People today tend to get bored and want to feed the flesh. This makes seeker sensitive churches or "easy Christianity" churches a huge sensation and they have lots of members. Some of these "easy Christianity" churches may call themselves Baptist but I call them "Baptwists" because they claim to be Baptist but they twist the truth. If preaching unsound doctrine isn't enough (2 Timothy 4:3-4) then why not have a rock and roll concert to make it even worldlier? Instead of a preaching you're having the worshipers cheer for more singing. Christian songs are given rock and roll tunes.
Old time preachers warned about the rise of entertainment driven churches
What's really so scary is that the entertainment driven church was already predicted long ago. The late Charles H. Spurgeon said in "Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats":
An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.
From speaking out as the Puritans did, the church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.
My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church. If it is a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it? "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). That is clear enough. So it would have been if He had added, "and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel." No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him.
Then again, "He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers .., for the work of the ministry" (Eph. 4:11-12). Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.
Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the church to the world? Ye are the salt" (Matt. 5:13), not the sugar candy---something the world will spit out not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, "Let the dead bury their dead" (Matt. 8:22) He was in awful earnestness.
Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear him say, "Run after these people Peter and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick Peter, we must get the people somehow." Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them.
In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of this gospel of amusement! Their message is, "Come out, keep out, keep clean out!" Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.
After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the church had a prayer meeting but they did not pray, "Lord grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are." If they ceased not from preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). That is the only difference! Lord, clear the church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her, and bring us back to apostolic methods.
Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the church met them halfway, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment has been God's link in the chain of the conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today's ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.
Worldly music or worship music?
There's always the excuse that you can worship God in any way you want. That is both true and false. God has given people the freedom of choice but has restricted it with rules for one's own protection. You can worship God by singing this hymn or that hymn but you cannot use worldly music. There's the freedom to use words to make whatever hymn you want but you have to make sure that the words glorify God and not man. You have the freedom to compose any tune for the hymn but you should always make sure that it's the tune that fits right in to worship. It's not just words or tune but it's all about the lyrics.
The rise of Contemporary Christian Music and Christian rock is a real problem. Some of these people are even allied with the Vatican. It made my heart break to learn that Don Moen actually sang for Pope Francis. I wasn't surprised to learn some "Christian" artists are actually allied with the Vatican or are members of anti-Catholic "Christian" cults. Using rock and roll to sing praises destroys the purpose of what worship should be. It should be God-centered and not man-centered.
What should also be mentioned is the immoral fruits of the "Christian" artists. It's very common for the blatantly secular entertainers to live an immoral lifestyle. It's already expected that the next door Catholic priest may be raping an altar boy or nuns who have sexual affairs with each other or with the priests. It's already expected religious Roman Catholic artists may be living an immoral life. But the problem is even bigger when we endorse these "Christian" artists and their worldly tunes as "Christian" when the evidence suggests otherwise.
It's no wonder that the late D. Martin Lloyd Jones said:
Once you have lost the division between the world and the Church–the Church ceases to be truly Christian!
I couldn't agree any more. Using worldly means to drive in members just creates more and more false converts. It's no wonder why that the worst trap door churches today may not be the local Roman Catholic parish, the local Mormon parish, the local Watchtower parish or any "Christian" organizations that are not Christian but so-called Christian organizations that have lost its division between the world and the Church. How sad it is if you wanted to go to a Baptist church but it turned out to be just as much as a gate of Hell as a Roman Catholic parish.
Focusing on God and not entertainment is what having a Sunday worship service is about
While I do believe that no Sunday worship is ever complete without singing hymns, praises and the choir but it's not the focus. Singing hymns and praises can't be separated from worship or to set the atmosphere for worship. Nothing is wrong with the pastor mentioning some jokes to drive a point in the message to liven up the atmosphere as long as he doesn't tell any indecent stuff.
After reading John F. MacArthur's book "Worship: The Ultimate Priority" which I have found on pages 29-30 under True Worship:
Those sermons on worship also signaled the beginning of a new era for our church. The worship in our Sunday gatherings took on a whole new depth and significance. People began to be conscious at every aspect of the order of service - the music, the praying, the preaching, and even offering - is worship rendered unto God. They began to look at every kind of superficiality as an affront to a holy God. They saw worship as a participant's activity, not a spectator sport. Many realized for the first time that worship is the church's ultimate priority - not public relations, not recreation and social activities, not boosting attendance figures - but worshiping God.
Furthermore, as our congregation began to think more earnestly than ever about worship, we were continually drawn to the only reliable and sufficient worship manual - Scripture. If God desires worship in spirt and truth, and if worship is something offered to God - and not just a show put on for the benefit of the congregation - then every aspect of our worship must be pleasing to God in harmony with His Word. So the effect of our renewed emphasis on worship was that it heightened our commitment to the centrality of Scripture.
No worship service is ever complete without the sermon. Did you bother to read Acts 2? Peter gave his first pastoral message in that whole chapter. Every time there was fellowship there was always preaching on the Word of God. From page 36-37 of "Worship: The Ultimate Priority", I would like to also quote on what MacArthur said about the importance of preaching:
Preaching is an irreplaceable aspect of all corporate worship. In fact, the whole church should revolve around the ministry of the Word. Everything else is either preparatory or a response to the message from Scripture.
When drama, music, comedy or other activities are allowed to usurp the preaching of the Word, true worship inevitably suffers. And when preaching is subjugated to pomp and circumstance, that also hinders real worship. A "worship" service without the ministry of the Word of God is of questionable value. Moreover a "church" where the Word of God is not regularly and faithfully preached is no true church.
Edify the flock. Scripture tells us that the purpose of our spiritual gifts is for the edification of the whole church (Ephesians 4:12; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:12). Therefore all ministry in the context of the church should somehow be edifying - building up the flock, not just stirring emotions.
Above all, ministry should be aimed at stimulating genuine worship. To do that it must be edifying. This is implied by the expression "worship... in spirit and truth." As we have noted repeatedly, worship should engage the intellect and as well as emotions. By all means worship should be passionate, heartfelt and moving. But the point is not to stir the emotions while turning off the mind. True worship merges heart and mind in a response of pure adoration based on the truth revealed in the Word.
Music may sometimes move us by the sheer beauty of its sound, but such a sentiment is not worship. Music by itself, apart from the truth contained in the lyrics, is not a legitimate springboard for real worship. Similarly, a poignant story may be touching or stirring, but unless the message it conveys is set to the context of biblical truth, any emotions it may stir are of no use in prompting genuine worship. Aroused passons are nt necessarily evidence that true worship is taking place.
Genuine worship is a response to divine truth. It is passionate because it arises out of our love for God. But to be true worship it must also arise out of a correct understanding of His law, His righteousness, His mercy and His real Being. Real worship acknowledges God as He has revealed Himself in His Word. We know from Scripture, for example, that He is the only perfectly holy, all-powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent source from which flows all goodness, mercy, truth, wisdom, power and salvation. Worship means ascribing glory to Him because of those truths. It means adoring Him for who he is, for what He has done, and for what He has promised. It must therefore be a response to the truth that He has revealed about Himself. Such worship cannot rise out of a vacuum. It is prompted and vitalized by the objective truth of the Word.
Unless the pastor preaches the Word of God accurately and God-honoring music is used then it is not a Sunday worship service. If the whole focus is no longer God then it is no longer a worship service. The question is are you attending a worship service or just a Sunday morning or evening concert? It would be a cold day in Hell before a Sunday concert will ever become a Sunday worship service.
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