Vol. 4, No. 4
~ Page 11 ~
There are good kinds and bad kinds of entertainment. Any amount of the bad kind is too much. Even good entertainment can be overdone. We live in an age that could well be called "the entertainment age."
A popular late-night American TV showman began working for another TV network. Media people said he got a pay raise from seven million dollars per year to 14 million dollars per year. The salary of the President of the United States is $200,000 per year of taxable income. With all the demands and pressures of his job, I am confident the President earns every penny of it.
Even though the President's salary is paid by taxpayers, compared to a 14 million dollar per year salary, his salary is a classic demonstration of how America's priorities are out of balance. It is likely the above mentioned TV showman will be paid more in two years than all presidents of the United States have been paid in the 200 years since George Washington was President. Likely, the income taxes that the TV showman will pay will be more than enough money to pay the President's salary.
Ann Landers said in one of her columns that the prizefighter Evander Holyfield was paid 60 million dollars in 1990. She also said Joe Montana was paid three and a half million dollars in 1991 and missed several games because of an injured elbow. The list of such highly paid athletes would be much too long to publish here.
The craze and craving for entertainment may have already adversely influenced the church. It may be that this age of entertainment has so surrounded, saturated and subdued so many people that some in the church expect to be entertained during the worship periods. It seems that even the short pause from entertainment involved by some who attend worship sessions seems to cause them to be bored because they are not entertained. They may say, "I did not get anything out of it." It may be that some do not get anything out of worship because they do not put anything it to it! Furthermore, Christians should not attend worship sessions with the attitude that they are there to see what they can get out of it. Instead, they should attend with the attitude that they are there to worship God and do their best to praise and please him!
If the preacher is not "dynamic," some get bored. His preaching the Word of God and what people need to hear is not entertaining to some. If the preacher does not tell some intriguing, gripping, secular story every time he starts a sermon, and then tell several more such stories in his sermon, to some he is boring. If the preacher emphasizes what the Bible says, some may be bored.
I heard about a preacher who was doing his best to tell of the awful ordeal of the crucifixion of the Son of God, and he realized the people were not listening very well and some were about to go to sleep. The preacher suddenly began telling a story he made up about a dog getting killed, and the audience began to lean toward the preacher out of their seats! The preacher said, "I was telling you the story of our blessed Savior dying for our sins and you seemed very indifferent. I began to entertain you with an untrue story about a dying dog and I got your undivided attention!"
I heard an audio taped speech (I cannot call it a sermon) that was made by a popular preacher at a big religious gathering in Nashville, Tennessee. Along with other ridiculous things he said, he emphasized that worship should be "a party." He emphasized this in a context in which he made it clear that he thought worship services should be entertaining. He said people are not interested in doctrine, but he said nothing about any of the abundance of passages in the New Testament which emphasize the importance of right doctrine. He was using wrong doctrine to emphasize that right doctrine was not important! He made it clear that we need to have an atmosphere of entertainment in our worship services if we expect to attract people. Certainly, we should be friendly in worship services, but being boisterous and acting "slap happy" or giddy are not proofs of true devotion and spirituality in worship!
Over the years, I have observed that many, including preachers, have emphasized what we can get out of worship. Of course, true worshippers can get much out of worship, but that should never be the primary concern. The primary concern should be what we put into worship as we turn our hearts to God our Father and Creator in solemn and devoted praise and adoration, and as we recognize our helplessness and emptiness without him.
Jesus said we must worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24). In the context of New Testament teaching we know this means we must worship God in the right attitude and in the way God said worship him! If one is bored when worshipping God as God says to worship him, he is not humble or poor in spirit.