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Boring? Maybe, but Worth It

The Internet and social media are full of articles about people who have given up on religion and churchgoing.

I get it. People ask themselves why they need it. Compared to the excitement and visually and auditory stimulation of the media, church may seem boring. They may have grave doubts about God’s existence. They may be scandalized by the behavior of some clergy members. Some age groups may find religion “embarrassing,” and believe that church is for old people.

I’m skeptical, however. I believe people need church more than ever. And if you find church boring, is it the church’s problem or yours? If you’re scandalized by the behavior of the clergy, you’re not paying attention to what our society is like, and you’re letting actions of others determine yours. The benefits of religion are timeless. Young people stand to gain more than the old, in my opinion.

The Human Condition

Now, regarding doubts about God’s existence. Doubts about everything is the human condition. I’m sure many atheists have doubts about their position. I know scientists have doubts about scientific theories. In my view, the worst thing you can do if you have doubts about God is to give up on God. And going to church can help you have a relationship to God and others.

But you may have to find the right church. My wife, Amparo, and I are so lucky to have found a Catholic parish, not far from our home, that is a near-perfect (Nothing is perfect.) fit for us. It is welcoming and participatory. The pastor, a 40-something priest from Poland (who speaks English very well), is reverent in the way he leads the liturgy and gives well-prepared and well-delivered homilies that speak to people where they are.

Evidence of the church’s drawing power is its growth in a Denver suburb of young families, young single people, the middle-aged and the elderly. The parish is adding 20-30 families a month.

Not Easy

Finding such a church may not be easy, but the search is worth it.

Author Amy Julia Becker recently wrote an enlightening article on churchgoing for the Religious News Service.

“Sometimes church is boring. Sometimes it feels superficial. Sometimes it seems irrelevant.

“Theoretically, (the) connection to Jesus could happen in the comfort of my own home or with access to a sermon podcast or a livestreamed service. Except Jesus said we find him where two or three of us are gathered together (Mt. 18:20). He said he is present in and among the people I am least likely to encounter in my everyday life (Mt. 25:34-36), and I often encounter those people at church.

“At church, I am both taught about Jesus and given an opportunity to live as he lived: to slow down and listen to people who are oppressed; to upend social structures; to reject power and position; to move toward the ones in need without judgment; even, sometimes, to love my enemies.

Our Spiritual Lives

Many people want to be “spiritual,” but not religious, as if those two ideas were mutually exclusive. I suspect that without church (or synagogue), being “spiritual” doesn’t happen. We may do everything we can to stay in shape physically and emotionally but may give little thought to staying in shape spirituality. Do we really do what is needed to foster and nurture our spirit?

Many religions, including Christianity, have thousands of years of experience in helping people with spirituality.

Becker recognizes this.

“…I want to step away from the to-do list of my life and enter a literal sanctuary at least one time each week,” she writes. “I want access to the things that psychologists say bring healing to our bodies, minds and souls — singing together, caring for one another, receiving forgiveness.”

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