How to avoid boring worship

There is a cure for boring worship. Worship Boring? Come on, now, admit it. In your faith life you have occasionally thought of worship as boring, haven’t you? OK then.

You can understand why worship seems boring to many people. Entertainment is all around us, 24/7, and available in ever-smaller, ever-cheaper and ever-more-convenient ways. In one gadget that fits into our pants pocket, we can watch movies, listen to music, browse the World Wide Web, make phone calls, take photos, text message our friends, play games, read books, and on and on.

By comparison, worship is low-tech, and not multi-functional. On top of that, we use the same basic form of worship week after week, and even with the same prayers and chants.

After a while, you can follow the entire liturgy without ever cracking the red hymnal. You can stand, sit, chant, exchange the peace and take communion without thinking once about it.

Here’s the cure for boring worship:

First, remember that worship is not entertainment. Entertainment aims to distract you from life and reality by altering your mood with pleasant or exciting experiences. Entertainment is a commodity that we buy and use to bring us pleasure. We’re surrounded by cool entertainment delivery systems because they have been designed, manufactured and marketed to bring us pleasure.

Worship is often fun, inspiring, interesting, purposeful and enjoyable, but its entertainment value is really beside the point.

Worship aims to bring you, not away from reality, but towards reality. The reality is that our lives come from God and return to God, and in between we connect with God as at the center of our world, the center of our being. Worship disconnects us from the distractions of entertainment and the world, so that we can reconnect with God and truly live.

Second, focus. At worship, you have only one task — to worship. You do it best by clearing your mind of all the other thoughts your mind is capable of thinking. Focus on the worship service.

If you can say or chant a prayer or song by heart, allow the familiarity to free you to concentrate on each word, each phrase, each sentence as it passes your lips. Focus!

Finally — and this one is the biggie — expect that God is going to touch you during worship in some way. Expect that God who created earth, matter, space and time, is there in the church and reaching out to you. Why on earth would you expect that? Because that is precisely how God operates.

God promises to be with us when we gather in the name of Christ. God has given us the Holy Scriptures in order that God may be revealed to us. We hold services, sing hymns, read Scripture, listen to the Gospel proclaimed, celebrate the sacraments for only one purpose: That we may be present where God has promised to be, and that our lives may be filled with God’s peace, power and love.

But if we’re bored and distracted, wishing to be entertained, we likely won’t be open to God’s presence. And we miss out.

© Copyright 2010, the Rev. Rob Blezard. All rights reserved.

Reprint rights granted for congregations for nonprofit, local use. Please reprint with the following copyright notice:
© Copyright 2010, the Rev. Rob Blezard. Reprinted by permission.
Other uses, please inquire: rob@thestewardshipguy.com

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