Let’s face it, more often than not, Mormon church is boring. Our meetings are taught by the congregation. We have no paid clergy and no professional religious instructors, so we’re left with a hit and miss for quality sermons from the crowd. Perhaps if there was some jumping, dancing, and a live band, it might reset my interest level. However, if you’ve ever been to a Mormon church, you’ll find that singing all 37 verses of a Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief at a tempo of 30 can pretty much shut down your attention span for the entire day.
My new favorite Mormon voice, Adam S. Miller, spoke with the folks at the Maxwell institute about lame-o church services, “Boredom is a sign that church is working” (ref). Say what!? At first, I thought back to the Spencer Kimball’s response to the question, “What do you do when you find yourself in a boring sacrament meeting?” He replied, “I don’t know. I’ve never been in one” (ref). I always related that to a situation akin to someone asking the President of PepsiCo what they thought of Crystal Pepsi after its launch in 1992.
In essence, Miller is saying the boredom is the opposite of interest; interest is selfish; and church is to rid us of selfishness.
Boredom is an invitation to step outside the limit of what interests me and to instead continue practicing interest and attention to people and things that aren’t about me. (ref)
I suppose the same could be said of helping someone move on a Saturday morning instead of sleeping in, or any other church-service activity. Interest in people and things that aren’t about me. This is one of religions greatest aspirations and gifts to humanity when properly executed.
Next time you start falling asleep during a long winded trip-a-mony, hear a basic scripture quoted for the umpteenth time, take Miller’s advice, “When you notice yourself getting bored, don’t automatically run away or look for a diversion. Sit with it, see what boredom feels like, and see if something other than your self-interest can hold your interest” (ref).
Do you agree? Would you rather have a paid pastor who does nothing but write and deliver phenomenal sermons?