Church is boring. It doesn’t diminish the truthfulness or usefulness of the thing to say it, but it’s true. Whenever my kids complain about church being boring, I consciously abstain from trying to put some entertaining spin on a pioneer or scripture story, because I’ve already got to lie about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, and maintaining the act that “church stuff is actually REALLY cool”, is just one too many balls to juggle.
I’m fine with teachers bringing nerf bows to class to involve the kids in a re-creation of Samuel the Lamanite, but I think it’s actually counterproductive to try and pass the scriptures off as entertaining. The scriptures contain incredible, moving and useful things. Why can’t that be enough? It’s an instruction manual for our lives, and last time I checked, I’ve never read an instruction manual for its story or plot development. I’ve read instruction manuals because I needed to assemble a play kitchen from Walmart, it had 4,000 small plastic pieces and I didn’t have Mark Watney’s direct line to walk me through it.
“Dad, I’m sooooo bored,” my kids say. Well, what did you expect? We didn’t exactly stroll through the turnstiles to Disneyland this morning. I don’t want my kids to dread going to church, but I also don’t want them to come to church with the expectation of being entertained. That shouldn’t even be in the cards. Life isn’t one big freaking circus and we’re all not your dadgum clowns (and this is coming from a father whose parenting is rife with clowning).
Stuff is boring sometimes, but that boring stuff can also be incredibly useful and rewarding. The quicker our kids internalize this fact, the better off they’ll be. “I’m soooo bored at church.” Well guess what? So am I, and I have been for 31 years. It doesn’t mean that the experience isn’t worthwhile.
I’ve recently heard a lot of talk about how we need to get our youth more involved in genealogy because of their computer skills.
“They’re so much better at it than us! It comes so natural to them now that it’s all on the computer!”
This is all true. Kids with computer skills can run circles around 95 year old Brother Brown in a head to head indexing challenge. That’s fine. But the pitch to the youth for more involvement in genealogy unfortunately doesn’t stop there.
“What we need the youth to realize is that genealogy can be so much fun! They can challenge each other to see who can do the most names in a month and it really starts to get addicting.”
Stop. Please. Just stop. You know what’s fun for a teenager? An Xbox. You know what’s addicting? Porn. That’s what your competing against in the field of entertainment. Churchy things can dabble over in this field, but they shouldn’t really stay to compete. They should play to their strengths, which lie elsewhere.
If there’s one thing the rising generation is expert on, it’s on being entertained, and you just come off looking like a loon when you try and convince them that there’s nothing as exhilarating as work for the dead. And if you have a kid that actually admits that he’s having fun doing genealogy, please send me a note and I’ll put his name on the prayer roll. I shudder to think what’s going to happen when that kid finally stumbles across Call of Duty for the first time. It’ll be a dopamine overload only rivaled by his wedding night.
Genealogy can be rewarding, spiritual and revelatory. That should be enough. If you can’t get a teenager to do it by those merits, then duping him or her into doing it because “it’s fun” is not going to work. And if that teenager is duped into doing genealogy for the entertainment potential, then he or she most likely lacks the mental facilities to perform genealogy in the first place.
And why do we talk about “catching the Spirit of Elijah” like it’s some kind of spiritual flu strain?
“Did you have Brynlee Johnson over for a sleepover on Friday?”
“Yeah, the girls had a great time, why?”
“I just heard she came down with the Spirit of Elijah yesterday. She was up all night indexing.”
“Oh darn it, I knew it was going around. She seemed fine just the other day.”
The only way I would want my kids looking to the scriptures and church for entertainment is if Ubisoft made an Assassin’s Creed with Captain Moroni as the main playable character. Until then, I want my kids looking to the scriptures and the church for enlightenment. That should be enough.
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