By Dan Flournoy
The extent to which some brethren have gone in an effort to fill the pews defies belief. We are being told that the church must adapt its message to meet the challenge of our entertainment oriented society. One church defends its "drama ministry" saying:
Here is a sampling of what is being done by some of our brethren: The minister comes out to announce that "Today's theme is pressing toward the goal. We have a skit prepared to help us make application." Lights are dimmed, two spot lights are pointed to two men with wireless microphones dressed for the roles of high school football coaches. Then a '70s-style Howard Cosell announces, "The Game of Life." Three high school football players (with jerseys, pads, and tight pants) come out to play their parts.
One is carrying the weight of sin (a black cloth partially draped over his jersey) being tackled ... caught from behind and dragged down by sin as he loses sight of the goal. Another, having received a long pass, dropped the ball before he could reach the goal. Finally, there is a missed field goal.
Now on to the locker room where there are heated exchanges between players. The coach settles everyone down and exhorts each to press toward the goal. This is done by focusing on the goal, throwing off the weight of sin, etc.
The assembly claps enthusiastically as the lights come up again in the auditorium.
Friends, all of this emphasis on dramatic productions is just another way to attract the worldly minded. These productions may entertain, but they are not sanctioned by the God we are to glorify. Short plays may be helpful in illustrating Bible truths to the immature mind of a child, but here comes a time when folks must "put away childish things" (1 Cor. 13:11). On the one hand we are being told that folks today are well educated and sophisticated. We cannot hope to gain them by old-fashioned methods. On the other hand, we are told that we must resort to little skits and short stories rather than a logical presentation of the gospel by way of a sermon.
The chief problem with the entertainment based approach is that it is man-centered rather than Godcentered. It is concerned with what people want, not what God demands. It sees the church existing for people's sake rather than for God's sake. The very idea that this generation is so simple minded that they can't understand the love of God from a sermon but must have a dramatic production to get the point across is insulting.
After nearly 2,000 years, it is still "God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe" (1 Cor. 1:21). The growth of the church in the first century has nothing to do with entertaining the populace but everything to do with preaching the gospel. Paul asked, "For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men?" Notice his startling conclusion: "If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ" (Gal. 1:10). Let us remember that the power to save the lost is in the words of God — not acting ability — but presenting the whole gospel in sincerity and soberness.
Published August 1996