Could it be that the growth experienced by much of Pentecostalism in North America is due in no small part to our accommodation to cultural forms of entertainment? Well rehearsed bands, light shows, ambient settings, charismatic celebrity pastors, etc? If this idea has at least a degree of legitimacy, we ought to be concerned and spend a great deal of time contemplating new ideas and ministry alternatives.
Entertainment may produce larger numbers of people in our churches on any given Sunday, but a culture of entertainment will produce a lack of depth and commitment (remember we sit in seats that all face the stage as we watch the show unfold in a manner that breeds a lack of real participation). If these same things are removed, perhaps in favor of a more liturgical form of worship (i.e., the church calendar), would we experience a decline in our church gatherings?
Furthermore, what kind of disciples (I use that term loosely) are we producing by adhering to a liturgy of entertainment?
If the Sunday sermon proves to be little more than a series of self-help, fortune cookie cliches, the congregation will gradually begin to reflect that emphasis. Might as well spend an hour watching Entertainment Tonight.
My observations suggest that as long as the band is kicking it and the preacher is bringing it, things will be fine (notice the emphasis on performance). However, if these things change, we often become dissatisfied and consider moving on to another show.
What are your thoughts, experiences and concerns? Have you observed similar, if not identical, scenes play out in your circles?
Any suggestions and ideas on how best to move forward?