BY PAUL DUNK
Whether you're a fan of the School of Rock legend or not, there's no denying that Jack Black knows how to own the moment when he's given one at the Oscars.
I'll never forget the song he did with Will Ferrell back at the 2008 Oscars which I felt was slow-clap worthy.
The vocal prowess of Black crescendos majestically as he sings "you're boring" at the end of each stanza. The silky smooth harmonies that flow effortlessly from Black & Ferrell are on point.
That may or may not be exaggerated.
If there's one thing the church has a reputation for, it's that it’s boring. If there's one thing us preachers have a reputation for, it's that we're boring. The church has tried lots of tricks and gimmicks over the last few decades to unboringify ourselves. Despite our style charts, side parts and skinny jeans, people continue to look and say, "Meh" - and many of the "meh's" are coming from the church kids who have grown too old to remain in the whiz-bang CM funzones and have now graduated to the main service where the pastor is armed with nothing more than (gasp) a bible.
Changing the externals can't unboringify church.
We can have facilities like Universal studios, a worship leader who sings like Adam Levine and the communication skills and creativity of Jimmy Fallon - but if we don't give the people Christ, eventually, the church will tire of it. When that happens, the search for the next-big-thing to keep the church motivated continues.
Church services are sentenced to death-by-boredom when people don't get the one thing they can't get anywhere else: Christ for sinners.
There isn't anything more relevant than the forgiveness of sins to a room full of people who can't go one day without sinning and ironically, if we sacrifice preaching God's law & gospel on the altar of 'relevance' we have lost all relevance.
You can feed the poor, run a profitable business, love your family, live with Gandhi’s "be the change you want to see the world" ideology and free up your Sunday mornings. All of those are noble things, none of which requires this thing called 'church' and none of those things are this thing called 'gospel'.
But grace ...
Every Christian shows up to church having gone 7/7 sinning every day that week, yet God loves us and forgives us. He continually moves toward us so that by His Spirit, we will love Christ more than our sin more and more.
Sunday morning church is not a recurring self-help seminar whereby we come to hear about how to become an idealized version of ourselves.
The gospel is good news, not good advice. ~ Timothy Keller
That's not to say there isn't a place to have a coffee with your pastor and ask for practical advice, but make no mistake about it - the pulpit is for proclaiming news, not giving advice. That's not my opinion… that is literally what "pastor", "preach" and "gospel" means.
Church gets boring pretty fast when good news gets swapped out for good advice and the centrality of Christ takes a backseat to the centrality of church.
Nothing else in our life says, "Your performance is irrelevant, you are already accepted. It is finished. Come rest."
Christ must be preached weekly, from every text, to keep our hearts from making idols out of church activity, hoping that the-next-big-thing our church offers will keep revive us from our boredom.
If our hearts are not gripped by the amazing, scandalous grace of Christ that has come to us in-spite of us, we will be like children, sitting in a room full of toys complaining that we are bored.
If us preachers attempt to revive the church with anything else but preaching the gospel of Christ, then we are like parents running off to the toy store (conference) hunting for the next-big-thing hoping that it will satisfy the incessant cravings in the heart of a child who lives on the constant brink of boredom.
Giving people what they can't get elsewhere is the only hope for a "boring" church because our hearts are restless and they will remain restless until they find their rest in Christ alone.
Paul is a graduate of Knox Theological Seminary and the founding pastor of KW Redeemer in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. He is an MCO race school graduate, but presently his main hobby is drinking espresso because it's cheaper than fixing cars. Paul and Susan live in Waterloo with their three children.