

    Comment by Mark | December 5, 2010 | Reply

    • Parishioners and pastors are perhaps of guilty of the same distraction: It’s about me.

      Pastor: “My parishioners need me and my teaching.”

      Parishioners: “My pastor needs to feed me with inspirational/entertaining teaching.”

      Comment by Joel Zehring | December 9, 2010 | Reply

  34. We probably shouldn’t be asking “what am I getting out of church” but rather “what am I putting into it?”

    Comment by Michael | December 5, 2010 | Reply

    • OR “What is coming out of our church?”

      Comment by Joel Zehring | December 9, 2010 | Reply

  35. And thus is the difficulty…each individual expecting something different from the church. How can we possibly satisfy all of that?

    Comment by Jessie | December 6, 2010 | Reply

  36. Thanks Jenn. We can relate. Three years ago we felt God calling us and a few friends to New Zealand (a place where this problem may be concentrated and magnified a bit more than in the states). We started Rechurch in Christchurch, New Zealand this February (www.rethinkchurch.co.nz).

    We’re doing our best to rethink church – it’s even our tagline – but I still find myself wondering how we can stay out of the box.

    Let’s face it – church is broken. Our way of worshipping is broken. But it’s what we’ve got for now. I suppose we have a challenge to make less broken, but I don’t think it will ever be really fixed this side of heaven. It’s just part of life. I agree – it’s definitely not worth giving up on, but sort of annoying at times :-).

    Comment by Nate | December 6, 2010 | Reply

  37. Jen! Obviously you’ve not been to MY church; we’re different, we promise! :D

    is this another vote for earnest and authentic expression in the church? Or house church/small group service = church, to heck with buildings?

    Comment by Kyle | December 6, 2010 | Reply

  38. I believe the institution we’ve created, which we call “church” is not biblical and irrelevent. I believe sermonizing is wrong. The gathering together of the Body of Christ should be a conversation, not a monologue. And a conversation can’t take place in gatherings of more than, say, 20-30 people. I believe having individual congregations centering around a single person, referred to as “pastor”, is a contradiction to Heaven’s model. I believe that expecting 99% of the people of God to assume the role of audience week after week is an affront to God’s declaration that we are all kings and priests. Only two biblical gifts are tolerated in the institutional church. One is pastor, which has been completely polluted. The other is the gift of “helps”, which has been hijacked to support the vision (God-given or not) of the “pastor”. The present “church” model doesn’t just need adjusting–it needs to be abandoned. Meet in your homes. If this scares you because of the apostasy known as the doctrine of Covering, try to find support for that false doctrine in the bible. You won’t find it. Christ is your covering, and we have His authority. We’ve been snookered, and, truthfully, we’re all guilty of the mess we are in.

    Comment by Dennis Huxley | December 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Don’t YOU think you are being judgemental towards churches in general these days? What if a church is doing God’s work, despite that particular church not being a “home” church? So a church has a pastor. So what?

      Comment by Dan from Newnan, GA | December 22, 2010 | Reply

  39. [...] and the only one not on staff at one of our churches or colleges), I shared your response to my church fatigue and said I think inertia will carry our churches for the next ten years, but probably not the next [...]

    Pingback by future tense « Write About Now | April 13, 2011 | Reply

  40. Great blog!
    I think you would appreciate mine too.
    Been relational housechurching and planting for 30 years.
    My blog is about Jesus, church and life in general.

    http://notesfromthebridge.wordpress.com

    Christopher “Captain” Kirk

    Comment by oikoskrk | October 15, 2011 | Reply

  41. Thank you for your bold sincerity. I too am bored and sorely disappointed with “church.”

    There must be MORE!
    -Rev. Kay

    Comment by Kay | October 4, 2013 | Reply


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