“A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats.” -Charles H. Spurgeon
If you had just one opportunity to share the Gospel with an unsaved, or unchurched,* friend or family member, would you take them to a program like any of these?
Christmas and Easter are, oftentimes, the two times a year when unsaved, or unchurched, people are most open to hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After watching a special “church” Christmas program like the ones in the video, even with a reference to Jesus made at the end of the show, do you think your friend or family member would believe the church is any different from the world? Do children writhing on the floor with music instruments bring glory to God? How about a scantily clad woman singing Silent Night, cabaret-style? Why not go full-on burlesque (which means “mockery”), Gypsy Rose Lee style?! Striptease for Jesus! You gotta have a gimmick to get people through the doors, right? ♪ “Let me entertain you. Let me make you smile…” ♪
If you’ve never seen the show “Gypsy” then you may not understand the reference. It’s basically a show about a mom turning her daughter into a stripper. Not something that should be associated with the church; however, songs from this particular show is what rings through my head as I watch some of the programs found in modern-day “attractional” or “seeker-friendly” churches.
So how, exactly, does Pixar, Ghostbusters, mysticism, cabaret or Santa point to the salvation found in Christ, alone?
Answer: It doesn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the theater! And I recognize just how much time, energy, and talent has gone into these productions. But how do these productions support the mission of sharing Jesus Christ with lost souls? How does it tell His story? How does it point to Him?
“Within suitable bounds, recreation is necessary and suitable; but it never was the business of the Christian Church to supply the world with amusements.” -Charles H. Spurgeon
What’s worse is, by whatever means a church uses to draw people in, is what they will need to continue to do in order to keep them. If a church uses entertainment to draw people in, then they will need to continue to entertain. Eventually, people will still leave the church, because the world will always be better than the church at entertainment.
Here is an example of what Sunday morning entertainment looks like:
Jesus made our mission pretty clear:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
I don’t think that all church Christmas programs are bad. But I do think that they should tell the story of how Jesus came down to earth to live, and preach, and heal, and – most importantly – die for our sins, so that we can be reconciled to God. It is an opportunity for the Church to share the Gospel to souls that are open to hearing the TRUTH! Why would we waste that eternal, soul-saving opportunity on some worthless entertainment that we can get in Vegas, at a circus, or on YouTube?
Another question to consider is: What else could that money have been spent on? Productions this size are expensive. Really expensive. Where could that money have gone to help, instead of just entertain? A verse that comes to mind as I ponder this question is:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 NIV
These programs seem to be at odds with this verse.
Beloved, we are the bringers of Good News! Our mission is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To make disciples. As Christ’s ambassadors, we are to represent the HOPE that is found in Him! Are we doing that?
Honestly, I don’t think so. The longer I continue to research, and write about, the New Age and Christianity, the more I realize that we – even as professing Christians – have lost our discernment. We want to believe that our truth is THE truth, even if it takes twisting a verse, or two, to get to that “truth.” May God open our eyes to the actual truth found in His Word (in context). And may He have mercy on us.
We are not to love the things of this world, but rather, we are to come out from the world and be separate.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 15-17 NIV
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”
“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 NIV
Are we, as the Church, sacrificing reverence for God on the altar of “fun” mocking entertainment? Some would say yes, while some do not see the harm. And are we throwing away real opportunities to be salt and light – the very hands and feet of Jesus – in order to simply draw people into our church buildings with a gimmick?
Whatever your personal stance on this matter, I pray that all of us would be willing to go to God – to His Word (in context) and in prayer – to find out what is truly pleasing, and glorifying, to Him.
*Some use the words “unsaved” and “unchurched” interchangeably. For clarification, when I use the word unsaved, I am referring to those who are familiar with the Christian church and have a general understanding of who Jesus is, but have not, yet, made a decision to follow Him. I use the word unchurched in reference to those who have never been introduced to Jesus nor ever stepped foot into a church.