Last week, “Disillusioned in Georgia” confessed that he is bored in church meetings and wanted to know if he was alone, and how he could remedy that boredom.  As usual, Meridian readers have come to the rescue.  They are full of suggestions to help the disillusioned gentleman — and the rest of us — find renewed joy in church meetings.  Here’s what they have to say:

I've been a member of the Church my whole life and very active also. I understand the being bored — everything is the same.  But I have finally come to realize a few things.

  1. Not everyone has been going to church since they were born.  What is the same ol', same ol' to those of us who are veterans in the Church is quite new to a lot of the people there.
  2. This is a church where members participate, and a church of service.  When there is a meeting that I know I'll hear the same things I've always heard; that it will be nothing new, I remember that someone unpaid and unschooled (at a college like some other religions) spent a lot of time preparing that lesson.  And they need the opportunity and experience to teach it.  It is a great service to those who are called as leaders for us to attend the meetings and functions that they so lovingly and obediently prepared for us.  A lot of times the callings and the lessons being taught are for the teachers and speakers, not the listeners, but we as listeners can be of service by listening attentively and participating in lessons, sharing things we've learned over the years.
  3. Be involved.  Even if you don't have a specific calling, you can be involved by being friendly to new converts.  Get to know the children (they love it when adults remember their names).  You can also help by setting up chairs or put away chairs or cleaning up at functions.  With two sons serving missions and a husband who has been a ward mission leader, I know how important it is to have members willing to have lessons taught in their homes, or give investigators a ride to church or hundreds of other things.

So in summary, my advice is yes, you've heard it all.  Do you do it all? And if so, when you are sitting in a meeting hearing it all again, remember that you are performing a service just by being there.


That’s great counsel, JDC.  It’s one thing to have heard everything, but quite another to have done everything.  No matter how much service we think we are performing, we can always do more.  That’s something we should always remember.

I think it was President Kimball who was asked once how he dealt with boring church meetings. The question seemed to surprise him and he replied that he had never found church meetings to be boring. Now, I assume that, over the years, he had been in sacrament meetings or Sunday School lessons that were not well prepared or were covering material that he had already heard hundreds of times.  His point was that we get out of our meetings what we are willing to put into them.

In my mind, one of the strengths of the gospel is that there is no new doctrine preached.  There are no secrets that are revealed only after attending meetings for x-number of years or serving in y-calling. Heavenly Father’s gospel is the same to one member as it is to another.  The gospel doesn’t change every so often.

Yes, we have heard a particular gospel doctrine discussed before, probably hundreds of times. But is that the only reason why we are commanded to attend church, to “offer thine oblations” on the Lord’s day (D&C 59:12)? I think that we are also to be there to renew our covenants and have our testimony strengthened for another week of living in the world, and to strengthen one another.

Attitude is so important. How about praying silently for the speaker as you listen? Contemplate how the doctrine being taught could be better followed in your own life. Pray silently to know Heavenly Father’s will for you regarding that principle.

When sacrament meeting or the lesson is over, why not seek out someone that you think might benefit from a little extra love and attention today? By blessing someone else’s life, we find our own life blessed.

President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” I might modify that to say, “Ask not what your ward can do for you; ask what you can do for members of your ward.” Church meetings are a good place to start that.

In Rural West Virginia

Attitude is everything, Rural.  I know that when I go to the small effort of reading the assigned lesson before going to Sunday School I get infinitely more out of the lesson.  It really helps not to sit back and wait to be fed, but to sit forward and help make the lesson better.  I don’t know why I don’t do that more often!

I can relate to disillusioned. I too have been in the Church around 40 years and have been a single dad for the last eight or so (I know we’re not talking about that, although it is relevant to the situation). Although the Church is sort of the same insofar as we have the same structure and lessons wherever you go, each ward and stake has a distinct culture. Some are more welcoming than others, some more critical, some more lively, and some more boring. My 16-year-old complains about going to youth firesides because all they ever talk about is what you can’t do. He’s great and faithful, attends early morning seminary, is the only LDS kid in his school and he is planning for his mission, but he can see how sometimes you need something fresh to keep your spirit alive.

Of course a lot of that is up to us as individuals — making an effort to get to know the people in our ward. Serving in callings and doing our part. No doubt lots of people will talk about praying and studying the scriptures, but that’s what your writer has been hearing all his life.

I have a testimony and am active in our ward. I don’t go to church expecting to hear new and scintillating takes on the gospel. I go for the sacrament and the people. Sometimes, just sometimes, a talk or a lesson or a conversation will bring the spirit into my life that day, give me new insight or just make me want to make the effort for another week. Whenever I have the opportunity to teach a class, I try to find some aspect of the lesson that interests me and incorporate that, hoping that it will also provide new insight for others.

