Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, April 30, 2010

Entertainment will replace religion!

Today I heard an interesting comment which I will repeat as a truism before I give the full context of the quote. “…[E]ntertainment will replace religion." Probably the most profound words Pete Townsend of “The Who” ever spoke.

As I was thinking about the last couple of posts on this blog, the controversy over women’s ordination, my position that the separation of clergy from laity is wrongheaded and the last post on Simple churches the statement that entertainment will replace religion really resonates with me.

When I think about what would be the main problems with a simple church versus the contemporary style of Christian churches my objections to the simple church seem to be mainly about our entertainment at church.

Here are some of the things a simple church meeting will not have:

-Good modern worship live singing and musicians (or even hymn singing as it can be very uncomfortable in small groups unless the folks really enjoy singing).

-Polished sermons

-Skits or plays to illustrate the sermon

-Entertaining young peoples programs.

That is not really a long list but it is likely, the sermon and the music the two biggest draws of the modern church. In the Adventist church it is so powerful that you generally have only half the number of people at Sabbath School that you have at the church service.

No doubt there are very legitimate elements of the larger contemporary churches, most importantly for the family is that there would be other young people that are the age of our children. For me that is probably the biggest problem with the simple church movement. Unfortunately I don’t see a way around that very large problem and that bothers me because I think many of our other problems could be helped by following the simple church format.

The other problem from the Christian outreach position is that entertainment has already replaced religion for a large portion of the Western World. That realization, even though most of us never articulated it like Pete Townsend did, has inspired such things as Mega Churches. A church to go and be entertained while still maintaining a religion connection. The problem comes when the people leave the church, they often don’t have a good connection with their fellow church members because after all they only sit together and they rarely talk of anything meaningful in their lives. But you certainly don’t need to be part of a Mega Church for that to happen it is just as common in the 100 member churches. When we don’t have the connection to the other believers in our church it is difficult to have that connection with our neighbors who don’t have our religion in common with us.

Here is Pete Townsend quote in context from the VH1 StoryTellers series description:

"Pete Townshend": One of rock's most revered songwriters, Pete Townshend performs and talks about how many of his compositions for The Who -- including such standards as "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Behind Blue Eyes" -- were originally written for "Lifehouse," a failed film concept. "The story ... is simply a time when technology delivers on its promise," he explains. "The promise of technology has always been that entertainment will replace religion."
You can see the clip here

I don’t think that in reality the promise of technology was ever for entertainment to replace religion but it may well be the end of result. Hopefully technology will also be used to aid religion but we will likely have to deal more and more with the vast array of entertainment that makes religion seems so boring. After all entertainment has trumped political knowledge for quite some time; most Americans knowing more about entertainers their about their political representatives and certainly knowing more about entertainment then the political issues they should be aware of. With many unfortunately getting their political advice from entertainers with little thought to what the facts really are. So we are at the point where entertainment is taking over the world and we have to decide what we as Christians intend to do about it as we deal with our fellow believers and the non believers.


Al said...

What is the purpose of a church? Originally they were followers of Jesus who associated together, holding to common principles which led to helping each other out. The small group movement is trying to recapture that association though it still is time segmented and theology focused, at least in the groups I’ve experienced.
The advantage of small is mobility, variety, and participation. Groups come together, function then dissolve and reform in other places – like a cloud, with people helping people understand and live the Christian life. They are the future (which is now in many places)because with no formal organization they are harder to control and suppress. That said the report received today of an Adventist Iranian pastor being beaten in front of his family and hauled off not to be seen again attest to the dangers of even holding home church.

Graham said...

As a Leader in Simple Church New Zealand. we had beautiful guitar music yesterday (Sabbath)from one of our youth. The sermon was actually the people sharing their spiritual experiences. I wonder have you attended a Simple church house group? You would be welcome to ours. Sponsored by the SDA Church in NZ. Sent in by Graham Ure, Simple church Auckland.