Worship has become a form of religious entertainment. The Sunday morning worship service seems to be the church’s attempt to put on a good show. We want a preacher who is engaging and arouses peoples’ emotions. We want a worship leader who is musically talented and professional. We utilize the latest developments in technology and marketing (that we can afford). We decorate our stages and sanctuaries to dramatize the theme of the sermon. And we structure the service so it flows smoothly and finishes quickly.
This has produced the phenomenon of “church shopping.” Christians look for a church that fits their preferences and entertains them the most. Once a change occurs that they don’t like, they begin to search for another church that meets their requirements. This is a shallow and unspiritual way to decide which church to attend. But church-shoppers aren’t to blame; instead, we ought to blame churches who try to sell their worship as a religious product.
A Harmful Trend
This betrays a harmful trend in modern ministry. We reduce our worship to a religious experience and evaluate our success by external standards. We pride ourselves in attendance and the appearance of health, and forget about producing fruit and advancing the gospel. We also implicitly ask our members to evaluate us by external standards as well. We are wise to remember that “the LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
This trend must be confronted and corrected. We must stop preparing for worship as if its a performance, and we must stop attending church as if its a form of entertainment.
What You Can Do About It
If you are on staff at a church, you can correct this trend by not relying on yourself. Self-reliance takes many forms; you must eliminate them all. Stop relying on your ability to speak publicly or play music. Stop relying on your passion and creativity. Stop relying on your people skills and stage presence. Stop relying on your knowledge of the Bible and insight into human nature. Stop relying on your own strength and energy.
Start relying on the Holy Spirit’s power to change lives. You are effective only to the extent that He uses your efforts to produce fruit and advance the gospel.
If you are not on staff at a church, you can correct this trend by going to church for spiritual reasons. Go to church to pour out your heart to God in authentic worship. Go to church to invest in genuine friendships that produce fellowship. Go to church to be trained to tell others about Jesus. Go to church to be built up in your relationship with God. Go to church to use your spiritual gifts for the sake of others.
Don’t go to church because the preacher’s funny, the music’s lively, and the service ends at a convenient time. And don’t invite others to church for unspiritual reasons either.
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