A while back, I received a glossy flyer in the mail from a newly planted ‘church’ in a city near us.
Being the vigilant and inquisitive person that I am, I wanted to know a little more about this new “church plant,” so I looked them up online.
Their official website says that you can expect an exciting worship experience.
What’s wrong with that you ask?
Well, nothing. . . if that’s the only thing you look at.
But if you look at this statement about an “exciting worship experience” along with other ingredients, you will see a bigger picture develop.
Their official website reveals that this organization was planted by a larger association which endorses Rick Warren and is a part of the purpose-driven, culturally relevant, seeker sensitive, emergent, “church growth” movement.
Now, when I look at the phrase “an exciting worship experience” in this context, it seems like more of a selling point to attract customers.
The purpose-driven “church growth” movement is a big business, and those who are involved in marketing its institutions understand something very simple: if you want to attract customers, grow the customer base and increase profits — you have to lure people in with excitement and entertainment.
In many cases, this type of religious marketing is very effective at attracting crowds, because many many people are absolutely obsessed with excitement and entertainment.
Indeed, the adrenaline rush and the “religious high” of “an exciting worship experience” can be addictive, even more addictive than drugs, alcohol, and sex.
For many of us, it is challenging to just sit still and quiet our minds or read a book in silence. How could we?
With our smart phones ringing, buzzing and beeping all times of the day and night, hours upon hours of background noise from the TV, music and videos streaming online, and almost constant notifications from social networks — we are overstimulated.
Sometimes when we are praying or reading the Bible, things that we saw and heard on TV or online pop into our mind and distract us from focusing on the Lord.
Our minds are overloaded with sounds and images of frivolous entertainment and our carnal senses are overindulged by earthly amusements.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that entertainment and excitement are ‘sinful’ or that once you become a Christian your life should be boring.
Entertainment and excitement have their place. But not as a selling point or a gimmick to attract ‘customers’ to a business that calls itself a ‘Christian church.’
When we experience an exciting moment in worship, let it be orchestrated it by the Spirit of God, and not manufactured by the flesh.
If the aim of providing “an exciting worship experience” is to attract and retain members and increase financial profits — then we’re not really worshiping God, but ourselves and the institutions we have built.
When an institution attracts people with “an exciting worship experience,” they have to keep inventing new gimmicks with higher levels of excitement to hold the interest of supporters. Just like a crack addict, they have to smoke more and more crack in an attempt to recreate the first high that they experienced.
What happens when these people don’t find the “worship experience” exciting anymore? Do they drift off into the New Age Movement or the signs and wonders movement to find a more exciting “worship experience”? Do they become bored and head for the nearest exit?
For many people (like myself), advertising “an exciting worship experience” accomplishes the exact opposite — rather than attracting me, it is a deterrent which discourages me from attending.
I’m not interested in attending institutions that view me as a potential customer and try to lure me in with “an exciting worship experience.” I honestly find that type of soliciting an insult to my intelligence, a degradation of true worship, and a gimmicky substitute for Biblical fellowship.
True worship is about denying ourselves, taking up our cross daily and following Jesus. It’s about walking in the Spirit and abiding in the truth of Jesus Christ. It is about assembling with other Christians to hear the teaching of God’s word and do the “one anothers” listed in the New Testament. It can be exciting at times for sure. But other times, it is not so exciting.
Jesus worshiped the Father in Spirit and truth 24/7. Would you characterize His life as “an exciting worship experience”? Jesus worshiped the Father as He wept in John 11:33-35. Was He excited then? No. He was expressing grief and empathy.
Jesus worshiped the Father while He prayed for strength in the Garden of Gethsemane. Do you think He was having “an exciting worship experience” in that moment? I don’t think so. I think that He was under an immense amount of physical and emotional stress.
Was Jesus having “an exciting worship experience” when He suffered and died on the Cross? I don’t think so. Yet He worshiped the Father by submitting to His will to the point of death on the Cross.
I could bring up countless other examples from Scripture demonstrating that worship has nothing to do with excitement, thrills, chills, and goosebumps. Yet we seek after “an exciting worship experience” based on emotionalism and our own happiness, not the will of the Father.
The Lord was not focused on giving people “an exciting worship experience.” He was focused on preaching the Good News of salvation, inviting sinners into the Kingdom of God, and making disciples.
He rolled up His sleeves and did the dirty work that the scribes and Pharisees didn’t want to do.
Jesus said “if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me.“ Are we lifting up Christ to draw men unto Him, or are we lifting up “an exciting worship experience” to draw men unto our own organizations?
Some professing Christians have replaced Jesus with “an exciting worship experience.”
We have replaced the Lord of glory with contemporary worship music, professional lighting, dry ice smoke machines, hip and trendy stuff, and slick marketing. And then we wonder why the number of “dones” and “nones” are on the rise and Western ‘Christianity’ is losing the youth.
Who do we think we’re fooling?
We claim to be seeking Christ, but the truth is that many of us are seeking a fix or a “hit” like a religious junkie. And it seems that we have overdosed, and it’s time for us to go into rehab and detox.
We know how to entertain, we know how to dance, we know how to rap theology, we know how to sing, we know how to play instruments, we know how to look and sound trendy, we know how to attract crowds with trinkets, we know how to give people goosebumps and have “an exciting worship experience”, but we don’t know how to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples who follow HIM and bear good fruit that remains.
Many Believers are not falling for it anymore because we are DONE with this superficial presentation and religious performance calling itself “church” “Christianity” “faith” “worship” or whatever.
Nothing and no one can compare to the reality of Jesus Christ and walking with Him in simplicity and freedom. Not rock bands. Not Christian rap. Not the best vocalists in town. Not slick projector presentations. Not huge flat screen monitors at the front. Not stage lighting. Not a high-tech sound system. Not a cafe in the foyer. Not the best musicians on this side of heaven. Not a dance team. Not a ‘Christianese’ self-help sermon. Not a skinny-jeans-wearing ‘pastor.’
Jesus doesn’t need anything or anyone added onto Him to make Him ‘more appealing’ or ‘more attractive’ to anyone — not even an “exciting worship experience.”
If people don’t want Jesus for who He is, then let them be. God isn’t desperate. Mankind is in desperate need of a Savior, and those who recognize their desperate need for Him will trust in Him and worship Him for who He is without any additives.
If you know this, then an “exciting worship experience” is no comparison!
I end this article with a passage about the Supremacy of Christ.
“15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:15-20)
Stop trying to excite people and preach Christ!~