That’s Entertainment!

[This post is part of the worship series.]

Here’s an account of a worship service I attended once. It was worldly entertainment, pure and simple…

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I walked through the door of the worship space and noticed three things right off the bat. First, this church was obviously into modern technology. Second, they obviously wanted to make people feel comfortable. And third, they cared about numbers.

About five minutes before the service began, there was an instrumental solo. It was kind of like “music to mingle to” as people entered the room. Then the “worship show” began.

The vocal team entered the room in a bit of showy manner, moving in sync with each other as they made their way onto the stage. They were wearing similar outfits that made it clear that they were separated from the people in the seats. Nobody else in the room was even remotely dressed in such a way. Maybe this team just liked the attention?

They started the service with a performance song. I guess this group figured they needed to get our attention. The song was kind of loud and caused the crowd to react with vocal affirmation. Who was really receiving the glory, here, I wondered.

The Pastor was dressed in clothes reflecting modern culture. He approached the front of the stage, welcomed everyone and invited us to join him in prayer. Some did; others were obviously just listening to his well crafted presentational prayer.

What followed was two opportunities to sing along with the vocal team and musicians. The worldliness of this church became pretty clear during this time. Again, three things stood out.

First, in order for the congregation to “sing along,” they utilized extremely worldly methodology and tools. The same methods are used by the world for some of the most profane, lustful, and downright wicked purposes. Second, the music of one of the songs was actually from a secular song. Third, the lyrics of both were very “man focused.”

The entertainment factor continued with an “American Idol” style solo by a woman who obviously imitated the vocal stylings of a popular singer. Then for the next 40 minutes, the Pastor spoke while we sat, watched and listened. His sermon used storytelling techniques, persuasive speech methods and humor to get his message across. He embellished it with theatrics.

When it was all over, more instrumental music played us out of the room.

It is amazing how worldly and entertainment focused a TRADITIONAL, non-liturgical American worship service can be…

Worldly entertainment, pure and simple.

Wait. What kind of worship service did you think I was talking about? 🙂

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Confused? I understand. Let’s try that again, this time with descriptions and explanations included in brackets….

I walked through the door of the worship space and noticed three things right off the bat. First, this church was obviously into modern technology [Microphones, Electric Lights, Printed bulletins]. Second, they obviously wanted to make people feel comfortable [Pews were padded, Air-conditioning was utilized, bathrooms with running water were available.]. And third, they cared about numbers [Parking lot with parking spaces, Certain number of pews in the worship space, Tote board on the wall with Sunday School attendance displayed].

About five minutes before the service began, there was an instrumental solo [Organist played a “Prelude”]. It was kind of like “music to mingle to” as people entered the room. Then the “worship show” began.

The vocal team [Choir] entered the room in a bit of showy manner, moving in sync [Processional] with each other as they made their way onto the stage. They were wearing similar outfits [Choir Robes] that made it clear that they were separated from the people in the seats. Nobody else in the room was even remotely dressed in such a way. Maybe this team just liked the attention?

They started the service with a performance song [Song sung that doesn’t include the congregation in the singing]. I guess this group figured they needed to get our attention [A “Call to Worship”]. The song was kind of loud [10 or more people singing at the same time with accompaniment] and caused the crowd to react with vocal affirmation [Some people said, “Amen.”]. Who was really receiving the glory, here, I wondered.

The Pastor was dressed in clothes reflecting modern culture [A suit and tie]. He approached the front of the stage, welcomed everyone and invited us to join him in prayer. Some did; others were obviously just listening to his well crafted presentational prayer [A prayer spoken by one person – although in fairness, everyone is supposed to be participating.].

What followed was two opportunities to sing along with the vocal team and musicians. The worldliness of this church became pretty clear during this time. Again, three things stood out.

First, in order for the congregation to “sing along,” they utilized extremely worldly methodology and tools. The same methods are used by the world for some of the most profane, lustful, and downright wicked purposes. [Books (Hymnals)] Second, the music of one of the songs was actually from a secular song [“We Gather Together/We Praise Thee O, God Our Redeemer”]. Third, the lyrics of both were very “man focused.” [“We Gather Together” and “Amazing Grace”]

The entertainment factor continued with an “American Idol” style solo [Special Music] by a woman who obviously imitated the vocal stylings of a popular singer [Sarah Brightman]. Then for the next 40 minutes, the Pastor spoke while we sat, watched and listened. His sermon used storytelling techniques [Sermon illustrations], persuasive speech methods [Sermon had points] and humor [Quoted Will Rogers] to get his message across. He embellished it with theatrics [Moved his arms to emphasize a point.].

When it was all over, more instrumental music played us out of the room [Organist played a “postlude.”].

It is amazing how worldly and entertainment focused a TRADITIONAL, non-liturgical American worship service can be…Worldly Entertainment, pure and simple.

***

Ok, my tongue is now out of my cheek, and the truth is, I really don’t think that traditional worship services are “worldly and entertainment focused,” necessarily.

Relax.

It’s just that criticism of that sort should remove the log before pointing out the speck. – If there are really any specks or logs that need removing, that is…

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9 thoughts on “That’s Entertainment!

  1. You got me on this one. However to call a traditional worship service entertainment – I don’t know. If I’m seeking out entertainment, I’m not likely to go hear a choir (and I sing in a choir and a chorus – irony?).

    Still, the point was well made that the “worship format” wars are far from over. “Traditional” services do tend to be patterned on the old big-tent revival style. I really like the idea of shaking up the worship mindset of people and helping them see that God is not only found in music, preaching, prayer, offering. He is there no matter what and wants us to worship with all of our being.

    Nice post and a good way to shake up our thinking about how we worship and what we offer up as worship.

    I hope you and your family are doing well.

    In Him,
    -Peter Schott

  2. Hi, Peter!

    It’s good to hear from you.

    In this post I was just taking a popular notion and flipping it around a bit. I may have been a bit more “clever” than “clear,” though, so I have a follow up post on the way…

    Thanks for the kind words!

  3. Hi old friend. Wonderful to find your blog. I laughed out loud when you turned traditional on end. It really hit home. Recently changed churches and I am not one to cut and run. Worship at our new church is … ahh. Sometimes you don’t know what your missing until you find it. Praise to our Lord for leading us. God bless you and your beautiful crew.

  4. Pingback: 5 Ways To “Dumb Down” The Gospel « Johnny Leckie | the next step

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