The Rhythm of Going to Church (Even Boring Church)

This is a gift you can give your teen.

What? You know your schedule. You know your overscheduled schedule. And you are the one who hears your teen’s complaints about wanting this one morning to sleep in. Or can’t I just have a break this day? Or why should I go because I don’t get anything out of it anyway?

You have to be the “mean parent” and get them out of bed all grumpy because you are giving them this gift of the rhythm of going to church.

You are. May my voice encourage you to endure through the whining and grumbling and your own doubts.

Read this testimony, Boring Church Services Changed My Life.

“I still believe this, more strongly now than ever, but I also believe that in some ways church does—or did—save me. It didn’t save me in the ways you might expect: a spectacular Sunday service, a homerun sermon, or a gripping worship set. God’s primary tool to transform my heart was not the conference speaker or the travelling revivalist or the worship concert. Those events were important, but now I realize that, more often, God changed my life using routine worship services in which I sang hymns I didn’t quite understand and heard messages I didn’t quite grasp.


“In dark and stormy seasons, what comes into my head first? The lines of hymns I learned as child in church. The verses I memorized on Wednesday nights in my Awana class. The passages of Scripture we stood and read aloud.”  –Daniel Darling

Maybe you do attend a boring church. Maybe you intentionally chose your church because it was not boring. Maybe you intentionally chose your church so your teen would like it (and he/she still whines ever week). The important thing is the rhythm you are creating for your teen. This is part of passing on your faith.

This rhythm has been found to be true in study after study of faith development. Maybe this is true in your own life. As much as you dreaded going to church when you were a teen, now that you are an adult you have come to appreciate the foundation that you have. This is why you are “dragging” your own teen to church week-after-week. You are giving them a gift.

But you are the one to hear how boring everything is.

Then we all have these devices in our hands that are “dopamine pumps” that counteract the bored rhythms of life. When we feel a bit of boredom (or as adults we call it a moment of quiet), instead of being in the boredom we take ourselves out of it with these “dopamine pumps.”

This is so true. And the truth gets worse. “There’s an incredible study of college students who are left without a phone and without a book. After six minutes, they are giving themselves electroshocks rather than just being alone. It’s not that surprising, because if you look at people’s behavior at stop signs and checkout lines, we think of boredom as a problem that technology can solve.

“One young man I interviewed said he was excited because his generation would be the first generation that would never know what boredom felt like. He said that as if it were a good thing. But childhood boredom is a very important thing. It’s when the brain resets itself and comes back to letting the imagination feel free. Adult boredom is also important.”  —Sherry Turkle

Boredom is a gift. It is a gift to have our brains reset. It is a gift to “be still and know God.” The medieval mystic Meister Eckhart said there is “nothing in the world that resembles God as much as silence.”

Maybe you need to schedule boredom into your family schedule. Or maybe when you hear “I’m soooooooo bored” you secretly do a happy dance inside, disconnect what you are doing for maybe 5 minutes to engage with your bored whiny teen, and share something inspiring. Yes, it is hard to think you can be inspiring when you have the demands of your life cluttering your head but this can be when the Holy Spirit inspires you. This can be when you lean into the moment and trust that what pops into your head is actually Holy Spirit inspired. Don’t be surprised if you amaze yourself.

Then let your teen be bored, praying that he/she is resetting his/her brain with this great wisdom nugget you amazingly dropped in. Or that nugget he/she will remember when he/she is older and life has become overwhelming and suddenly he/she will remember that “boring” song that was sung every Sunday.

The gift of boredom is something that is only appreciated with age and hindsight. Right? Meanwhile, don’t be afraid of it for your teen. Engage it. Create the rhythm for it.

(photo credit: Matt Hosay)