“BOREDOM has become a major societal trend,” writes USAToday columnist Walter Shapiro. Newsweek laments the “bland chic” of generic stores and products that look the same everywhere. Social researchers at Yankelovich Partners conclude that America is locked in a “boredom boom,” in which much of our lives seems like the “same-old, same-old.” We’re bored with politicians, celebrity gossip, ads in magazines, TV programs, even vacation destinations.
“Everything is predictable,” suggests Yankelovich. Shapiro agrees, noting that caller ID means we don’t even get surprise phone calls anymore!
We are, warns one study, “over-stimulated and under-satisfied. What’s missing is the ‘Wow’ factor in life.”
Boredom in Churches
Unfortunately, many of our churches are not exempt from this boredom. We may call it apathy, or lack of passion, or fatigue. But for many, there’s a growing “tedium” to discipleship- even in churches exploding with activities and programs.
As I look at the evangelical movement today, I often ask: Where’s the “rebellion against the status quo” (David Wells)? The “beneficent sabotage” (C. S. Lewis)? The “prophetic praying” (Donald Bloesch)? The “wrestling with God in prayer” (Epaphras in Col. 4:12)? The “asking, seeking, knocking,” best translated as “constantly begging, digging, and hammering away” at God (Jesus)?
In other words, where is the spirit of urgency that has marked Christians who are alert to extraordinary times? How often have I peered across the landscape of my generation, and… yawned? Many of us have. Worshiping and serving with the “same-old, same-old,” pampered in our predictable pews, over-stimulated but under-satisfied, multitudes of us have rolled over and gone back to sleep on the kingdom and the King. How else can we explain the meager impact that 40 million evangelicals have had on our collapsing culture?
Leaving Behind the “Same-Old”
To be sure, the summons to rebellion can be heard at times throughout the land: a million men repenting as they “Stand in the Gap”; the “Fasting & Prayer” gathering which, this coming November, will celebrate its seventh year by down-linking two days of intensive intercession at over 10,000 satellite sites nationwide; Jesus Day this past June, which activated hundreds of thousands to minister in cities from coast to coast; “The Lord’s Watch” in New York City which coordinates over 100 churches into year-round, day-and-night intercession over their city; the faithful pastor prayer groups meeting weekly in hundreds of communities to pray for revival in their churches; “The Call,” which is working to mobilize a million young people in Washington, D.C., for 12 hours of massive heart-cries to God for the reclamation of America. These initiatives speak volumes about the desire to leave behind the “same-old, same-old.”
But for all of us the choice is clear. We see a nation at the crossroads of God’s judgments. George Barna estimates that nearly 50 percent of those in our evangelical churches are “unconverted.” We’re confronted with the reality of nearly two billion unevangelized people worldwide. These things, my friends, are what should be stirring us to rebellion.
I’m describing a rebellion that says: “Things are not what God designed, not what He desires, not what He deserves! In Jesus’ name, I will not go back to sleep on Him any longer! I will not persistently ignore the crises around me. First of all, by prayer, I will pursue heaven relentlessly for a transformation of the status quo according to the promises of God. No matter what I call it-revival, renewal, awakening-it is the only hope we have!”
Rebellion and boredom simply cannot cohabitate. There’s never anything bland or boring for those who rally in prayer to the redemptive campaigns of “Christ the Victor!”
No Room for Boredom
There’s no room for boredom when we wrestle for blessings like Jacob (Genesis 32); empower battles like Moses (Exodus 17); dazzle pagans like Elijah (1 Kings 18); advocate liberation like Daniel (Daniel 9); pursue God to fill cities with His glory (Isaiah 62) or to shake whole nations with His presence (Isaiah 64); engage the Spirit to mobilize thousands as Christ’s ambassadors (Acts 4); throw back dark powers through the power of the Spirit (Ephesians 6); offer up prayers wedded, cause-and-effect-like, to the Consummation of the Ages (Revelation 5, 6, 8).
There’s nothing boring for the saints whose night-and-day appeals directly impact the unfolding of God’s justice in the earth (Lk. 18:7-8). I’m certain Jesus didn’t yawn as He challenged His disciples to such action. In fact, I imagine that His voice ignited the very “spirit of rebellion” He called for.
“Extraordinary” will mark the prayers of any Christian desperate enough for renewal to supplant the “boredom boom” through prayerful rebellion. Only that kind of renewal can put the “WOW!” factor back into your life.