Let me say this: I get bored at church all the time, usually multiple times every Sunday. I don’t like sitting in meetings for three hours a day (with often an hour-long meeting before or after church). But I don’t think about how bored I am very often because when I am feeling that old ennui angst I chase it from my mind. This post explains why and how.
I bring this up because of this article, which seems to be getting a lot of positive attention. The author names five reasons Sacrament is dull. Let me make this clear, lest I be accused of criticizing the author: I agree with just about everything she writes. This post is not intended as a “take down” of her article. Instead, I simply share some thoughts that I have had when I am bored at church (which happens often, as I say).
1)You can’t let yourself be bored. I didn’t get baptized until I was in my ’30s, and one of the main reasons was I couldn’t imagine spending all that time in boring meetings when I could be going to the beach, watching football or going for a long run or bike ride followed by brunch. But I got an undeniable witness that the Church is true, followed by a long list of other personal testimonies. I have to go to Church on Sundays. I can either go with a good attitude or a bad attitude, and God wants me to have a good attitude. So if I start thinking about how bored I am I won’t have a good attitude. So it is I who must change (once again).
2)Sacrament meeting is not about me. We all know Sacrament meeting is about honoring the Savior and remembering Him and our covenants. But in addition to that, the often-boring talks are not about entertaining us (if it were, the whole experience sure would be different, wouldn’t it?). The talks are very often about a personal struggle that the speaker is going through. Have I thought about how difficult it was for her to prepare this talk or address this particular subject? Have I thought about how shy that young man is and how difficult it must be for him to get up in front of this group? Have I thought about the fact that this man’s wife just died of cancer two months ago and the struggle he must be going through? I find that when I think about things other than the subject matter and style of the talks I am less bored.
3)Repetition and calm repose seems to be among the things we’re supposed to learn at Church (for reasons I don’t completely understand). We are encouraged to go to the temple regularly. I have gone nearly every month since a year after my baptism. I could probably recite many passages of the endowment session from memory. I rarely have new feelings of blazing enlightenment at the temple anymore — but yet I still go every month. Why? Well, it seems to me there are many possible reasons, but at least one of them is that I personally need to learn patience and the ability to concentrate on The Big Things. The temple helps with that. Should I take that same feeling and carry it over to Sacrament meetings? Yes.
4)There must be a reason that the Church forces us parents through the torture of bringing our young kids to Church. There are churches that have separate rooms for kids during the equivalent of Sacrament meeting. Let’s face it: it is a pain dealing with young kids at Sacrament, both for the parents and the people around you. It interrupts worship and is sometimes noisy and annoying. Yet, we are expected to bring our kids to Sacrament (and hopefully take them out if they get out of control). Why are young kids in Sacrament? My personal feeling is that there is something they are supposed to learn about reverence. Being forced to sit quietly during a boring meeting is an important skill to learn (believe me, you’re going to need it when you are an adult sitting through boring talks!). I have noticed that my usually rowdy young boys are amazingly calm during Sacrament these days. Could it be they are actually taking in those lessons about reverence? It appears so.
5)If you are reading this, you are probably smarter than most people who give talks during Sacrament, so give them a break. I am on the lower end of Bloggernacle members when it comes to gospel knowledge but I am on the upper end when I compare myself to most people I know at Church. If I am bored, I find I am often thinking about how much better I could handle that subject and how much more knowledge I have. What a loser I am. If you have spent the time to read this post, you probably have more gospel knowledge than most people in your ward. Internalize that and just realize you are often bored because you know a lot. Humble yourself. I certainly need to.
6)You are bored at least in part because you are an electronic media geek and you are used to getting instant gratification. In the old days, people used to listen to Sidney Rigdon (a great speaker) and Joseph Smith (apparently not as great) talk for hours without getting bored. Why can’t I listen to my brothers and sisters talk for 20 minutes? At least one of the reasons is that all of this electronic media has trained us to get what we want fast and NOW! It takes time to get anything from a talk (if you get anything at all). I want instant entertainment and I get bored if I’m not getting it. What is happening to my brain?
7)You might want to try sitting in the front row. If your ward is like mine, the back row if the first one to fill up, but nobody ever seems to like sitting in the front row. The interesting thing about sitting in the front row is you have to concentrate on the speaker because there is very little else to look at. Every time I sit in the front row I find myself less bored because I am actually paying attention to the person speaking and thinking about the things I mention above.
8)Complaining about how bored I am is not going to change anything and it will probably make me more bored. This is somewhat related to point 1 above. Personally, I think the Sacrament format is done that way for a reason. My complaining about it is not going to change the format in any way. And I have found that if I spend my time thinking about how bored I am, I get more bored. So I try to think about other things, some of which I have mentioned above.
Again, the article I linked above makes some great points. This post is NOT a criticism of that article. For example, I agree that a training program for Sacrament speakers would be a great idea. I hope you were not bored reading this post.