>In a recent class (Foundations of Church Growth), we had a discussion on the value of “entertainment” in the Church. We began the discussion by noting that one of the primary ways that cultural messages get across is through “play.” Some members of the class found that the idea of making the Church a form of entertainment was catering to the sway of society. I can understand and sympathize with these sentiments, but I also want to be careful to point out that they should not go too far. Yes, if enjoyment and entertainment is the sole purpose of the service, then something very important has been lost. However, I believe it is wrong to assume that simply because people are enjoying the service, it is somehow less sanctified and that we are catering to society. Something that I have always maintained is that there is a time to have fun and there is a time to be serious. I would say that it is okay to have fun. If we cannot be filled with joy when we worship the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, we have some serious issues.

I want to stretch a little bit here and put up an analogy that I think will make sense. Given the time of year (just a week after the Super Bowl), it think it is fairly safe to say that football is still fresh in our minds, so I would like to feed off of that for just a moment and compare a football game to our Sunday worship.

I’m sure most people have seen a football game (that’s American football, in case there is any confusion). It can be fairly entertaining, depending on who is playing and whether or not your team is winning. A football game can appeal to the most basic of fans because in reality the game is very simple – you try to move the ball down the field and score. In this sense, anyone can understand the game. However, if the fan really wants to know more about the game, the opportunity is available. Let me ask this – how often do you watch the person with the ball compared to the way the offensive line works together, or how the running back runs out of the backfield on a passing play, or the route a receiver takes on a running play? The schemes are all over the place, offensively and defensively. It is such a complex game on another level; however, it is still entertainment.

Here’s where the analogy gets applied to the Church. Worship can be a very exciting, entertaining time, but it can also be very deep and complex. It does not have to be one or the other. So much of it is what we bring in affects how we view worship. One person can “get nothing” from a service, while another can be moved in a very powerful, profound way. It is okay to be entertained. It is okay to be infected with vitality when worshipping God. There are times when the line between enjoying worship and desiring to entertain the masses has been crossed, but I don’t think we should make assumptions based solely on the style of the worship.

Just some musings from a traveling pilgrim.