Many of the newer movements in the Church today have the opinion that they cannot draw people into their facilities without some form of entertainment. These newer forms of church growth movements, or local churches which have simply changed their identification as to who they are and what they stand for, are determined to put people in the seats by one method or another and many times that involves some sort of entertainment. Gone are the days, in these cases, when Jesus was the main attraction; it seems now that some local church leaders don’t believe Jesus alone can draw the crowds. Entertaining the church and other stuff is now used to draw the people in and it is the use of some form of entertainment which attempts to keep them coming back. Whatever happened to Jesus as the main attraction for church services? Is Jesus still a focal point in any of the services? I have heard some of the teachings from some of these local churches and the topics are somewhat skewed when it comes to Bible related topics. In many cases, the most important object is to keep the people coming back; there may be a money driven factor or a debt issue which needs to ensure there are as many giving people in the seats as possible every Sunday morning! These are just guesses, very good ones, but still simply guesses. In ministry, I was always taught not to put the burden of unnecessary debt on the people. If a larger facility is needed, then the first phase of a building project or addition is prayer. The need is absolute but the solution is with God; He will direct and provide the funds needed to solve the problem. Calling the bank and then projecting future attendance is a backward way of meeting that need. So, there are many different reasons why these local churches feel the need to entertain the flock instead of telling them about Jesus. Putting Jesus first and teaching the people about Him will bring them in and keep them coming back. We have to understand the simple truth that some people will never accept Jesus as their savior and when we attempt to water down the message of the gospel in order to attract those who don’t care and will never care, we cheat those who want to know the truth. BUT….that doesn’t mean we try to only reach some and not others. When we know Jesus wants us to evangelize or be a witness, we don’t pick and choose who we will talk to. It is not a select group only who gets to hear the gospel message but we don’t water it down for some and hurt everyone in the process. This is the case in many local churches attempting to pump up the numbers and there is this idea that having a form of entertainment available is the way to keep them coming back. We can’t proclaim the gospel message by a means of secular entertainment or with a secular topic. If the gospel message of Jesus is not included, it provides nothing as a means to salvation.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Jn. 14:6 NKJV www.biblegateway.com
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? Rom. 10:14 NKJV
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. Jn. 6:47 NKJV
These are just three verses (there are many more) that state the truth concerning the gospel message of Christ. Nobody gets to heaven and into the presence of the Father unless they know Jesus as their savior. And, how will they ever hear about Jesus if the message is never preached? The message of the gospel and the teaching of Jesus must be taught in order for people to hear and be saved from their sins! Also, when this message is taught and people are saved, they will have eternal life in Jesus. Now, that is very simple, as put forth in these brief terms but, if the message is not given and the people do not hear, how can they be saved? Entertainment will not bring conviction to their hearts. Entertainment will not warm their hearts and draw them closer to the Lord. How then can entertaining the flock bring people to the Lord? It might keep them coming back to “the coolest church in town” but it will not bring them closer to Jesus and salvation. Why is it all about the numbers? Why is it important to have people crowding the sanctuary while breaking every fire code but never teaching them the truth? What has been accomplished? Isn’t it better to have 50 or 100 people attending, knowing and hearing the truth of the Bible and any one, new attendee getting saved, because that person heard the true message of the gospel instead of taking in some form of entertainment which might not even interest them? I’m sure I have mentioned this before in another writing but, it is worth mentioning again. There is a local church in the area where I live which is aired on a local Christian radio station on Sunday mornings; the opening for this program is the pastor’s welcome as he proclaims, “You won’t believe this is Church!” If I go to a Sunday church service, I want to know I’m in church! The idea behind this proclamation is a means to attract the unchurched. Ever since Rick Warren wrote The Purpose Driven Church, there have been churches all over the world attempting to play off of his ideas on church growth. So, one of those ideas is to present the Church as not the Church! It must be easier to attract people to a service if they think it is more like the world than the Church! Now, the particular church I referenced above really doesn’t need to use this ploy; this pastor is a good Bible teacher. I have heard some of his teaching on the radio and he doesn’t need gimmicks to draw people in; the message he preaches is good enough, he teaches the Bible in its truth and he does it in a way which will keep your interest but he seems to think he needs this “cool church image” to draw people in. The following quote is from a well known Church leader concerning the idea of entertaining the flock.
