Are you hooked on entertainment? How often do you find yourself scrolling through your phone? Even at a restaurant, do you engage with the person across from you or do you pick up your phone? What about in a waiting room? Have moments of meditation and prayer been squeezed out? Even our cars have great entertainment packages. Have we become a generation hooked on distraction and entertainment?
Some come to worship with the expectation that it will be entertaining. No one is suggesting that worship should be boring. It’s a matter of focus. The aim of entertainment is much different than the aim of worship. Entertainment is offered to people for their amusement. Worship has a totally different focus. The focus of worship is God.
As worship began to be used as an outreach and evangelism tool by some, the question became “how can we bring in more people?” This is not something new. The 19th century Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon stated, “The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.” It’s a noble desire to want to save the lost, but it has caused many to value entertainment over true worship.
As a teen I wondered why worship was called a “church service.” Service? Service is related to the word “serve.” It was a reminder that worship wasn’t about us, but the God we serve. We ascribe honor to God. Worship in Spirit and truth can be hard work, His word can even pierce our soul, but it transforms us, edifies us, and conforms us to the image of God in a way infinitely more powerful than any entertainment. As the 16th century preacher John Calvin cautioned, “The music must not turn the church into an audience enjoying the music but into a congregation singing the Lord’s praises in his presence.”