Have you ever been really, really …. really bored attending a church service? I think everyone has had this kind of experience more than once. Perhaps this is why some churches use uncomfortable pews – it makes it pretty hard to take a good nap.
Honestly, there are times when church services are snooze worthy. They can become very routine and predictable. As a young person you may feel powerless to change it. However, before talking about what is ‘wrong’ with your church, let’s talk about what is right about your youth ministry.
Some youth ministries are the best expressions of what Church is supposed to be. These groups are a place where young people have accountability, community, and opportunities for friendships to grow. They do ministry together, go to camps, do mission trips, serve their community, and become leaders. They host events that are engaging, where young people talk about relatable topics and are surrounded by people who want the best for them.
After being a part of something like that for a person’s entire teenage life, the thought of sitting in a church service with a few friends and a lot of strangers while listening to someone talk isn’t very appealing. You have to be quiet, listen, and do what everyone else is doing. They don’t all go do ministry together. Everyone doesn’t know each other. It may even seem like people are annoyed that you make too much noise or you don’t dress the same.
Here is the best illustration I can come up with to explain what I think the root of the issue may be. Donuts. I love chocolate glazed donuts. I remember eating way too many and feeling sick after having nine in a sitting. Knowing I shouldn’t do it didn’t stop me.
I used to buy them from different kinds of donut shops. Then it happened. I had a life changing experience when someone took me to Krispy Kreme donuts for the first time. There I watched the dough drop into the grease to be cooked. It went around a conveyer belt and liquid sugar was poured over the donut. Then, if that wasn’t enough, a layer of chocolate was added. When I bit into that donut, it melted in my mouth. It was an experience that no other chocolate dipped donut ever gave me before.
I was in love. No second rate donut would ever satisfy me again. And they truly never have. Krispy Kreme made it so I would never be happy with any other version of a chocolate dipped donut.
A growing trend has been occurring in which young people leave youth group and don’t know where they belong. They search for the connections and opportunities they had in their youth ministry or young adult group. They attend other youth and young adult events and services in search of what they once had. Some find what they’re looking for but many give up searching and come to the conclusion what they are looking for no longer exists.
Once you have experienced true community and living for Jesus as a group of friends, once you have tasted what it is like to live for Jesus 24 /7 and not just in Sunday services everything else just seems second best. The truth is you have been ruined for ordinary church attendance. However, there are ways to change that without settling for less and without having to buy the cheap donut.
Make attending your church about joining your community of friends and experiencing God together. Talk with each other about how the church can be more welcoming to youth and make suggestions about how you can help make it happen. Lead. I have seen churches where the youth have taken over the front of the congregation, not the back. Here they set the pace of worship, interaction, and atmosphere of the church. It is incredibly encouraging for the entire church.
Don’t wait until you’re an adult to connect and get to know adults in your church. Find ways to do ministry with the adults and kids, not just attend services together. Find ways to do this as a youth group. For example, if you go to a soup kitchen, take a parent or guardian with you. Do some events for the older people. Go to some of their events, even if they seem boring.Invite your senior pastor to your youth ministry a few times a year.
Lastly, remember you are getting older and change can be little painful. When you were a child someone took care of you. They clothed you, fed you, and taught you. As we get older we begin to take care of ourselves. However, as we mature we begin to help take care of others. Sometimes we get bored as we get older, but that’s because we aren’t serving. Sometimes we just need to find a way to serve.
To live like Jesus means to actually live like Him. That may seem redundant and it may seem obvious but Jesus came to serve. He came to seek and save lost people. Our boredom is often an indicator that we have lost our purpose. We have settled for a small amount of God but have not been living in the passionate pursuit of love, grace, mercy, compassion, and the Holy Spirit which Jesus walked in. Nothing in Jesus is boring. So if your faith is boring you aren’t living like Him. Quite a challenge.