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Should The Church “Entertain”?

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Should the church entertain? It is an important question to ask in the open – because it is a topic that I often hear whispered about in churches across the country. This question usually comes up when new technology is added: new sound system, new lights, new projection, new leadership style, new decor…somehow the statement of various sorts emerges:

“That’s not how we’ve always done it.”

“We should have spent that money on missions.”

“I don’t like it.”

It seems that most of the problem comes from a comfort level that gets rubbed when we start embracing a level of entertainment. To be honest – this has been an age old process. I wanted to take a few moments and address the question: “Should The Church Entertain” as well as the most common statements people make against such changes.

Should The Church “Entertain”?

Absolutely. Should the church be about the entertainment? Absolutely not. The truth of the matter is that our nation is completely captivated by entertainment. There is always something that can capture their attention. Jesus saw this problem as well during his time. This is why Jesus used parables – stories of “entertainment” of the day – to make HIS points known. Jesus knew that people could relate the stories of the time – and that He could make sense of the Truth He was sharing by relating them to the stories.

Its the same reason that Jesus chose particular venues. I have seen churches come unglued and split over a sound system. “Jesus didn’t need a big sound system to preach His message,” they say. First of all – this statement is ridiculous. These same people would never go to a play or a movie and have lines spoken without a sound system without yelling “hey, I can’t hear!” Imagine their surprise when someone would retort “Jesus did it without a sound system…why can’t you hear?” You see, the truth is that Jesus used the technology available at the time to aide in having His Word heard. Perhaps it was a large hillside that served as an amphitheater. Perhaps it was the acoustics of the temple to speak to those who taught at the time. Whether it is venue or method of delivery – Jesus understood the value of entertainment.

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“That’s not how we’ve always done it.”

No – and you aren’t always going to do it this way either. The truth is that most of us have gone through other changes that we may have thought were huge and that we would never get beyond…and now – they are the common norm. I can vividly remember the day one church I was involved with moved from hymnals to transparency projections. You would have thought someone said “Jesus is not real” instead of “we want to try something different with the way we look at our song lyrics.” I’m sure some of you may have even been in the same boat. How many of you , now, would kick and scream if you went back to transparencies? You see – we have come a long way since then. We moved from transparencies to this thing called PowerPoint to motion graphics with programs like ProPresenter to full environmental projection. No, it may not be how you’ve always done it – but I can assure you…God IS more relevant than you will ever think you are…and He is already knows the NEXT big thing and how we should best use it.

“We should have spent that money on missions.”

This one is, perhaps, my biggest sore point. I get sad when I hear someone say this. Church, let me be blunt with you:

Your church IS a mission.

Don’t ever mistake this fact. People in your area are going out of town to find good entertainment – your church needs to be doing what it can to be central to the culture. If you can honestly say “I would rather people in our community go _________ than desire to come to our church...” then it is time to call it quits. Be the mission in your hometown. Does this mean you don’t focus on outbound missions? Absolutely not. If your church isn’t focusing on this at all – then there likely needs to be a heart-check.

“I don’t like it.”

The bottom line is that it simply isn’t about you. Each thing that we do – albeit that the world may see value in entertainment – is designed for worship to God. Aaron, the High Priest who was allowed to enter into the Holy Place, wore garments that many today would have looked at as “flashy” and “way too much”. The garments were for God’s glory…not Aaron’s. As I look around a church that has a great lighting system used lovingly for worship, a sound system that allows God’s Word and love songs to Him to be heard clearly, and generations worshiping Him together using it – I cheer.

So – should we entertain? Yes. Should we be only focused on entertaining? No. Our focus should be on worshiping God and bringing others to Him.

As I write this, I am eternally thankful to be a part of a dynamic church at New Hope Church in Williston, ND who is currently building a church in oil country. This region does not see a wealth of opportunities for “entertainment” – and is building a 7.4 million dollar expansion onto the existing church that will also serve as a community activity area. A daily (open until 10pm) coffee shop, indoor playground, and many other things (yes…lights and sound) are a part of it. I talk daily with people young and old who are a part of this church – those who are contributing financially to seeing it being built – and I am so encouraged to see and hear from an undivided span of generations who are seeking the same goal. I LOVE MY CHURCH…and I love being one of their pastors. 🙂

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