Should Church Be Entertaining?
I recently went to see the latest Star Wars movie. I know some people didn’t think it was all that; however, I am a Star Wars freak—I have seen every movie multiple times and I could watch them all again…today. I was so engulfed in the story that I didn’t even get up to use the restroom; in fact, hardly anyone moved during the entire movie. The movie was well thought out, it completely engaged me—there were creative elements that I had never thought about before…and I left completely satisfied. (OK, I was disappointed as well because the whole Star Wars movie thing is over.)
But get this—on my way out of the theatre I did not hear one single person say, “That’s it, I am never coming to this place again—all it contains is bells and whistles and that movie was WAY too entertaining.”
What if you were leaving the movie and you did hear someone make that comment. You would probably think, “Stay away from that dude—he is on the crack rock!” Why? Because movies are supposed to be entertaining—and we Americans love to be entertained. We go to concerts, plays, we watch television, purchase movies—the entertainment industry has captured our attention.
But for some reason when the church tries to capture the attention of the people coming it causes a few people to begin to say, “All that church wants to do is entertain people.” My question is—what is the problem with that?
One of the definitions I once discovered for entertainment is, “To hold someone’s attention for a specific period of time.” If that definition rings true for entertainment—then I am completely guilty because I desire to hold the attention of the people attending New Spring every Sunday. I would much rather entertain them than bore them to death!
Here at New Spring we strive for creativity, we purposefully think through each and every thing that we do. We happen to believe that the people walking through our doors on Sunday morning are worth an incredible amount of time and effort. You may choose to call this entertainment—I call it honoring God & serving people.
People have challenged me on this before, “Perry, where in the world did you ever get the idea that it is ok to entertain people. You just need to stick to ‘preaching the Word,’ that is good enough.” I always respond, “Well actually I got the idea by reading the Word!” Walk with me through this for a moment.
When God wanted to communicate to Balaam what did He do? He didn’t speak to him from a well dressed preacher with really bad hair and a KJV—He used a donkey! Say what you will—but that HAD to be a sight…and I think God smiled—He captured Balaam’s attention in a unique way—that’s entertaining. (See Numbers 22 for the story)
When Jesus wanted to communicate to people that He could heal He did not say, “Turn with me in your Bibles while I teach you line by line and verse by verse on the subject of healing.” Nope, look at John chapter nine—he found this blind dude, spit on the ground, made some mud pies, and then stuck the mud in the blind dude’s eyes! (Keep in mind—this had to have been a lot of spit.) Then He told the blind guy to go wash his eyes out in a pool. This had to have seemed to be a cruel joke by the onlookers—but when the guy did it his eyes were opened…and he then went on to give one of the most powerful testimonies of Jesus ever, “I was blind but now I see!”
Over and over you see this in Scripture—when God wanted to communicate to Jonah he used a big fish, when He wanted to communicate to Peter not to worry about money He sent him fishing and told him there would be money in the mouth of the fish. (I don’t know about you—but I would have tried to catch a few more fish before coming home!) When the apostle Paul went to Mars Hill the Spirit led him not to just “preach the word” but to begin to actually quote the poets of the area. God is into creative communication.
In fact—I would take it this far—as my friend Ed Young says, “If church is boring then it is a sin!” Why should Hollywood get the credit for being creative? The church has the power of the Holy Spirit—who empowers creativity. The church should be the most exciting, energetic, creative entity on the planet—period.
One more thought—whenever Jesus communicated He did so creatively. He was always telling stories and using real life examples; however, His creative communication always had a point. I do disagree with churches being creative with no purpose in mind. Here at New Spring we strive for creativity—but there is always a purpose.
So should the church be entertaining? YES—the people walking through the doors deserve to be engaged. I am tired of hearing, “just preach the Bible and God will grow the church.” I will say that every church that I have ever been in during my 33 years of existence on this planet has always preached the Bible; however, church attendance is declining in our nation year after year—seems to me there has got to be something more!
The people walking through the doors of our churches are worth our time and effort…and if in entertaining them they come to Christ—then what is the problem?