The Sophisticates/Dancing with the Big Dogs
Tags: Church Growth, Church Growth Movement, Hollywood, Pixar, American Idol, Power Point, entertainment
One of the primary practical problems
regarding the churchs attempt to emulate the worlds entertainment prowess is
that most churches simply cannot compete. Your typical church simply does not have the
resources or money that is embraced by
And even in the few instances that they
actually pull the whole thing off, all you have is an entertaining show that does not
minister because all the mornings effort was put into making the production happen
while no attention was given to communicating to the people. How do those who attempt to
It is a mistake to look at Pixar or
American Idol as a reference point. These people are utilizing the best that
There was a particular ministry where the leadership was attempting to do everything under the sun. And they were doing it very poorly. During one meeting the youth leader declared that the church should limit what it does to what it can do well. Unfortunately this admonishment was ignored and the church continued to fail.
However, this bit of wisdom is something that should be recognized by every pastor. We need to be realists when we consider what we are going to accomplish. If there is no one available to make a professional-looking video, then dont use videos. Or utilize the myriad of inexpensive professional videos that are readily available on the Christian market. If you dont have a good graphic artist at your disposal, then make simple, clean PowerPoint presentations rather than submitting the congregation to poor graphics. Or put the hymnals back in the pews while printing the words to the praise songs in the bulletin. If you dont have a big PA, then dont try to put a big rock band up there that will just sound bad anyway. If you dont have an expert technical staff, then give your workers what they can handle.
Regarding musical expressions, if the church lacks a good drummer, then dont use drums. If there is only one quality singer to put up there then use one quality singer. There is a place for every musical person to serve in the church, but that does not mean that everyone is suited for up-front ministry in a contemporary setting. Some voices are suited for choral singing. Others are best used as soloists or in small tight-miced group settings. Just because a person has played a guitar for a year, it does not mean that he is ready to lead praise in a Sunday morning setting. Because many pianists are classically trained and do not know how to improvise, not all of them can keep up with a rhythm section. The key is in knowing how to place everyone where they belong. Put accomplished servant musicians who have a heart to praise God on stage for leadership roles and you will see your ministry to people excel.
As it develops, God will fill in the gaps and the praise team will naturally grow with people who are there to worship rather than entertain. However, if entertainment is your goal, then you will fill the stage with everyone you can dig up in order to get the look that you are after. But good looks is all you will get. The resultant music will be sloppily played and offensive, which will not only alienate everyone in your congregation except perhaps the youth, but will turn off visitors as well.
In addition, the emphasis on entertainment will create entertainers rather than ministers, which presents a whole host of problems. Soon you will be dealing with inflated egos and the sin that results from idol worship. You will end up with primadonas who desire mostly to be served. You will work your tail off appeasing them as a result. Any chance of ministry will be totally dependent upon your continued efforts. Great will be your burden.
The irony of the situation is that if you take the same people and lead them towards worship goals that exalt God, you will find yourself among humble and low maintenance servants. They will become people who think more of others than themselves and they will faithfully minister to the needs of others as a result. Many people can minister far more effectively than the one. Trust in God is far easier than trusting in your own devices. Your burden will be light. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matt 11: 28-30)
As the shepherd goes, so go the sheep. Putting entertainment first generally is the most counterproductive measure that can be taken. Placing worship as the first priority results in blessing and blessing lends itself to a growth dynamic that marketing could never think of achieving.
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