Should SBC churches seek to be entertaining? Should churches add entertainment to their worship services as a form of pragmatism in the name of attracting lost souls? I imagine many evangelicals would shout an emphatic “yes!” But, from Scripture, we have no evidence saying that we should “market” the church. We are to preach the gospel! Christians ask, “Why not both? Entertainment and Worship?” The reality is that no where in Scripture is corporate Worship’s primary goal to draw lost people to the King of kings and Lord of lords. The Scriptures emphasize the faithful proclamation of the gospel which God empowers to save souls through His Holy Spirit. Churches today within the SBC have lost the Scriptures’ commitment to God’s glory alone. In response to the laziness of Southern Baptists and the non-existent fervor for soul-winning in SBC churches, pastors have resorted to using unbiblical methods to get lost people in the doors of the church for worship. Pastors, God’s shepherds, have sought to adjust worship within the Body of Christ to appeal to those who are members of Satan’s kingdom.
I understand the heart behind this pursuit, but the sincerity of heart is ultimately irrelevant, for what churches have really done is exalted the opinions of God’s enemies–members of Satan’s kingdom–above the very commandments of a holy God. Thus, the end result is a hemorrhaging self-inflicted hole in our foot. Worship is intended for God’s saints. Can a lost person even worship God? The answer is No. Then, isn’t it utterly ridiculous to try and make worship appeal to them? For, in vain they worship a holy God who demands repentance before worship is accepted. Twenty years from now, as the culture changes, so will the pragmatic church. For the sake of numbers now, we have grown entire generations up on entertainment in the church, and they expect nothing less. What they grow up accustomed to, they will always expect. If you “save” them using entertainment, then they will continually expect entertainment to be part of the church. Thus, at the beginning moment when entertainment became part of Southern Baptist Churches, we shot ourselves in the foot, and now, we are hemorrhaging.
Preachers today are expected to somehow keep the attention of their hearers. Many Christians in our pews evaluate how good a preacher is based on how well he can keep their attention. It’s amazing how entertainment added to the message depreciates the responsibility of the hearer to simply listen because God’s word is being proclaimed. The prophets and apostles had the ears of the people due to their authority from God. Today, the Word of God carries the same authority… and when men faithfully preach the text, then the Word automatically demands that hearers listen, for God is audibly speaking. It is an utter shame, a wretched, pitiful site for the church to expect theatrics to accompany the plain preaching of God’s Word. If God or the prophets or the apostles were standing, proclaiming God’s Word to them, would they expect the same? Of course they would! For, they do this now with the very words of God being preached to them. Neither Jesus Christ, nor Paul, nor Peter could pastor many of our churches today, for they would not be entertaining enough.
Finally, the generation who seeks a drop of entertainment in the message, will raise a generation who seeks a cup, followed by a generation who seeks a bucket, etc. The reason for this progression is that the culture has eisogetically read its thirst for entertainment into the text, and thus, as the culture’s desire for entertainment increases, the church’s pursuit of entertainment will increase to satisfy this thirst. The sad reality is that the more a culture thirsts for entertainment, the less it thirsts for God. God is more valuable and enjoyable than entertainment, and Christians cannot feed those who worship entertainment more entertainment in hope that they’ll repent of their idolatry and run to Christ for salvation. It’s the equivalent of saying, “So, you worship entertainment? Well, Jesus is entertaining too.” That’s not repentance; it’s using Jesus to get what you want. Repentance is denying yourself and following Jesus. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). Jesus was not very pragmatic…
My prayer is that this trend will stop soon enough before our entire denomination is bled dry, or before the leg is severed in order to save the rest of the body.
What are your thoughts?