The Entertainment Trap for Worship!


Retro TVAs I talk with Pastors, worship leaders and musicians I often hear an underlying thread of concern as churches seek to be relevant in their communities.  The concern can be easily phrased in a question:  “How do we compete with the entertainment of our society?”  Sometimes the question is even more direct:  “How does our church compete with bigger churches and ministries down the street or in our city?”  These questions reveal a great deal of pressure felt by planners and leaders of worship services to present a Sunday morning package that is of high quality, musical excellence, flawless timing and addresses up-to-the-minute perspectives on daily life.

The pressure these leaders feel is not unwarranted.  Many individual church-goers regularly complain about the quality of the music, the uninteresting sermons, or that somehow the church is not “meeting the needs” of themselves or their families.  Having just watched the latest movie the night before (or attended a concert, watched the sporting event, or whatever), they leave church to go home and flip on the television to watch football, a weekly animated TV series, and multi-million dollar 30-second commercials.

It’s hard for the church to compete with that, or even keep up.  Faced with declining giving as the economy continues to struggle, many church leaders wonder how they will make mortgage payments, pay the utilities and still keep their staff members fully employed.  There is just no way to inject the time, energy and finances needed into the worship and music program to even come close to the competition.

So—what should the church do?  My answer may surprise you.  I suggest that we don’t bother trying to compete.  We are not, after all, part of the entertainment industry.  We are the church.  I realize that some church services look more like concerts or major productions every week, but let’s not get sidetracked into that discussion.  Let’s admit that we are not part of the entertainment industry and that our goals for Sunday morning are wholly different.

What might some of those goals for worship be?  Putting our heads together, we could probably come up with a pretty good list.  Worshipping and glorifying God would be at the top of the list.  Hearing from the Word through reading and exposition.  Prayer.  Fellowship with one another.  Each of these put the goals of worship in a different perspective than the goals of entertainment.

I would also like to point out some purposes for our worship services that are not often at the forefront.  Like the ones mentioned above, these are not part of our entertainment saturated culture and make the church unique in its role in society.

For example, our worship services should be reflective of the relationships within our church community.  Those people leading worship, singing special music, reading Scripture, calling attention to important weekly events, serving communion, receiving the offering—all of these people are our friends and our family members.  These are our neighbors and co-workers.  They represent the relational aspect of our gathered community for worship.  It is with these people that Paul calls us to unity.  “Put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:14-15).

Another purpose is that of service.  We are called as individual members of the body of Christ to serve each other.  That is the whole point of the spiritual gifts that we have received from God.  The gifts have come from His hand, by His will, and are expressly given for us to serve others (1 Corinthians 12:7&11).  Peter sums it up clearly, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).

I think we can get the picture just from these examples.  The church is a living organism with a special place in society and in our lives.  We don’t have to compete with the entertainment of the world or other churches because we are about relationships—with God and with other people.  If we view our worship services as extensions of these relationships, then the pressure to compete falls away.  Who else can have personal relationships with the people in our churches except those of us in our churches?


For more of Mark’s writing, see his book list at


Posted on November 3, 2014, in Christian Worldview, Content of Worship, Corporate Worship, Leadership, theology, Worship Leader and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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