Most kids think church is boring. No news there. But now, in classic man-bites-dog style, it’s a Catholic bishop who has made headlines by complaining that church is too boring!
Retired Philippine Catholic Bishop Teodoro Bacani claims that boring sermons are hurting the church’s market share, as many are seeking out the El Shaddai Catholic charismatic movement instead of their traditional Catholic parish.
Boring sermons may cause drowsiness in the Philippines, but according to the Bible, boring sermons can kill!
A certain young man named Eutychus sat in the window, weighed down with deep sleep. As Paul spoke still longer, being weighed down by his sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. —Acts 20:9
To avoid boring their congregation to death, Bishop Bacani recommends that priests learn a more effective and “livelier” way of communicating their message. For a religion that claims to offer the ultimate truths of life, creation, and heaven and hell, it seems superficial to attempt to repackage those eternal truths to accommodate the short attention span generation.
A more reliable solution is to know which Bible passages to avoid in the first place! So as a service to preachers everywhere, I offer this Do Not Read List of The Bible’s 6 Most Boring Passages. Attempting to read these passages may not be mortally monotonous, but they could easily cause a loss of tithing churchgoers. And as most preachers know, to quote the church leader in the movie Help!, “without the congregation there’ll be no…more…me.”
1. The Table of Nations: Genesis 10-11 (Genealogies of People You’ll Never Meet and You Couldn’t Care Less About)
And these are births of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and born to them are sons after the deluge. Sons of Japheth are Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. And sons of Gomer are Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. —Genesis 10:1-3
2. Setting Up the Tabernacle: Exodus 40 (Moses Puts up a Tent)
And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up. And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars…And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark. And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony…And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward, without the vail. And he set the bread in order upon it before the Lord…And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward…And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the vail. And he burnt sweet incense thereon…And he set up the hanging at the door of the tabernacle. And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation…And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal…And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work. —Excerpted from Exodus 40
3. Burnt Offerings: Leviticus 1-10 (Because the Lord Wants to Smell Burning Animals)
If the offering is a burned offering of the herd, let him give a male without a mark. He is to give it at the door of the Tent of Meeting so that he may be pleasing to the Lord. And he is to put his hand on the head of the burned offering and it will be taken for him, to take away his sin. And the ox is to be put to death before the Lord. Then Aaron’s sons, the priests, are to take the blood and put some of it on and round the altar which is at the door of the Tent of Meeting. And the burned offering is to be skinned and cut up into its parts. And Aaron’s sons, the priests, are to put fire on the altar and put the wood in order on the fire. And Aaron’s sons, the priests, are to put the parts, the head and the fat, in order on the wood which is on the fire on the altar. But its inside parts and its legs are to be washed with water, and it will all be burned on the altar by the priest for a burned offering, an offering made by fire, for a sweet smell to the Lord. —Excerpted from Leviticus 1
4. Curses for Disobedience: Deuteronomy 28 (Before Hell Was Invented, Curses Were God’s Way of Ensuring Good Behavior)
You will be cursed in the town and cursed in the field. A curse will be on your basket and on your bread-basin. A curse will be on the fruit of your body, and on the fruit of your land, on the increase of your cattle, and the young of your flock. You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out. The Lord will send on you cursing and trouble and punishment in everything to which you put your hand. —Deuteronomy 28:16-20
5. Historical Records From Adam to Abraham: 1 Chronicles 1-9 (It’s Like Hearing Stories About People You’ve Never Heard Of—But Without the Stories)
Adam, Sheth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalaleel, Jered, Henoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. And the sons of Gomer; Ashchenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. The sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabta, and Raamah, and Sabtecha. And the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan. And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be mighty upon the earth. And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim, And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (of whom came the Philistines,) and Caphthorim. And Canaan begat Zidon his firstborn, and Heth, The Jebusite also, and the Amorite, and the Girgashite, And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite. —Excerpted from 1 Chronicles 1
6. The New Temple: Ezekiel 40-43 (Now You Can Build Your Own Temple Without the Benefit of Blueprints)
Then he brought me into the inner court through the south gate, and he measured the south gate; it had the same measurements as the others. Its alcoves, its projecting walls and its portico had the same measurements as the others. The gateway and its portico had openings all around. It was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. (The porticoes of the gateways around the inner court were twenty-five cubits wide and five cubits deep.) Its portico faced the outer court; palm trees decorated its jambs, and eight steps led up to it. Then he brought me to the inner court on the east side, and he measured the gateway. It had the same measurements as the others. Its alcoves, its projecting walls and its portico had the same measurements as the others. The gateway and its portico had openings all around. It was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. Its portico faced the outer court; palm trees decorated the jambs on either side, and eight steps led up to it. —Excerpted from Ezekiel 40
Left for theologians to discuss is the age-old question of why God felt it necessary to include these insufferably long, repetitive, spiritually-bereft verses in a book that many believe is the actual word of God. They say God works in mysterious ways, and evidently sometimes he works in mind-numbingly tedious and uninspiring ways as well. It doesn’t seem to have hurt Bible sales too much. You do have to wonder how much more popular the Bible would have been if God had deleted these chapters and focused on penning some practical solutions to day to day problems people face: reliable nutrition information, disease prevention strategies, or detailed instruction on how to build your own bicycle.
So remember, preachers, avoid these chapters in order to keep your congregation coming back for more, and keep people from falling to their deaths like Eutychus.
Who might actually want to seek out these verses?
- People who never again want to be asked to choose the reading at their Bible study group.
- Priests who are ready to hang up their collar for good and want to go out in style with the longest and most wearisome Bible recitation ever.
- Insomniacs—even the Bible admits that it’s boring enough to put a king to sleep:
On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the Chronicles, and they were read before the king.—Esther 6:1
Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.