I ran across a post on Facebook and thought it was interesting. I shared it with our pastor, Superintendent Evans Brown, Sr. and he asked me to write an article on it. It had been circulated numerous times, so it’s hard to determine who is the author. The post read:
When ministry becomes performance, the sanctuary becomes a theater, the congregation becomes an audience, worship becomes entertainment and man’s applause becomes the measure of success.
But when ministry is for the glory of God, His presence moves into the sanctuary. Even the unsaved visitor will fall down on his face and worship God, and confess that God is among us.
People who go to a theatre are spectators who expect to see a show or some form of entertainment. They go expecting to see what’s been advertised like who’s singing or performing for example. People go knowing what they will see or hear and will not be satisfied if they don’t get what they think they should’ve gotten. People go to be entertained.
If we would pay attention to what’s going on in some of today’s churches, we would see a lot of entertainment and fanfare. We might see fog machines, multi-colored and moving lights, visual effects and songs that are so close to secular music that it would be hard to tell the difference between some churches and nightclubs.
We are subject to see praise dancing with scantily clad dancers. We are subject to see a comedy act where the performer has jokes about things that never happened.
There seems to be more cheering than worship! Some people can’t seem to react or as some say “feel anything” unless the service is what they think it should be, their favorite praise and worship leader didn’t sing, or their favorite preacher didn’t preach. All of the cheering is for the man and woman instead of reverence and awe of a true and living God.
Spectators will go from church to church until they find a church who has a service that meets their expectations or desire. A place that performs in a way that makes them feel something. It is written in 2 Timothy 4:3-4:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itchy ears, and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned to fables.
What’s described in this passage describes people who are spectators going to sanctuaries that have been turned into theaters.
Some church organizations have accommodated the worldly by taking on the business model of customer service. Most businesses in the world believe in giving the customer what they want and the customer is always right. There’s nothing wrong with this concept but it’s not the model to use when it comes to ministry. Customers have their opinions about what’s good and not good. But when it comes to God He knows better than we do what’s best. It is written in Isaiah 55:8, about a man’s thoughts and ways not being like the Lord’s. It is also written in Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25 about a way that seems right but the end is the way of death. So giving people what they want and catering to their desires of how a ministry should be can be problematic.
It is written in John 4:24 when Jesus said God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. When the focus is put on a style of worship or on an individual or individuals, there is no focus on our creator, but rather it’s more on His creation. Too much focus is being given on the music, performance, clothing and the building instead of expecting God to move in the service.
Success or the standard of what makes a ministry successful is set on how loud the applause is and how many people attending or joining a ministry. We’ve forgotten the joy that comes from the presence of God. We’ve forgotten how good it is to see a testimony of healing and deliverance. We’ve gotten away from expecting God to heal and deliver in a service to bring glory to His name.
Success is no longer measured by the lives that are transformed during a service where the Holy Ghost has free course in our worship services.
The church is meant to be a place where people come to hear a word from the Lord, for healing, deliverance and reassurance. The word sanctuary means sacred place, the holiest part of a sacred place such as a Christian church. It also means a place of refuge.
The church is meant to be holy and set apart from the world. People should see difference when they compare the church and Christians to people and what the world does. It is written in Romans 12:2 that we aren’t to be conformed, or act in accord with the standards, expectations and specifications of this world. We cannot be similar in the form or pattern of how things are done by the worldly. We cannot agree or comply with the world’s appearance, habits or its ways.
Church leaders should never be concerned with if they are liked or approved by people. It is written in Galatians 1:10 about church leaders who work to please man shouldn’t be the servant of Christ.
I hope and pray for the day when the church returns to its intended purpose. The church isn’t a theater. It’s a place God intended for His people to come together for worship and fellowship, to spread the gospel and be a beacon to the lost souls in our community. It isn’t a place to come hear feel good messages and hear songs that drive our emotions. The only way to get back to where God wants us is to get rid of the worldly practices.
It is written in Matthew 21:12-15 about how Jesus went in the temple of God and cleaned it out. There were things going on that was a distraction and displeased the Lord. Jesus overturned the money changers’ table and disrupted the sale of doves. Once He cleansed the temple the blind and the lame came to Jesus and He healed them.
As long as ministry is entertainment there will not be any healing and deliverance. There will not be any transformations of souls to salvation. There will not be an awesome move of God that will make everyone fall to their knees and worship God in the beauty of holiness. We have to make a choice. Do we want ministry or entertainment.
By Minister Nathaniel Jordan Jr.