Attending church is a habit, and it’s a good habit. I just need to keep practicing it.

Aussie Dad

Thanks for reminding us, Aussie, that you can be bored in church no matter where you live.  Thanks, too, for reminding us that whether we are bored depends in some part on our own behavior.


  If we look outward to interact with others, we may forget we’re bored — and that’s half the battle.



Disillusioned sounds depressed to me.  That said, without the Holy Ghost breathing fire into our meetings and our souls, it is the same stuff over and over.  The Spirit helps us relate what is said to our own lives and our own needs as we work out our salvation and draw closer to the Lord, with Earth life pulling us constantly the other direction.  Messages are repeated because we are all struggling with sin and the work of mortality and are at different places.  The Holy Ghost turns that “repetition” into living water as we drink it in. 

Yes, “disillusioned” sounds depressed, but also may need to tune up his tuner.

Leah from Washington State

You make a good point, Leah, that a medical issue may be involved.  Even if that’s not the case with “Disillusioned in Georgia,” boredom is one of the signs of clinical depression.  Those of us who are bored with life should at least rule out clinical depression before putting the blame on our wards or even on ourselves.  Clinical depression is easily treated, and treatment can make all the difference.  (I speak from experience here.) 

I know that more often than not, it seems like all we get at church is a rehash of what we have heard over and over again. However, I stop and think — how many times did I have to tell my children to clean their rooms, brush their teeth, feed the cat, or do other things before they began to do it on their own?

I feel I stand in the same relationship with my Heavenly Father as my kids stand to me. He is the father and I am the child. When I get it and start living the commandments on a Celestial level, then He can stop nagging at me about what I should be doing. Until then, I am going to hear over and over what I am supposed to be doing.

I have also noticed that those who complain the most about hearing the same things over and over, whether at church about commandments or at home about chores, are usually the ones who need the repetition the most. I remember hearing one of my professors at BYU saying, “There is no such thing as a boring talk at sacrament meeting — only bored listeners.” We shouldn’t be going to church for others to entertain us, or give us something exciting to hear or see. If we want to feel the Spirit at church, we need to bring it with us. We will get what we expect.

Sharon from Centerville, Utah

Sharon, I really resonated with your comparing what we hear in church to what you tell your children.  That’s so true, isn’t it?  I think that a lot of the suffering I’ve endured in my life is due to the fact that I haven’t learned lessons the first time they were taught to me.  To some extent, we are all like that.  Thanks for the reminder that God loves us enough to keep telling us the same things over and over again until we internalize them and act the way we should.

We all get bored with the same old-same old, and we all have ups and downs. It is each individual’s responsibility to make Sunday meetings meaningful.  We don’t have paid ministers; we all take turns, and not everyone is a great or even mediocre speaker.  It takes work to stay interested, and “Georgia” said he is lazy.  Maybe that is more the problem than boredom.

Susie, in SoCal

You’re right, Susie.  We can’t just sit there like baby birds, opening our mouths and expecting to be fed.  There’s some effort involved.  If we don’t choose to make the effort, we may not eat.

Happiness is something you judge at the end of the day.  When the trials and joys of life can be put in perspective, we can hit our knees grateful for whatever meaningful experiences and say, “Thank you, Father, for another day of life.”  The opposite is one who rises in the morning determined to make him-/herself happy.  The former turns outward to how we can be of service; when our heart is right we look to serve and find joy in the effort.  When we turn inward to our own pleasure we miss the real and lasting “joy” that is found in following Christ.  He sought to serve, we coveted the same.

My advice is to find a passion for some part of the gospel (family history, for example) and go about teaching your friends outside of Sunday meetings.  Ask those you care for — members or non-, “Would you like to know more about your ancestors?”  Then, be the conduit that connects them to Heaven. 

Oh, I know that this isn’t easy.  You don’t have a computer, you don’t have your own history done, you don’t even have an interests and your are convinced that your neighbors don’t want you to “bug them.”  Well honestly, all of these excuses are bogus. Allow faith to take over.   Face whatever challenges and tumult that might come as a result of this service and allow yourself to be swept away in doing good. Sunday meetings then become a time to catch up with those you are working on how the week’s research is going.  You will share stories of miracles.  Really, you will!

You may say this is too simplistic, and it probably is, but that it the beauty of the tender mercies of the Lord.  If we don’t need what comes for others serving us, you need what comes from serving others.  So says the “Book of Bob.”

Been there too.


