An Open Letter To All The Pastors I Know

boring churchMy dear, good friends. I want to start this letter by saying how much I love each and every one of you and I want to commend you for the work you do; you teach us, inspire us, lead us and, on occasion, correct us. You play a hand in making Sunday mornings a time of regeneration and restoration that allows those of us in the pews to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and survive one more week. Thank you for that. However, with this exaltation, I must include an admonition: you’re kind of boring.

I know it’s not all your fault; all too many of you are bound to the Lectionary and, let’s face it, there’s only so much you do with that thing. I mean, seriously, there are so many interesting scriptures that, evidently, aren’t included in that dry, dusty old tome the lectionary. Like the one about Elisha and the bears. I’ll grant that it might not have a lot of utility in today’s world (except maybe teaching kids to respect their bald-headed elders), but you have admit it’s one of the more interesting passages in the Bible. I’m not sure how you’d use it, but I’m confident you could figure something out. That is why you make the big bucks, you know.

In most churches, worship isn’t really set up for people like me (with ADD) and that’s a problem. We need something along the lines of an energetic Pentecostal service or the rock concert atmosphere of a good megachurch. But, there’s a problem with both of those models: the theology. Pentecostals tend to get bogged down in minutiae like whether men should wear beards or not. And the megachurches? Those things are so vapid  as to be almost theology-free. But, bad as they are, they’re almost preferable to sitting in a cold-ass pile of stones with the frozen chosen, reciting creeds and singing hymns that lost their meaning years ago through sheer repetition. But, hey, maybe that’s just me.

Unfortunately, the Pentecostals and the megachurches don’t have a corner on bad theology. Michael Usey (pastor of College Park Baptist Church) said in one of his sermons that God is many things, but never tame or predictable. Unfortunately, all too often on Sunday morning, it seems like God is just that: a deity who isn’t challenging, who fits in a neat little box you can take out on Sunday and worship, while spending the rest of the week following your real god, be it money, power or any other idol might claim your allegiance.

Here’s the crux of this letter: the sad truth is that I have sat through too damn many potentially great sermons that fell flat because they were delivered with all the excitement of a legal brief. Understand this: unless you’re William Barber, standing in the pulpit and reading your sermon from a prepared script comes off more like a political speech than a prophetic word. And, more often than we should, that’s exactly how we congregants take it. Especially, when it’s an uncomfortable message we need to hear.

As I said at the beginning of this letter, I love you guys dearly and I felt I had to speak the truth in love. That truth is you’re boring the shit of us (well, me anyway). Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for confetti cannons and rock-and-roll light shows. But, would it kill you to liven things up? Just a little bit?