I don't go to church to be entertained.
I also don't go to church to be bored.
- I go to worship.
- I go to read and hear from God's word.
- I go to be taught.
- I go to be challenged.
- I go to be discipled.
- I go to fellowship with other believers.
- I go to be inspired into action.
When we reduce the gathering of God's people to an entertainment venue, we don’t enhance it, we diminish it.
Diminish. That's such a benign word for the damage we do to the gospel when use it as a tool to put on a better show.
The only thing worse? Boring people with the gospel.
We’ve been entrusted with the message that God came to live on our planet, lived a sinless life, taught the greatest truths ever heard, died for our sins, rose from the dead, and is coming back for us. You have to work hard to make that story boring. Yet we do.
This Is Not About Church Size, Pace or Liturgy
This mini-rant of mine has nothing to do with church size, liturgy, the pace of service, or any of the other facets of our church services that pastors spend so much time and energy on.
I’ve been in boring churches of all sizes. And I've also experienced the shiny veneer of a faux gospel in churches large and small. The same goes for churches with high and low liturgies, as well as services with a slow and intimate pace, to ones that are nearly frenzied with energy.
Thankfully, I’ve also been in life-transforming services in churches of all sizes, traditions, liturgies and energy levels.
None of that matters.
But doctrine does matter. A lot. We can’t proclaim the truth of a gospel that we’ve wandered away from. Or stripped truths from. Or hidden beneath layers of prejudice, tradition or entertainment.
Yes, the gospel should be attractional. As long as we’re attracting people with the gospel, not with the baggage we’ve added to it. The old adage is true: what we win them with is what we win them to.
Truth Is Better than Entertainment
Entertainment is cheap. And easy. The laptop I'm writing with can access more entertainment than we could have ever imagined. Or than any church can ever compete with. As I wrote in a recent post, “If we compete head-to-head with Hollywood on entertainment quality, Hollywood wins, the church loses.”
Jesus never bored people with the gospel. And a lot of his parables were very entertaining.
But entertainment was never the point. Truth was the point. And great truths are never boring.
Whenever entertainment becomes the point, or boredom becomes the result of our church services, we’ve missed something big. Something vital. Something beautiful, eternal and life-changing.
We’ve missed the truth of the gospel.
We’ve traded our birthright for a mess of stew.
We’ve cast our pearls before swine.
Finding the Truth in the Middle of the Gospel
Why am I writing this? Who's my audience today?
Maybe it's just me.
Sometimes I need to remind myself:
- Never undermine the truth of the gospel for a better Sunday morning show.
- Never preach an easy version of a hard biblical truth.
- Never denounce the sins of others while avoiding dealing with my own sins.
- Never give up on the hard work of finding that middle place between entertaining people with the gospel and boring people with it.
- Never lose the wonder of the gospel – or of my privilege to preach it.
- Never use the gospel to promote my own ulterior motives. Like getting a better offering or building a bigger church.
I need to embrace the entire gospel.
I need to preach a grace so scary that it makes legalists wonder if I have any standards at all.
I need to preach God's justice and righteousness with such fervor that people worry I might be turning into a legalist myself.
I need to reflect the creativity and innovation of the creator as I teach his truth.
And I need to live that truth with as much honesty and integrity as I can – in God’s strength, not my own.
That's not an entertainment approach to the gospel. But it will never be boring.
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