The entertainment value of worship.

“Worship is a form of entertainment, if people are not entertained, they don’t feel like they’re participating.”

I came across this rather interesting quote the other day concerning the state of worship in today’s church. I tried to track down this quote and found it is an old quote. It originally appeared in the article ‘Churches Crank Up Volume With High-tech Sound Systems‘ in the 01 February 2003 edition of the Washington Post. Here’s a link to the article which was also published in the Orlando Sentinel.

I love this quote for it oozes with so many questions and ideas that begs to be asked and explored.

Is there room for entertainment in worship? If so, how much and in what way?

Does this say anything about how we understand what is  worship?

Does this say anything about our relationship with God?

I have observed some friends in worship settings where there is just only someone leading worship with an acoustic guitar. Nothing fancy. They are not so interested and look bored as they sit back and not participate. However when I see these same friends in a worship environment where there are flashing lights, videos projected and a full band, these same folks are up on their feet and happily engaged in worship.

A lot has been said about how multi-sensory can  be used as an aid to help us in our worship of God. These aids can help us to grab our interest and reflect on God and engage in meaningful worship. Furthermore, we all have a very real need to be able to relate to God in a way that is relevant to us and the culture we find ourselves in. However, does all of this encourage us to worship on our terms and not on God’s terms?

I find this fascinating as ways we relate to God are often shaped by the culture we find ourselves in. However I ask myself,  is it fair to let culture limit and define the way we relate to God.


5 Responses to The entertainment value of worship.

  1. Jeff May 20, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    This is sad observation on the current state of modern Church in it’s attempt to be current and relevant. I think people do want to be entertained and it comes right down to people’s emotional response to the music to get the desired result from the crowd.

    • robschellert May 21, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

      The art of good entertainment often involves stimulating feelings to give people a ‘high’ that many people (ex Christians in worship) so desperately crave. As a result Christians often become addicted to this form of church. Hype becomes a stimulant (i.e. substitute) for the real thing (the presence of God).

  2. Austin H. Williams May 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    Worship must *engage,* I wholeheartedly agree with that, but must it be reduced to entertainment? Something about that quote reeks of the kind of materialistic, market-driven goals of most consumer Christianity, and especially the consumer Christianity that the “Christian” music industry loves to promote.

    Anything that engages people will entertain them on some level. The question that needs to be asked is whether entertainment should be a conscious effort, or simply something we generate along the way to glorifying and honouring God.

    • robschellert May 21, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

      Good stuff Austin! I completely agree with what you wrote. I really like your question that must be asked about whether entertainment should be a conscious effort or simply something we generate along the way to glorify God.

      It seems that worship experiences have been reduced to spectatorship as there’s often no visable outlet for most people to participate. It reminds me of how last year our church organised a worship event with some friends from Portland. We invited lots of people to come and one of the people I invited was a church leader and he kept asking me ‘How’s the worship concert coming along?’ To which I was like, since when is worship a concert? This event we were hosting was a worship collaboration where everyone was expected if they felt comfortable to particpate. I think it would be better to redefine our worship services and events as worship collaborations. As a result the responsibility falls on everyone to make the best of the worship experience.

      • Austin H. Williams May 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

        “since when is worship a concert?”

        Since Nashville started making money hand-over-fist selling tickets for it.

        But you’re spot-on, Rob. I hope more people can understand the difficulties with this *ahem* approach…

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