Thanks for a great solution, Bob.  There are so many facets of the gospel that we can choose to be passionate about that there’s enough room for everyone.  I think of Meridian writer Carolyn Nicolaysen, who writes the emergency preparedness articles.  And there’s another Meridian writer, also named Carolyn (Allen) who lost a lot of weight and now writes about healthy eating.  These are people who have found a passion and, in the process, have changed a whole lot of lives.

I too, am single, and that has nothing whatsoever to do with what you get out of church.

I hate to sound condescending, but if you are hearing the same message, it must be time to stop and listen to it.  It reminds me of the church lady from “Saturday Night Live,” back in the day — if you feel that way, it must be Satan!  But really, this is not an issue that can be blamed on anyone else at all.  You get out of church what you allow yourself to.  Some time spent in earnest prayer with our Father will certainly lend to solving this problem better than any of us can say, as this is a question of what is in your heart.  I will be glad to add you to my prayers, as well.  Hope you find your way home.

Tess in Vegas

That’s good advice, Tess.  Thanks for sending it.

I want “Disillusioned in Georgia” to know he is not alone in his feelings. Church attendance can be difficult for some for various reasons.




I, too, have been a member for more than 45 years and have heard the same things over and over again. There are times when I find it’s just easier to not go as I feel I’ve heard it before. The times when I feel like it doesn’t matter if I go to church or not is when I find I need the association with others more than anything else.

Weeks that I don’t attend church, for whatever reason, I make sure I reach out to various ward members or friends in the area. Many times I just send an email, a note in the mail or a short phone call just to say hello, see how people are doing and if they need anything. Often I try to get together with ward members and friends in the area during the week. Many may think it’s insignificant, but I’m always touched when someone contacts me personally.

I’ve also found that many times the topics of lessons and talks aren’t any different than what I’ve already heard, so I will spend time researching a topic or thought such as hope or the atonement and write my own personal essays on these topics. I enjoy later going back and re-reading these personal essays.

These things are not a replacement or a substitute for church attendance, but they help me feel part of a ward that I may not always feel part of and participating in a religion that can be difficult to live at times.

Living in DC

Reaching out to ward members can be a real help, Living.  There are a lot of lonely people out there, and Disillusioned may be one of them.  When you’re lonely yourself, the best thing you can do is to reach out and comfort other lonely people.  After all, who knows better than you how loneliness feels?  A phone call or a note can make a world of difference in someone’s life — and that someone may be you.

Whenever my life has seemed the same with or without church, I have usually found that it is my life that needs changing, not the Church (meetings).  When my personal prayers, scripture study and attempts for service are consistent and daily, I naturally see church meetings as opportunities to learn from and teach others.  Life is not that different for most humans, and the topics covered in church are the topics we need to hear about.

A learned and revered man of God once said he never attended a boring sacrament meeting.  His time there was devoted to worshipping Christ, and did not depend upon the contributions of others, but was often enhanced by them.

Another person once said that when a “poor” speaker began his/her talk, he would take the topic and give himself a talk on the same subject, using scriptures and finding that he learned a great deal each time, as none of us know everything about anything. 

As a seminary teacher I am reminded often of one or two things that can be used in my upcoming classes, and sometimes I hear something completely new that was meant just for me.

Sometimes I find myself praying earnestly for a speaker who appears especially ill at ease or nervous, and this prayer sometimes lasts throughout the entire talk. I don’t always hear what the speaker has to say, but we’re put on earth to serve at least as much as to be served.

I used to be miffed when speakers obviously hadn’t prepared, but I don’t want to spend any of my life nursing unnecessary anger, so I began trying the “give myself a talk” and pray for the speaker habits, and I get so much more from church.

Penny A. Douglas

Rainier, Washington

Thanks for some solid ideas, Penny.  I know it helps children to pay attention when they draw pictures based on people’s talks or take notes on those talks, and that can also help us older people.  Meditating on what you would say if you were assigned the same topic can also be a great help.

I am in my mid-fifties and have been a member of the Church all of my life (I also happen not to be married).  I have experienced spiritual doldrums in my life, and it has usually been when I’ve been just worn out physically and emotionally.

In my forties, I discovered that, while I wasn’t learning a whole lot of “new things” about the gospel, I was gaining greater understanding of the simple truths I already knew.  This continues to the present: I find Sabbath observance and worship to be refreshing and renewing to both body and soul.   Even the same talks and the same lessons on the same subjects tend to refresh my memory and consciousness, bringing back to the foreground important things that slip into the background over the weeks and months.

The New and Everlasting Covenant has been around forever, but it is “new” because it is always fresh, vital, and vibrant.  It can be plumbed to endless depth.  There is always something more to understand about it.  If we don’t dig deeper at church, I dig deeper at home.  I make time every week, usually on Sunday, to do this on my own. I do this intellectually but also spiritually as well.