An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years it has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out as the Puritans did, the church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses. C. H. Spurgeon, The Church’s New Mission:
Entertaining the Masses?
The idea of entertaining the flock is not new in the Church as we can see from Spurgeon’s quote, it has simply taken on a new form. When we feel the need to compromise our service to God by entertaining the flock, we have not only diluted the message but, at times, have put Jesus in the backseat. We need to constantly ask, “Whose Church is it”? Is it our Church, the pastor’s Church? It is Jesus’ Church and when we put Him in the backseat, we are on very dangerous ground.
One other thought concerning this idea of entertaining the flock. Even for those local churches which always teach the truth of the word and are always putting Jesus in the spot light where He belongs, there are those times when the need is felt to bring in a form of entertainment as an attraction. When this is done at a time which does not include a scheduled worship service, it is a great tool for evangelism, providing of course it is a Christian form of entertainment. I have always enjoyed this type of outreach and it has proven to have tremendous results. But, is it really necessary to use a source of Christian entertainment to draw in the masses. This is the time of the year when many local churches are scheduling Sun Rise Services for Resurrection Sunday (Easter) and in many cases, there is a form of Christian entertainment scheduled to accompany these services. Some local churches schedule multiple performers for these services and it can be a bigger production then the regular scheduled morning service for this special day. I guess it is such a special event and celebration, as we remember what our Lord has done for us, we can overlook the over kill on the entertainment. The message is still focused on Jesus. We must remember that Jesus is, or should be, the object of our worship and the reason we gather corporately do to that. If a person is attending a local church to be entertained, by whatever means, their idea of worship is bent.
The Other Stuff
Well, I guess I have put so much of the focus of this writing on entertainment, I will not attempt to clutter the remaining space with too much of the other stuff. But, here is some food for thought, concerning the other stuff I might have addressed, had I not focused so much on the entertainment of the Church. The Catholic Church has selected a new Pope and as I watched the waiting of the crowds and then the reaction to the announcement of a new Pope, I could not help but think of how this boarders on idol worship. He is referred to as The Holy Father, His Holiness and is given the worship which is reserved for God alone. Just something to consider; would the crowds have waited for hours in the rain and cheered for Jesus if He walked out onto that balcony? OK, I know, that is who they thought it was!
One more piece of stuff. There seems to be a form of apathy running through the Church today; when many Christians and Church leaders are questioned about a topic which doesn’t thoroughly ring true, according to scripture, the response, very often, can be summed up like this,”It’s OK, don’t make such a big deal about it.” In recent years, there have been many books published which distorts the truth of the Bible. The Shack, The Secret, The Prayer of Jabez and most recently, The Harbinger. Without checking the true content and purpose of these books, Christians flock to the local book store and buy these up and read and believe without using any amount of discernment. These books become like a fad in the Church with people reading them and passing them on to friends and nobody stops to do the research concerning the truth or the error of these books. Sadly, it is not just the books, it is also teaching in the pulpits in this country. Many of the messages have a small part which twists and distorts the truth but many listening refuse to be a Berean (Acts 17:11) and check these teachers out. Are they teaching truth or are they teaching a lie. Christians need to be in their Bibles reading and studying,
Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15 NLT
How can we know, if what we hear is truth or lie, when listening to a Bible teaching? When we listen to a teacher/preacher, who we may not be familiar with, how can we know what he is saying is true? Check him against the word of God! Don’t have that apathetic attitude concerning truth; is it right to twist the true meaning of the Bible? Is it OK to change the scripture just a little bit so as not to offend someone? No! The answer is a definite no! The most recent of those books which I referred to, The Harbinger, has taken a prophetic message directed specifically for the nation of Israel and twisted and misinterpreted it to serve as a meaning of judgement against the USA. Now, for the diligent Bible student, it is easy to dissect and refute this misinterpretation of scripture. But, therein lies the problem; far too many people in the Church are willing to get their Bible knowledge from someone else. Take the time to do the research, study the passages, know the truth. Don’t follow the crowds into idol worship and don’t get you Bible knowledge from someone else and most of all, don’t have that apathetic attitude which has run through the Church like yeast through dough.