All my life I’ve heard Bible-believing, well-meaning Christians criticize modern ministry methods because they were more “entertaining” than “Biblical”. Before I could go to “big church” the argument was over hymnals vs. projector screens. When I was 8, everyone was all bent out of shape over “dressing up for church”. People had begun wearing collared shirts and khakis instead of shirts and ties. When I was 10 it was over “contemporary music”. When I was 12 it was over small groups vs. Sunday School.
Because I was in a large traditional church, they just eventually took the middle ground on everything. The hymnals were left in the pews, and every so often they would have “Hymnal 138” written on the projection screen to satisfy the hymnal wanters. Strategically picked deacons would wear a jacket with an open collar. They started having “blended” services that would accommodate both crowds (which satisfies neither by the way), and they implemented small group ministry without getting rid of Sunday School.
Now, I haven’t graduated from Seminary, so my opinion may be somewhat invalid (although I am in Bible School… and a conservative one at that), but oddly enough, NONE of these programs/ministry techniques are addressed AT ALL in scripture. None.
Since I started going to a “modern church” or whatever you want to call it, I’ve had to participate in a lot of conversations about how our method of doing church is more about entertaining people than discipling people. As if a different music style, discipleship method, or jeans make us less Biblical. As ridiculous as that is, there are TONS of evangelicals who would argue that.
So, here’s my argument: It’s engaging, not entertaining.
The goal is never that we merely entertain people for an hour once a week. The goal is that we help them encounter Biblical truth in a way that ENGAGES them. Having the pastor take off his tie for the message is NOT engaging! Blending a service is NOT engaging! It’s a LAME attempt to do exactly what modern churches are doing!
Traditionalists criticize the modern church (that’s modern… not “post” modern) for choosing to engage their audience with excellence, when they attempt to engage their audience with mediocrity. Their failure to engage the next generation is not based on their Biblical message, it’s based on their outdated techniques. People are not leaving the traditional church because they’re “preaching truth”… they’re leaving the traditional church because they’re not preaching it well.
It’s about engaging… not entertaining.