Entertainment & Church

Came across this powerful quote from Lutheran scholar Gene Edward Veith in a book I was reading today.  Thought I’d pass it along to you:

Entertainment is not the purpose for going to church.  Indulging ourselves in aesthetic pleasure is not the same as worshiping.  Churches dare not choreograph their worship services to add entertainment value, even to attract nonbelievers

To do so in worship… risk undercutting the Christian message.  Ours is a culture wholly centered upon the self.  The church must counter this egotism, not give in to it.  The Bible calls us to repentance, faith, service, and self-denial–qualities utterly opposed to the entertainment mentality.

In Christian worship, the congregation is not the audience; God is the audience.

Gene Edward Veith quoted in Philip Ryken’s “City on a Hill: Reclaiming the Biblical Pattern for the Church in the 21st Century.”

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Christians Smith’s Heartbreaking Conclusion

Following an unprecedented study on the religious lives of American teens, Professor Christian Smith came to this conclusion:

We have come with some confidence to believe that a significant part of Christianity in the United States is actually only tenuously Christian in any sense that it is seriously connected to the actual historical Christian tradition,

but has rather substantially morphed into Christianity’s misbegotten step-cousin, Christian Moralistic Therapeutic Deism…  The language and therefore experience, of Trinity, holiness, sin, grace, justification, sanctification, church, Eucharist, and heaven and hell appear, among most Christian teenagers in the United States at the very least, to be supplanted by the language of happiness, niceness, and an earned heavenly reward.

It is not so much that Christianity is being secularized.  Rather more subtly, Christianity is either degenerating into a pathetic version of itself or, more significantly, Christianity is actively being colonized and displaced by a quite different religious faith.

Christian Smith “Soul Searching: the religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers.”

“Take Up Your Cross”

Last week I preached on Jesus’ famous interaction with Peter and disciples concerning the necessity of the cross.  Here’s the text:

Matthew 16:21-26   “21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.  22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”  23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”  24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?”

Anywho, in my research for the sermon I came across this doozy of a pic and thought I’d share it with you.

cross.obedience

Upon seeing this pic I couldn’t help but think of Richard Rohr’s words in “Everything Belongs”:

“How do you make attractive that which is not?  How do you sell nonsuccess?  How do you talk descent when everything is about ascent?  How do you talk about dying to a church trying to appear perfect?”

The simple answer is you don’t.  But how that works out in everyday church life when lights need to stay on and ministry needs to be done…  well…  I have no idea…

Christianity Detached from the Self-Importance of the Self-Important

“I know there was another world before this one, in which Christianity was the unconsidered default state of civilization, but it was dying when I was a child in the 1960s and 1970s, and it’s gone now, and I don’t think I would like it back.  This way, Christianity is no one’s vehicle for ambition.  This way, Christianity has been detached from the self-importance of the self-important…  This way, the extent to which God is greater than us and any of our stuff…  has become helpfully distinct from the inequities of human societies…  This way, the strangeness of Christianity can be visible again…  we can pick out again more clearly the counter-cultural call it makes, admit your lack of cool, and your incompleteness, and your inability ever to be one of the self-possessed creatures in catalogs…  and to find hope instead; a hope that counts upon, is kindly raised upon, the mess you actually are.”

Francis Spufford “Unapologetic: Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense.”

Preaching Like Ron Burgundy

“In San Diego, one anchorman was more man than the rest.  His name was Ron Burgundy.  He was like a god walking amongst mere mortals.  He had a voice that could make a wolverine purr, and suits so fine they made Sinatra look like a hobo.”

For all his great strengths, Ron Burgundy had one weakness: he’d read anything that was put on the teleprompter (See clip below language warning).

This said, what was a weakness for the great Ron Burgundy, would be a great strength for a preacher. Continue reading

Radical Burnout

“Calling us to do great things for God is part of the hype that constantly burns out millions of professing Christians.  Telling us about the great things God has accomplished–and, more than that, actually delivering his achievement to sinners–is the real mission of the church…  Radical discipleship means bringing to the world–including Christians–the wonderful, surprising, and offensive news of the gospel.  Nothing we have done, are doing, or can do is radical.  It is the same old story of human striving.”

Michael Horton “Christless Christianity

Photo taken from Christianity Today’s Article “Here Come the Radicals

Steve Brown on Guilt

“Guilty people make people feel guilty, and you can tell how guilty a person really is by perceiving how guilty you feel in his or her presence…  I fear too often the church has become an organization of guilty people with a guilty preacher standing in the pulpit, telling guilty people that they should feel guiltier.”

Steve Brown “A Scandalous Freedom