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Friday, December 10, 2010

"Entertainment" within the Church

The subject of entertainment within the church came up in dinner conversation. I love paradigms, so maybe I can stir one up.

The use of entertainment within the church can be discussed from many different angles. The issue can become confused by raising questions such as “what do we mean by entertainment?”, or “what do we mean by using it ‘in church’?” We might argue that to some degree Christ himself used entertainment by using parables. Or we might say that folks followed Jesus, at least for awhile, because they found him to be entertaining. We might even say that, while scripture is filled with the message of God, it is also filled with entertaining stories. These and many more perspectives can be presented and discussed but they may not get to the heart of the matter.

Opinions vary but they certainly aren’t authoritative. If we are to engage this subject at all, we must first determine, from God’s authoritative source, the directives and purpose of the church. We are briefly informed in Acts 2:42, “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” But what was the underlying reason for doing these things? To those of us who claim to be followers of Christ, the very fact that we follow Him is because He is our Lord and our salvation. We are engaged in the business of Christ because that is our entire purpose for living. Our ultimate goal is to bring glory to God. The purpose, therefore, of the church, is to equip believers for service in God’s kingdom in order to bring God glory. How does “entertainment” fit into all of this?

As one who works within the audio visual field, I would like to clear up some misconceptions. I have used media within the application of the church but I would not characterize its use as being “entertainment”. I do believe the use of this tool should not only be informative, but should also engage and stimulate the viewer. Even so, my goal should never be for the sole purpose of entertaining my audience. I am speaking of its use within the church service where the dictates of Acts 2:42 are upheld.

Pastors and teachers often like to use a story or illustration to introduce their topic. Jesus too used this technique with his use of parables or life illustrations. Rather than entertain the audience, this is intended to prepare the audience for the topic at hand. This too can be used through the use of audio visual means. Skits and drama too can be a tool to introduce the teaching, but I hesitate to depend upon them as the only means of teaching. God expects us to use His Word.

Where we cross the line is when we forget and neglect the purpose of the church and fail to adherance to scripture. If we aren’t being led by Holy Spirit inspired scriptural guidance, we can end up becoming more like the world, rather than becoming more like Christ. We may begin thinking that we must use the methods of the world in order to reach the lost. We are admonished throughout scripture not to mirror the world, but to mirror Christ. Our culture has become saturated with every form of entertainment which have become idols, a God substitute within our lives, oftentimes without us even realizing it.

When a church uses the audio visual medium as the main means of bringing people to salvation, they are forgetting this one main admonition from God’s Word, (referring to Christ) “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Is there a chance that we are utilizing entertainment to accomplish what only Christ can accomplish? This appears to me to be the main issue to be addressed.

While the church is to be about the business of preaching, equipping, praying, breaking the bread of communion, worship, praise, and fellowship; I am of the position that there can be a place for an “entertaining” medium within the Christian community. Entertainment for the sole purpose of entertainment will not accomplish the goal of Christ-likeness. But entertaining and being entertained is truly a privilege from the Lord. The Lord Himself entertains us daily through the intrigue and beauty of his creation. As men and women, formed in the likeness of God, we too enjoy the task of creation. We too can marvel at the creative acts of others and in so doing, provide glory for our ultimate Creator and Lord, Christ Jesus. This creative ability should be encouraged in others especially when it demonstrates giftedness from above and its intention is to bring glory to our Creator. We do ourselves and God a disservice when we deny ourselves this joy of living for Christ.

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