Entertainment And Worship?

 by Rick Pidcock

Entertainment is one of the most powerful, yet dormant tools for worship that the church has at its disposal today.  Growing up in a very conservative, “separated” background, I would often hear about how we should never mix entertainment and worship.  It was argued that worshiping God in the beauty of holiness should never be polluted with entertainment.

There is much to appreciate about this view of worship and entertainment.  Unfortunately, it is true that many churches today have turned their worship of God into an entertainment tactic in order to bring more numbers into their services.  Thus, they have turned the goal of worship from magnifying the supremacy of God to having more people.

However, this view of worship and entertainment is flawed at it’s foundation.  In order to have a biblical perspective on this, we must know a little bit about both worship and entertainment.

One dictionary defines entertainment as, “capturing and holding the attention for an extended period of time.” My question is, “What is wrong with that?”  There are many things in life that capture and hold our attention for an extended period of time.  My wife, for one example, is a very entertaining person according to that definition.  Watching the Denver Broncos play is extremely entertaining.  Even listening to a good sermon can be entertaining, while also challenging.  Almost everything in life can be entertaining.

We begin to see how entertainment and worship are related when we understand the effect that entertainment has on our lives.  Aristotle once said, “Music has the power to shape character.”  Entertainment is the driving force of American culture.  It has more power than government, the church, and often, even the family.  It can be used to teach some aspect of the gospel, or to entice our hearts toward the values of the world.

1 Corinthians 10:31-33 say, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but the advantage of many, that they may be saved.”

The purpose of this blog is to show how worship invovles every area of life, and that would include our entertainment lives.  Whatever we do, we are to “do all to the glory of God.”  Therefore, we should view entertainment as a vehicle of worship, rather than an obstacle to worship.

It is also interesting to note that Paul follows verse 31 with a plea to be culturally sensitive for the sake of the gospel. He says that while we worship God in all that we do, we should do it not for our own advantage, but to point others to the gospel.

What a much more beautiful picture of entertainment we begin to see in this passage!  Rather than immersing ourselves in entertainment, isolating ourselves from it, or compartmentalizing it as separate from the holiness of God, we see that we can magnify the supremacy of God by using entertainment as a means of pointing our hearts and the hearts of those around us to the gospel.

It is for that reason that I launched a new activity group at my church last night. Once a month, we will be meeting together to watch a movie and to discuss it in light of the Bible.  Due to the centrality of entertainment in our culture, I believe that it is important for church leaders to take an active role in helping worshipers to have a biblical approach to their entertainment lives.  And this cannot be done by ignoring it, condemning it, or compartmentalizing it.  It must be done with great wisdom and care.

Last night, we watched The End of the Spear, a recently released movie about the life and death of Nate Saint and his missionary friends who took the gospel to a tribe of natives in Ecuador in the mid-1900’s.  During the movie, I handed out a paper with four major questions on it for people to be thinking about during the movie.

The questions were:

1. What is the overall message of the movie?

2. How was that message communicated?

3. How does this message stand in light of the gospel?

4. What does this say about the gospel’s power in our lives?

I may design future questions specifically for each movie.  But they will generally be the same idea.  And after each movie, I will be posting a short review on Living Worship.  I pray that this will be an edifying tool in your life to help you live worship in your entertainment lives.

* The picture at the top of the article is taken from www.turnoffyourtv.com.

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