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light under a long walking bridge

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ -Galatians 1:10

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about entertainment. I work at our local Gamestop and last week, as I’m sure many you know, was the release of one of the most anticipated games of the year. Halo: Reach. Now I personally haven’t played any of the Halo series, but I do love the soundtracks. I own the Halo 2 and Halo: Reach soundtracks. {Yeah, I’m a nerd for film soundtracks and had to get Halo Reach cause its so good.} Anyway, Halo: Reach tallied at $200 million on launch day. $200 million. Now, why is it that people purchase video games, movies, music, etc? For Entertainment.

So, I looked up entertainment and found that it is often defined as something affording pleasure, diversion, or amusement. Whether that’s attending a sporting event, concert, or movie, we go to be entertained. We are spectators of a performance. Unfortunately in some churches, visitors could easily confuse a worship service with a concert or theatrical show. Now when I say this, I don’t mean ”let’s completely eliminate different types of performance art from worship services”. We just have to be careful of the use of them. We need to ask ourselves questions. The more priority we put on entertaining instead of involving our congregations and inviting them into worship, the more we develop an entertainment worship. We end up making spectators instead of true worshipers.

I found this quote and was sadly brought to the realization of how entertainment in our churches is becoming more visible.

“We are not producing worshipers in this country. Rather, we are producing a generation of spectators, religious onlookers lacking, in many cases, a true encounter with God, deprived of both the tangible sense of God’s presence and the supernatural relationship their inmost spirits crave.” —Sally Morgenthaler

It’s sad, but true. Entertainment is for pleasing the human eyes/ears…but worship is for pleasing God. Worship is for giving God the honor and praise He deserves. When worship services happen just to please the ears of the congregation rather than the heart of God, then how dare we call it a worship service. In the book of Amos, God deals with a similar problem with Israel.

Oh, brother or sister, God calls us to worship, but in many instances we are in entertainment, just running a poor second to the theaters. That is where we are, even in the evangelical churches, and I don’t mind telling you that most of the people we say we are trying to reach will never come to a church to see a lot of amateur actors putting on a home talent show.”
-A.W Tozer

I admit it. Sometimes my motives for wanting to incorporate technology in our services have been purely for cool factor. For relevance. For entertainment. Great post from Tim Schraeder about seeking relevance in the church today and where it’s taking us

On the other side of the spectrum, sometimes I’ve felt like there may be about 10-15 people worshiping God while everyone else watches the performance of the praise team putting on an amateur talent show. I think the fact that we have stages, lights, and cameras all over the place gives the feeling of SNL or Broadway productions. Maybe we need to get rid of stages, lights, and cameras? Maybe not. Maybe its just the atmosphere we orchestrate? Maybe we have a distorted view of true worship and need to understand it for what it is?

Worship is beyond music. It is our response to God, in all that we do [1 Corinth. 10:31], because of who He is. I believe once we understand true worship, we can learn how to lead in worship.
I can’t remember where I found this online, I wanna say maybe Camron Ware or Stephen Proctor, but I just had it saved in a text file on my desktop and wanted to share it with you:

We need to take a step back and reevaluate the purpose behind our worship services. We need to ask ourselves why we do what we do. In beginning this process, I see four important steps:

Understand Worship—Unfortunately, many of us have an incomplete or skewed view of true worship. Worship extends far beyond music; it is our continuous response to God, in all that we do, because of who He is. A proper understanding of worship will shape how we lead our congregations.

Check Our Hearts—While our intentions in using entertainment in our services can be pure, we must constantly check our motives—we are all capable of placing our confidence in manmade things. As we incorporate music into our services, we should ask ourselves these questions:
• What purpose does this song serve in our time of worship?
• What does the song have to say about God and us?
• How is this song drawing people to the Lord?

Know Our Congregations—Every church is unique, so no one formula works for all churches. Just because a church in Seattle worships in a particular manner doesn’t mean it’s the right formula for our church. We must know what engages their minds, speaks to their souls, and enables them to participate in worship.

Pray—While this last point may sound cliché, it is of great importance. Leading our congregations in worship is not a minor task. Left to our own devices, our worship times can become about us. We must be in constant prayer, asking for the Lord’s guidance as we seek to serve and worship Him.

I believe there is so much truth in this. These four things are crucial and we need to constantly be reminded of them. I think I’m gonna write them down on index cards and place them in the different places I go to around my church.

I recently had to write a two-page paper for a class. The topic was my philosophy on technology in the church. I want to share with you a bit of what I wrote:

Technology isn’t something new. We have always been advancing and discovering new forms of technology. I believe that we can explore past uses of technology and media in the church to better help us understand and communicate the message of Christ, His death, and resurrection. Using history to guide us is a great tool. It can tell us what people in the past have found to be useful and have been able to better develop into what we use today. I believe technology in the church can be used to develop ministries and express God’s truth through media to better prepare us for reaching others. Technology can help us see God’s story woven within our culture and make it easier for us to share that story with those around us. Different ministries reach different people. Ultimately, technology in the church is not about the stuff you have. It’s not enough to just be the “cool” technologically state-of-the-art church. It’s about the people. It’s about glorifying God with our creativity. It’s about looking through rather than reflecting back. The reason we put and use all this stuff is to reach people. To draw people towards God. To open a window to a lost and broken world that needs the church to be the body of Christ, showing His grace and mercy. I read in an article recently that said the cause of the local church is the cause of Christ. Through technology, the church can create ways to lift up that cause. When there is new Kingdom-impacting technology on the horizon, I believe with lots of prayer and discussion, the church should go for it. Not wait around for others to follow in a trend, but go for it for the cause of Christ.

Let’s pray that the church would increasingly give rise to passionate worshipers of Christ, rather than mere spectators of transient entertainment.

Let’s not expand this trend of being spectators, but rather be worshipers the Father seeks.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. -John 4:23

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