Show-biz Religion

According to "church growth experts" traditional worship is out in America. It's time to get hip. No more solemn hymns of devotion to God; jazz up the music with an orchestra and keep the services moving with driving rhythms that bring people to their feet. No more emphasis on the reality of sin; concentrate on helping people just feel good about themselves. No more dull expositions of scripture from the preacher; lighten up with a few jokes and anecdotes - but don't talk more than twenty minutes. Instead of pulpits, build stages. Spend thousands on intricate sound and lighting equipment. Present the "gospel" in dramatic skits and dance routines. Demonstrate "fairness" by allowing women to take the lead in services. Provide free coffee and donuts. Don't lose sight of the single most important factor in modern religion: ENTERTAINMENT.

None of the above is exaggeration. Advocates of "contemporary" worship styles, know that our culture is completely absorbed in the lust for entertainment. Folks want to "have fun" in worship, and feel they "experienced God". And to carnal humans, only carnal stimuli can achieve that end. Baby Boomers and their offspring have noticed something missing from life, and have turned to religion; but not to the faith of their fathers. Get real. A newer age calls for "newer truth," and "sophisticated" audiences demand top-rate professionalism. Bible-banging preaching of the past is now an embarrassment. Men want the "feel" of religion without the obligation.

The problem with spirit-of-the-age religion is that people don't know God. To the minds of many, He is nothing more than a consumable commodity. He's nice to have around if you need Him, but most often kept in His place on a shelf. Modern worshipers, like modern society in general, are selfish. The mantra is, "What about me?” The quality of worship is rated on what "I get out of it." And many modern religious leaders brazenly admit this to be so.

Whatever happened to real worship? Whatever happened to the notion that Jehovah is the great transcendent God who created all? Whatever happened to the realization that God is worthy of adoration and praise? Bible emphasis on worship has never been on entertaining the faithful, but in charging the faithful to honor their Maker. To be sure, men are edified and encouraged in the process of honoring God, and yes, real enjoyment can be derived from Bible worship. But those are by-products of reverencing the God of heaven.

The dignity of true Christian worship may never appeal much to carnally minded people - but it's always been that way. God forbid we adopt the philosophy of Pragmatism in catering to the base and carnal instincts of this world. Those with "ears to hear" still appreciate the virtue of God's written word, and know that He must be sanctified in those who draw nigh Him. Our worship dare not become formalistic and perfunctory, and it won't be if we truly honor God with the whole heart.