Show Business and Church Making Out Behind the Theater, Or Trying To Hold Our Fragile Attention

Warning: this post contains 4 embedded videos, so it may affect loading time.

Immediately after I graduated college I packed up my rusty old VW Van and did a 5 month road trip across the country. Sundays I occasionally visited churches if I wasn’t deep in a National Park or visiting friends.

It’s gonna sound a little odd, but I usually chose the church I’d attend by which one in that town had the coolest website. The logic was that I’d be going to a church that’s on trying to stay on top of things, and not end up medieval church with dust on the organ.

Yes, I’ll save you asking, that does make me very vain.

In these churches I noticed a trend – that during the morning announcements they’d often play a funny video they made to – well, let’s be honest they’re usually just to be funny and ridiculous. With a side of cheese.

Well – it worked. I walked away thinking that church was hip and cool had good potential to succeed.

Well things have changed. I have to admit after seeing the video above I got judgmental – wondering why a church would spend so much money and time on a 4 minute video they’d show once. (I mean they likely ruined instruments just to have an underwater band scene! And people got paid to rehearse, film and edit this!!!! Maybe my judging hasn’t stopped).

I know it entertains the crowd and makes that church seem cool, but I struggled to label what the people were doing as “ministry.” (Though at the time of my road trip I left the church gitty, but not because it was fulfilling, but because I left entertained).

Who wouldn’t want to work for a church where you get paid to go to coffee shops and goof around with your friends on video? AND gain the righteousness that you are advancing the kingdom!

The temptation for me is to rip these videos apart, but no one likes an angry guy – especially Christian angry guys. When self-righteousness gets involved it just gets obnoxious and, usually, hypocritical.

I think, similarly to what I wrote about mega church pastor salaries, that these videos are made because the churches have learned in order to keep butts in the pews they need to entertain. I mean back in the 1800’s political debates were an hour and a half per topic; now we demand 10 second TV clips.

When you get hundreds to thousands of people together to sit and be quiet, you feel the pressure to entertain. To put on a show. And the last thing most churches want are more declining numbers. So we make silly videos.

Maybe there is a fundamental flaw not with society and our need to be entertained, but with calling church a gathering of people to sit in an auditorium in front of a stage. Inevitably to hold attention you’re going to resort to pranks and quirky jokes. But the church is not a showcase for  extroverted performers who are needy and long to be validated.

I totally get why churches make these ridiculous videos. And they’re amusing, even if you don’t attend that particular church. But the church is not in the entertainment business.

There’s nothing wrong with having fun. I’m a total prankster, and I’m rarely serious. I think we need to figure out a different way to do/be the church and not spend all our time trying to amuse one another.

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4 Responses to Show Business and Church Making Out Behind the Theater, Or Trying To Hold Our Fragile Attention

  1. David says:

    First, let me say I cannot view the videos from here. However; I have seen enough of them to get your point.

    I wrote a blog entitled What Does it Take to Be Relevant? Here is my list:

    – The Full Gospel: Including sin, repentance, along with signs and wonders.
    – Engaging Worship: the kind where you just know God is there. Any style.
    – Rhema: a now word, not some rehash of the latest teaching fad.
    – Discipleship: where folks feel significant, and challenged to love others with their gifts both in an out of the church.
    – Deep Fellowship: deep enough to confess your sins one to another.
    – Outreach: touching the community in meaningful ways.
    – The Presence of God…

    If you have all that, it won’t matter how big or small a church is. What we need to avoid is raising up more spectators.

  2. (sorry for the delay in response, I was in an internet blackout for a few days)

    certainly not your typical list of what most churches would include to be relevant. There’d be a lot more modern instrument and tools thrown around in there. You’re so ancient David 😉

    What is Rhema? And should I feel guilt that I don’t know what it is?

    David you always have a killer line in each comment: “What we need to avoid is raising up more spectators.” That is certainly what most church services create, and its a huge problem what message that sends (and the role that puts people in – consumers). I could almost write another blog post…

  3. Pingback: Where Are All Our Precious Tithers Going?, Or Less Is More | Charlie's Church of Christ

  4. Pingback: My Sort-Of Retraction, Or A Seven Day A Week Church Explosion! | Charlie's Church of Christ

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