That so many churches today are absolutely addicted to entertainment, razzamatazz productions, and keeping the masses amused and happy is fairly obvious. I have spoken to this often before. So many folks seem to think that entertainment is the missing ingredient to a successful church, so they spare no expense to be the most entertaining outfit around.
But for most of church history the obvious missing ingredient to a successful, fruitful and godly church was the Holy Spirit. But now the Spirit seems to be just an optional extra, while worldly entertainment is an absolute necessity. There are of course thankfully many exceptions to this, but far too many churches are simply competing with the world in being entertainers.
This woeful mentality goes as follows: ‘In order to reach people in the world, we must become just like the world. We have to be hip and cool and relevant, and above all else, entertaining. That will bring in the crowds (and the offerings).’ So churches compete with one another to be the coolest and most entertaining joint in town.
We had a perfect example of this sadly with a Hillsong bigtime production number in a Christmas service. Using the wonderful song Silent Night, they turned it into a glitzy and trashy piece that any pagan nightclub would be proud of. But no description of mine will do it justice, so see for yourself: http://www.piratechristian.com/museum-of-idolatry/2015/12/hillsongs-sleazy-silent-night
Of course Hillsong and other trendy churches have already given us plenty such worldly entertainment – we already have countless discos for worship (complete with strobe lights, smoke machines and black interiors), and now this: nightclub and cabaret entertainment.
The next obvious step is to bring in the pole dancers I guess. Just think what crowds we could get with a Methodist Moulin Rouge, a Presbyterian Caesars Palace, or an AOG Whiskey A Go Go. After all, we have to be just like the world to win the world, right?
Great saints like A. W. Tozer wrote entire books on the entertainment-mad church scene, and that was decades ago. He would be utterly shocked and repulsed at the trendy, sacrilegious churches of today. Let me offer just one quote of his:
It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to attend a meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.
We are not alone in such concerns of course. Christian commentator Matt Walsh has just penned a piece dealing with similar themes: “If Your Church Makes Christianity ‘Cool’ And Comfortable, You Should Find A New Church”. He speaks not just to the modern idol of entertainment, but of being cool and trendy. It is worth sharing a good-sized hunk of this piece. He begins:
There are no two words in the English language more incongruous than “celebrity” and “pastor,” but as we all know, these are very incongruous times. One of the latest red carpet-trotting “celebrity pastors,” Rich Wilkerson, was just profiled here on TheBlaze.
Pastor Rich is a young guy who dresses in skinny pants and deep v-neck tees, poses for photo ops, takes Instagram selfies with Justin Bieber, and shies away from “controversial” subjects like gay marriage and abortion, because, as he explains, he wants people to like him. Pastor Rich brags of being “great friends” with Kanye West, and even officiated his wedding a few years ago.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with befriending a sinner — we’re all sinners, to be sure — but maybe a pastor ought to exercise some prudence. It might be wise to avoid creating scandal among your flock by publicly hobnobbing with a blasphemous egomaniac who claims to be God and made his fortune rapping about getting high and having sex with hookers. But Pastor Rich is super cool, and super cool people are supposed to hang out with famous rappers.
Remember, a good Christian must always be awesome, fun, and trendy, no matter what. As Jesus proclaimed, “The only rule in life is have fun, don’t be boring, and dress cute wherever you go.”
Sorry I think that was actually Paris Hilton. It can be easy to get those two confused, depending on which church you attend.
The preview for his new reality show (of course) intersperses clips of Pastor Rich cavorting on the beach with his scantily clad wife with footage of him shouting self-help cliches – “Nothing will be impossible!.. We’re gonna do life together!” – to a mosh pit of cheering fans at a rock festival. Er, I mean, a congregation of Christian disciples at “church.” At one point, Rich reveals to the viewing audience his insightful pastoral motto: “I don’t think people are interested in a bunch of religion — like, yo, tell me what I can and can’t do — but I think people are interested in a relationship with a higher power.”
In the article, he explains that the Gospel does not demand ”behavior modification.” Because, yo, we shouldn’t have to, like, modify our behavior or, like, you know, do stuff. Just remember that old Christian saying, yo: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”
Sorry I think that’s actually the official slogan of Satanism. Again, some churches make it easy to conflate the two.
Unfortunately, the heresy Rich represents is not in the least unique to him. After all, Rich is just like any of the countless Christian apostates who profess a particularly comfortable, stylish, hip, fun perversion of the faith.
These days, churches increasingly cater to Christians who hate Christianity but still want to be “spiritual.” These people desire the feeling of fulfillment and purpose found in devout religious practice without any of the actual practice, nor for that matter the doctrines, teachings, constraints, discipline, obedience, observance, challenges, commandments, suffering, or sacrifice. They want the appearance of the dish but none of the ingredients whatsoever. What they end up with, then, is a meal similar to the kind my 2-year-old daughter serves after she’s “made dinner” in her Fisher-Price kitchenette: a colorful plate filled with plastic fruit and imagination.
I think the phrase “personal relationship with Jesus” (or “a higher power,” as Pastor Rich so fashionably put it) has been especially useful to the practitioners of Plastic Fruit Christianity. Now don’t get me wrong, although the saying appears nowhere in the Bible, there is a deep and important truth to it. Yes we should desire an intimate connection with Our Lord, we should know that He loves us each individually, and we should recognize and give thanks that He died for all of our sins. We should develop a “personal relationship” in that we should be affected and changed personally by Christ. We should come, personally, to believe in Him and follow Him.
Our Lord himself is “personal” in the sense that he is not detached from the world. He is not a Lord who sits off at a distance, nor is He some kind of pantheistic, amorphous blob of energy composed of all of the elements of the universe, like a Kabbalist or Buddhist or Joel Osteen might talk about.
So, yes, Jesus is “personal” and we must come to know Him, love Him, and serve Him personally. But if we’re using “personal” in this context, it’s redundant. Of course we have to love and follow Jesus personally. Of course loving Jesus isn’t a cumulative task where each member of the world contributes a percentage. We must, individually and personally, believe in Christ and obey his commandments. Definitely. This is self-evident.
Jesus never promised that faith would be comfortable, much less fashionable or fun. So if you’re sitting around right now and thinking this “being a Christian” thing is pretty relaxing and easy, you’re doing it wrong. Yes — doing. And if your church is putting these ideas in your head, rebuke the pastor and run away as fast as you can. That place is a pagan temple, not a church.
He also reminds us of the hard sayings of Jesus, like taking up our cross and following him, of denying self, of crucifying the flesh, etc. You know, all the stuff no one wants to hear any more, and all the stuff our cool, entertainment-obsessed churches never mention. This is a good way to send millions of people to hell. And that is exactly what is happening.
As Tozer said about entertainment in general: “I believe that entertainment and amusements are the work of the Enemy to keep dying men from knowing they’re dying; and to keep enemies of God from remembering that they’re enemies.”
So today Silent Night is a bawdy cabaret number in these trendy churches. Tomorrow it will just be bawdy songs with no Christian content at all. After all, we need to bring the worldlings into church. But when the world does a better job of entertaining, and when the world is already good at sending people to hell, it is odd that the churches should want to follow suit.
It is not just odd, it is downright demonic.