ht to Hubbsy for the prompt to write.
I’d like to pick on the church for a while, if that’s alright. Specifically the church in our age. Every church in every age has its problems, mostly sharing them with the culture it’s in, and ours is no exception. So I’ll go right ahead and say it:
I don’t want to be entertained in church.
Really. I don’t. It’s probably the least appropriate space for entertainment. I can live with politics as entertainment, with news as entertainment, with public debate entertainment, but I can’t live with church as entertainment. I can shut off the TV, I can vote a certain way, and I can withdraw from the public square, but I can’t stop going to church.
It’s essential, right? “You can’t have God as your father without the church as your mother” and all that. It’s the point we constantly try to make, that what we’re doing is important. We’re getting in touch with the God who is there.
So what does it say about God if we act as if people might get bored and leave all the time?
I am already entertained everywhere else. By Sunday, I am sick to death of being amused and pandered to. Everywhere I go, someone is competing for my attention. They are clever, witty, funny, insightful, and to-the-point.
You don’t have to compete for my attention in church. I’m already there. You don’t have to lure me back. I’ll come back every Sunday as long as you’re creating a space for interaction with Heaven. I’ll be there as long as it’s real, as long as it’s about something important, as long as you’re telling me the truth.
That’s a nerve not many people can touch these days.
Church can do that.
I think we’ve lost a lot of the beauty of sanctity and holiness. There’s a mystery about Roman Catholic cathedrals that suggests you are stepping into a place steeped in something other. That you could have an encounter there. That the skin between the world of us and the world of God is fraying terribly and wonderfully thin.
There’s no place for entertainment there. If you don’t go, it’s not because you’re bored, but because you know deep in that part of your brain that knows these things that if you see God you will die.
The cathedral is a reflection of that Old Testament idea that God is really big and important and awesome.
Our current church vision is that God is a bit drab and humdrum and needs some special effects to get people interested.
But we don’t need cathedrals to bring that idea across. We don’t need to throw out our screens and our guitars. We don’t even need to have a complicated liturgy. What we really need is to turn down the lights, turn down the volume, and just knock off the antics. We need to act like what we’re doing is important, because it is.
If we love God, we love the church. And we don’t come glibly before God. We don’t try to dress him up. Instead we try to strip ourselves down, get rid of the junk that’s getting in the way, and meet with him.
One last thing: Churches generally suck at entertainment. Don’t try it. It’s embarrassing and awkward.