Berean cogitations

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Video series: "Does the Truth Matter Anymore?"

I'm midway through watching this great video series. It's titled "Does the Truth Matter Anymore?" (available here, and listed midway through the page). Wow.

In this video, John MacArthur talks about the questionable tactics that many churches use to drum up attendance -- dance troupes, slapstick skits, and the like. In his usual even-handed manner, he stresses that entertainment and innovation are by no means wrong; at the same time though, he emphasizes that we should never allow entertainment and novelty to be the focus of our ministries. If people attend church primarily because they are being entertained, then something is wrong.

As I watch this video, I find myself shocked at some of the tactics that these churches employ. A "Christian" mock strip tease dance, for example? Such tactics may increase attendance, but how can one think that they glorify the Lord? Or what about the use of skits at every service, to illustrate the point that the pastor is making? While there's nothing wrong with theatrical presentations per se, is it really helpful to include these at each and every service? I, for one, would feel that the teaching is being dumbed down, and that the congregation is being challenged to reach for a bar that is set rather low.

Like MacArthur, I don't object to the occasional skit or dramatic presentation. Nor do I object to the use of innovative musical numbers per se. However, if we are relying on these tactics to increase our church attendance, then I think that something is clearly wrong. We may have the appearance of church growth, as evidenced by numerical attendance; however, I would question whether the saints are being properly equipped to do God's work.

Now, I know that voicing such concerns will tend to anger a great many within the church. May take great offense at the notion that there's anything wrong with, say, using elaborate light shows and bombastic guitar solos during worship to entice the crowds. For that reason, I'd like to echo something else that John MacArthur said,

"These are issues about which many people have deep convictions, and I recognize that. And I also recognize that when such matters are brought up, particularly when they're spoken plainly and forthrightly, people sometimes become angry. But I want you to know this: Our program is not produced in anger, and so I would ask viewers to receive what I am saying with the same spirit in which it is being offered. My prayer is that this mini-series will challenge your thinking in a way that will drive you to the Scriptures to see whether these things are so, like the Bereans in the Book of Acts did themselves. And it's also my prayer that the Lord will deliver his church from the same kind of downhill slide into worldliness and unbelief that devoured the church and exhausted her stamina almost exactly a hundred years ago. I think we can all agree that would be a good thing. So my goal is to ultimately unite, not divide, even if that means -- at least in the short term -- some ruffled feathers."