If I feel “stuck,” which I occasionally do, I pray for revelation as to what I can or need to do to get un-stuck.  Those prayers are always answered. Always.  Sometimes I don’t like the answers, but when I have the courage to do the thing I don’t want to do, or the thing that seems too hard or inconvenient to do, I am always rewarded with an infusion of energy and light.

This past January, at a stake conference in Pompano Beach, Florida, the visiting authority (whose name now escapes me) said a wonderful thing that has brought more light and energy to my life: “We can do hard things through the merits and the mercy of the Master.”  I found in my own life that it’s avoiding those hard, inconvenient, sometimes painful things that puts me in the doldrums.  Avoidance itself can be very hard work and offers little reward.  It’s taking the deep breath and starting to do the hard thing that is so often energizing and liberating.

In addition to surrendering to the Lord’s will and doing things I otherwise wouldn’t want to do, I try to schedule a decent chunk of time each week to do something I enjoy doing.  I don’t try to push uphill all week every week.  I make sure I get enough rest and if I’ve pushed a little too hard during the week, I take a nap on Sunday after church. [If I’ve pushed way too hard during the week, sometimes my nap begins in church!  But we try to avoid that!]

I enjoy participating in the activities of the Church, both the worship and the social activities. I feel included, accepted, wanted, needed, and loved by the members of my ward, both single and married.  There are children in the ward who know me and love me, and I them. Single people can become appropriately involved in the lives of children and bless both the children and the single person.


 I can think of little that is so sweet, enlightening, and refreshing as being involved in the life of a child.


No matter how “down” I feel, I have a few favorite authors that I can read that will brush away the blues.  My personal favorite is Abraham Lincoln.  I can read just about anything Lincoln wrote and it will dissipate any fog, breathe wind into my sails, put a new spring in my step and stiffen both my spine and my resolve.  (I think those who have experienced it will agree that there’s no feeling quite like that of wind catching a sail and propelling the boat forward.)

Helping someone who seems to have bigger problems than I have is pure religion and makes me feel good and adds perspective.

These are just a few thoughts I have about keeping my own life and worship alive and vibrant.  I hope that there is something that might help Disillusioned or others in the same situation.

Eugene C. Olsen

What a great letter, Eugene!  I especially liked the part about forcing yourself to do hard things.  I’m in a period of my own life right now when I’m in the middle of that process, and although it’s scary and hard, I know it is also going to be greatly rewarding in the long run.  Sometimes that “hard thing” may be going to church, especially if you’re single and don’t have anyone else in the household to put you in the habit of going every week.  But if you persevere, you will be rewarded.

I understand the feelings of not going to church because it’s the same old talks over and over and over again. I also understand how it feels to feel left out because this church is all about families. 

For many years my husband was inactive and I would go to church by myself. I got tired of looking at all of the families sitting together, when there I was sitting by myself.  I have been unable to have children and so all of the lessons about being a mother used to be hard for me.  But I have learned some lessons along the way. 

Yes, this church is all about families because the family unit is the basis for the Plan of Happiness.  No, not all of us will be married or have children in this life.  Yes, whether single or married we are still valued in this church.  The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that it’s all about my relationship with my Savior and that I renew my covenants by partaking of the sacrament each week.  I feel joy and an uplift if I allow myself to.

Satan doesn’t want us at church.  He wants us to think the talks are the same.  I’ve learned that it’s all in where my mindset is, and if I’m allowing communion with the Spirit.  Satan wants us to believe we don’t matter because our home teachers don’t come.  That’s a big, fat lie!  We matter in the Lord’s eyes and He wants us at church.  It all comes down to who we’re listening to.

My favorite story was one where a member asked President Kimball what he did when he found himself in a boring meeting.  President Kimball said he didn’t know because he had never been in a boring meeting.  That helped me realize that it’s up to me.

I hope this helps.

Wendy T.

Mesa, Arizona

Thanks for some terrific counsel, Wendy.  At one time or another, almost all of us feel as though we don’t measure up as far as our church membership is concerned.  It may be that we are single, or that we are married to nonmembers, or that we don’t have children, or that our children are inactive.  It may be any number of things that cause us to feel discouraged and that tempt us to disassociate ourselves from the Saints.  But it’s our job to look beyond those “shortcomings” and go to church anyway.  Sometimes we do it as an opportunity to serve others, and sometimes we do it just because we’ve been commanded to do so.  But if we go, we will ultimately be blessed.

That’s it for this week.  I still have a bunch of letters to run on this subject next week, so we’ll see you here then.

Until next time — Kathy

In order to live free and happily, you must sacrifice boredom. It is not always an easy sacrifice.

Richard Bach