Thursday, February 9, 2012

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

Why do you think many churches nowadays emphasize entertainment over following Christ?


Angela/Aleks said...

These churches are so
concerned about following
the great commission that
they want to appeal to
the greatest amount of
people in our culture.
To do that they use music,
technology, the arts as
a way to attract and
entertain so that they
can hopefully draw more
to Christ.

I saw this most clearly
in a song-writing class
I took at a large local
church. We were asked to
write songs of worship that
could be used for congregational
worship. It was very
inspiring, but each week
my songs were critiqued
not as much on
their artistry,authenticity or
theology, but mostly
on whether
they fit this really basic
pop song mold that this
particular church uses for
their music.

Although the music at this
church is powerful and
the narrowness of style
can diminish
the creativity
of God...anyone can see
right through it if they are

Another church I visited was
into this Impact World Tour
thing. don't know much about
it but it seems to be another
highly entertaining way of
luring people in. Someone
intelligent enough who didn't
believe might feel very
manipulated by such a need
to entertain. I think of my
non-believing friends and
none of them would be very
attracted to this!

But maybe some are...and
I think God can use such
things. It seems Paul
while in prison, dealt
with rivalry and false
methods for preaching of
name of Christ, but nonetheless
rejoiced that Jesus' name
was proclaimed.

In Africa I wanted to
learn from the believers
some of their traditional
worship songs in their
languages. They were surprised
and they knew a lot of
mainstream American worship
songs. It made me sad that
we aren't embracing more
of their music, and
music of other cultures
in our worship
music that is actually

But it seems, creators of music and art and those who are sold out and those who are not creators of music and art have very different takes on what is authentic - so what then? what can we say to the name of Christ being preached?

Greg said...

Thanks. Excellent observations. It often seems like pandering to the culture is shooting ourselves in the foot. God may use it, but the likely result is a degeneration of the faith. When the desire to feel and experience God outstrips in its exclusivity the call to worship God, impoverishment is not far behind.

True, Christ is proclaimed in some of these churches and that's a plus. The broader problem however, seems to be how to understand and live in a consumer and entertainment driven culture, with appropriate affirmation and critique. Being enslaved to the ways of a culture like this will not serve to the cause of the gospel. Christ will be preached, but nobody will show up because Christ will become just another option among many.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a definite focus on entertaining ourselves, rather than serving the homeless, orphans and widows.

Angela said...

Good point, Anon.
I think this need
to entertain and
draw people in
really can crowd
out the cries
and laments of the
orphans, widows, and
May their songs
and voices be
heard, too.

Greg said...

Thanks. Well put. Your rather ... is essential. But so much focus on entertaining ourselves. What's up with that?

Sisyphos said...

It is about church growth, not about an open interaction with the world. The focus is not just being (as a self) Christian (or a follower of Christ) but the other becoming Christian. The other becoming Christian means being another member (or number) in the congregation.
"Come here and sign" yells the advertisement and attracts with whatever may attract you. A total surrender to the situatedness of the other for the sake of the signature. Advertisements show naked women, soft music, analyse people psychologically and make strategies so that people just sign and they can make money.
Churches often do the same. The sexual aspect is left out, though.
Better to have one other in the church pocket than to deal with the pains and concerns of so many people who may never join your church or may never use the same label as you.

Sisyphos said...

And woe to those who know that and make money of that. Woe to those who use sacred figures like Jesus and Gandhi to manipulate those people who are not intelligent enough and are too frightened, whose psyche is unstable. Woe to those who use those sacred names to benefit from it. There are, I am sure, intelligent people behind the scene, or on the scene, who know how to guide those sheep and tell them lies. Woe to them.

reneamac said...

For the same reasons churches have always chosen to "tickle ears." The gate is narrow; the road is hard. I'm not sure there's anything special about nowadays... nothing new under the sun.

Greg said...

Thanks. Yes, I agree. But is what's happening a cultural issue that has flooded into many churches that are seeking to somehow be relevant? The culture is saying something like, "entertain me" and many churches are saying "ok". I don't think this is a good thing, but am wondering if this is pretty much what's going on.

Greg said...

Thanks. This is a good perspective. Things have always been amiss, but I would argue that nowadays it is really different. Here's a couple of ways how. The heights of consumerism, hours on internet, and availability of gadgets have never been so powerful and prolific. God and reality are closer to being dead and buried, but in a very entertaining way.

We no longer find ourselves in a story, we are the story. It's all about us in many more ways nowadays than ever before. And one of the major problems is that many churches are part of what ails, when what we desperately need is an antidote to the cultural forms of success and self-help that turn love into a commodity and faith into a disposable product that quickly finds its way into the spiritual dump when it fails to satisfy.

carter said...

Ah, me. Late to the party, as usual. Anyway. Sounds like fishing: cast out the lure with the pretty plastic and feathers and shiny things, and that godless heathen out there will bite, never seeing the sharp barbed hook. Reel 'em in and shove 'em into your creel! Jesus is kewl (cool-sorry) and BUFF!! The theological waters will not get the soles of your shoes damp. That may turn the fish away.

I agree with Anon and Angela. And Sisyphos (keep rollin' that stone). We are blessed to be a blessing to the nations, but we don't care to be a blessing. Just to wallow in grace without sharing the yoke of Christ to see that the kingdom of God is among us, which includes the homeless, the widows, the orphans, and the foreigners in our midst (for we were once, too, foreigners).

Greg said...

Thanks. These thoughts really nail it. We're entertaining ourselves to death, when there's a world of need around us.

reneamac said...

Thanks, Greg. I largely agree with your diagnosis, but my point is that while the means and methods are and will always be different from age to age, the root is the same. I think we see this in some of the NT letters to the churches, perhaps particularly in Revelation which speaks as prophets do of both then and now.