This was originally published in Issue 3 of The Huntingtonian on November 9, 2006.
What is the purpose of church, and how important is it to bring people in and keep them around?
Think carefully before you answer that one, because I’m not done. How far should a church be willing to go to bring someone in the door? Better yet, how far should a church go to keep them there?
Recently, at my church, we’ve thrown around the idea of putting on a fairly large production for Christmas this year. In the past we’ve done production-esque things (think lights and small effects, dramas, videos) but never anything as large as what could be in the works this year. For me, this brings up an interesting question: how entertaining should church be?
On the one hand, there is a common mentality: whatever it takes. Whatever it takes to bring people to Jesus, that’s what we’ll do. Whatever it takes to entice people into our doors, that’s what we’ll do.
The problem with that is it quickly becomes a situation where the “ends justify the means”. Is that ideal? What I mean is, even if we do get them in the door, are we held responsible for the means we use to do it? Maybe entertainment doesn’t belong in church. Maybe service shouldn’t be a show. Maybe instead of going for laughs and trying to compete with the short attention spans our spoiled culture has developed we should respect the reverence of liturgy and rely on it alone to speak to visitors.
Or maybe I’m going off the deep end. Maybe it’s a matter of new times and new strategies. Maybe it’s a time when we should, not throw out the rule book, but tear out a few pages.
Honestly, I don’t know the answer. I don’t know that there is an answer. What do you think? How much entertainment does it take to ruin a Sunday morning?