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.”
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.
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…
“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
“When the church starts marketing itself or the gospel, something odd is taking place. It subtly turns the free gift of grace into a transaction. It harnesses the unpredictable God and shackles him to a transaction. It suggests that the church is offering people some benefit they can consume. At the same time, it inadvertently suggests that the church somehow receives a benefit in return–more warm bodies at its services, for one. When you market a church, the assumptions of the marketplace–that it’s all about an exchange of value for goods and services–begin to pervade the church… Continue reading
“This year churches have began spending money on giveaways and prizes in hopes of boasting attendance on Easter Sunday. At last prizes… I mean what else were they going to lure people in with? The promise of unconditional love and eternal salvation? They gave that out last year!”
“In consumerist spirituality, the new stuff on offer is mostly new experiences, ‘transformative‘ experiences that you’re supposed to get if you don’t want to miss out on something special in your spiritual life… Which means… that if you’ve never had the experience they’re selling, they’ll do their best to make you wonder what’s wrong with you… You’ll be told that without you’re just an ordinary, plain Christian, lacking the extraordinary power and blessing that God wants you to have in your life… Whereas what we have, if we are nothing but ordinary Christians, is greater than all the experiences in the world. We have Christ himself… Everything else is inessential.” Continue reading
“I think that the church in America today is so obsessed with being practical, relevant, helpful, successful, and perhaps even well-liked that it nearly mirrors the world itself. Aside from the packaging, there is nothing that cannot be found in most churches today that could not be satisfied by any number of secular programs and self-help groups.
Christless Christianity. Sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it? A little shallow, sometimes distracted, even a little human-centered rather than Christ-centered from time to time, but Christless? Let me be a little more precise about what I am assuming to be the regular diet in many churches across America today: ‘do more, try harder…’ Continue reading