Archive for June, 2011

Entertainment versus Worship

Sunday, June 26th, 2011
By Spencer D Gear

The controversy over entertainment songs in Christian ‘worship’ services is represented by this comment by MysterE:

“I believe that worship team musicians are aware of the show off tendancies (sic). I know I am because that is where I converted from. The difference between secular entertainment and worship is mostly about crowd focus.

“If a musician starts showing off in church the church stops singing and puts their focus on that musician or singer, and worship becomes entertainment.

“My team is more conserned (sic) with participation than recognition. My church knows that the musicians are capable (sic). There is no desire to show off”.[1]

My response was as follows:[2]

The difference between secular entertainment and worship should NOT BE about crowd focus. It should be about God-focus.

I find much of the current entertainment, contemporary Christian music to be trite in the lyrics. Take this as an example:

Heart Of Worship

when the music fades
all is stripped away
and i simply come
longing just to bring
something that’s of worth
that will bless your heart

i’ll bring you more than a song
for a song in itself
is not what you have required
you search much deeper within
through the way things appear
you’re looking into my heart

chorus

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
and it’s all about you
It’s all about you, Jesus
I’m sorry Lord for the things i’ve made it
when it’s all about you
it’s all about you, Jesus

King of endless worth
no one could express
how much you deserve
though i’m weak and poor
all i have is yours
every single breath

chorus

Where do we find the glories of the Christ focus of hymns like this:

Crown Him with many crowns

Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.

Crown Him the virgin’s Son, the God incarnate born,
Whose arm those crimson trophies won which now His brow adorn;
Fruit of the mystic rose, as of that rose the stem;
The root whence mercy ever flows, the Babe of Bethlehem.

Crown Him the Son of God, before the worlds began,
And ye who tread where He hath trod, crown Him the Son of Man;
Who every grief hath known that wrings the human breast,
And takes and bears them for His own, that all in Him may rest.

Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of peace, whose power a scepter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease, and all be prayer and praise.
His reign shall know no end, and round His piercèd feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend their fragrance ever sweet.

Crown Him the Lord of love, behold His hands and side,
Those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.

Crown Him the Lord of Heaven, enthroned in worlds above,
Crown Him the King to Whom is given the wondrous name of Love.
Crown Him with many crowns, as thrones before Him fall;
Crown Him, ye kings, with many crowns, for He is King of all.

Crown Him the Lord of lords, who over all doth reign,
Who once on earth, the incarnate Word, for ransomed sinners slain,
Now lives in realms of light, where saints with angels sing
Their songs before Him day and night, their God, Redeemer, King.

Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail! For Thou has died for me;
Thy praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity.

The stark contrast between the content of the lyrics of these two songs should be obvious to the discerning Christian. Existentialism versus God-exalting is the contrast.

No wonder Christianity is being dumbed-down in many of the churches that have swallowed the hook that contemporary music[3] is the way to go in the modern church. I inquired of a Christian leader in my state for recommendations of a church that was not promoting rock ‘n roll Christianity. One of his responses was a church that  has “quite an older congregation and would probably be quite conservative”. The inference is that the hymn-singing with content is part of the “older” generation that continues to be “conservative” in music style.

What about the content of the lyrics sung and the singability of the tunes. I find many of the contemporary songs to be very difficult for a congregation to sing, while most of the old hymns are designed for congregational singing.

The Berean Call provides this observation by Gary Gilley,

“It would appear, when it comes to entertainment, Christianity has caught up with the culture at large.  One social observer, Neal Gabler, who has no ax to grind in this regard, making no pretense to be a Christian, has noticed, “Evangelical Protestantism, which had begun as a kind of spiritual entertainment in the nineteenth century, only refined its techniques in the twentieth, especially after the advent of television.  Televangelists like Oral Roberts and Jimmy Swaggart recast the old revival meeting as a television variety show, and Pat Robertson’s 700 Club was modeled after The Tonight Show, only the guests on this talk show weren’t pitching a new movie or album; they were pitching salvation.”  Christianity on television, by necessity, has always been presented in the form of entertainment.  Theology, rituals, sacred worship, prayer, and most other true components of the Christian faith, simply do not “play” well on television” [Gary Gilley, This Little Church Went to Market, Xulon Publishers, 2002 pp. 35-36].

This website provides what it considers are ….

Basics of Entertainment Christianity:

The entertainment church is stunting the growth of millions.

There is a growing trend to substitute entertainment for ministry and emotion for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is powerful. Let Him rule and reign in the service. Entertainment can never satisfy the desire that you have to be fulfilled in Jesus. There is no exciting speaker or singer who can satisfy that need and longing. The enemy of your soul would love to deceive you into seeking after entertainment rather than seeking after Jesus.

Jesus moves in simple ways. His orders are clear in His Word. 1 Corinthians 14 is the description of a Scriptural church service, but it isn’t compatible with the modern entertainment church. It’s pretty risky to let the Holy Ghost plan and execute the service without any professional entertainers, if you want to build a big, popular church organization.

The reality is that God doesn’t care a thing about building any big organization of any kind. He works through a remnant who will be obedient to His voice. He seeks those who desire Him. He doesn’t need too many of those to usher in the Kingdom age.

Nancy Pearcey has exposed some of the pitfalls of entertainment Christianity in, “When churches try to be cool“.

Notes:


[1] MysterE #24, Christian Forums, Worship Ministry, “Entertainment vs worship”, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7557482-3/ (Accessed 26 June 2011).

[2] OzSpen #25, ibid.

[3] For some, it is rock ‘n roll Christianity. For others it is hard rock noise with lots of gyrations by lead singers and congregational involvement.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 October 2015.

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