I have recently started watching a YouTube blog series, entitled ‘Beleaf in Fatherhood’. It showcases the life of Beleaf, a Christian rapper and father, and his endeavours with his two young sons. Beleaf has become a stay-at-home dad to pursue music full time, but it’s proving pretty difficult when you have two toddlers vying for your attention.
Not only is the blog hilariously funny and entertaining, but Beleaf has managed to portray the unconditional love he has for his sons similarly to the unconditional love God has for us as His children.
Every time I watch a video of Beleaf’s, the content and creativity always minister to me. The blog has opened my mind to a world, which, 15 years ago, I thought did not and could not grow: church entertainment.
Many years later, it is not strange to see reality TV shows about pastors; a gospel singing competition presented on live TV; or a Christian rap concert in a club. But has this rise been a great blessing or a curse to us as Christians?
I have seen some great results from the rise ‘Church Entertainment’; it has been a tool to help witness to unbelievers and to strengthen believers. Sharing the Gospel to others is what Christ requires from us, and ‘entertainment’ is just another platform that enables us to do so. Nowadays, you don’t have to hold a microphone and be behind a pulpit to share the Gospel; all over the world people are displaying their faith through song, dance, acting and even comedy! As a Christian poet myself, my poetry has been a great conversation-starter on Christ and His work in my life. Can I really call that a bad thing?
Furthermore, many in the church have found this rise of ‘church entertainment’ as a catalyst in discovering, cultivating and using their gifts to the glory of God and to serve the church. We can name so many artists and musicians, who started using their talent within the church settings before making a name for themselves in their respective art forms.
Many see this rise as a great way to show that Christians aren’t just the Ned Flanders-type clones, who sing Kumbayah every Sunday morning, but a peculiar people – in a good way. I remember watching a Christian comedian at a church event, and being in awe as he made the Gospel so relatable through his jokes. With more and more people reluctant to attend church services, the entertainment scene is a great way to show that church isn’t just what the media portray us to be.
As the choice of who is my favourite gospel rapper becomes harder, due to the wide variety of talent, and as another Christian event invitation pops up on my Facebook page, I’ve seen the church has become more entertainment-driven than before, and wonder if we realise its effect on us.
I call this the ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ syndrome, where we, as Christians, are more concerned about how other Christians and the world view us, rather than how we can impact the world for Jesus.
Recently, gospel artists, such as Lecrae and Mali Music, have received criticism for working with ‘secular’ artists. Blogs, Facebook statuses and tweets have labelled these artists as ‘sell outs’, the viewpoint being that light and darkness do not mix, and that we as Christians are supposed to stay sanctified and not mesh with ‘the others.’
And herein lies the problem: our focus has changed.
We have become so caught up in our scene, our events, our circles, our entertainment that the thought of evangelism – the last thing Christ told us to do before He left the earth (let that settle in) – has become alien to us.
Churches nowadays can pack out a service at the name of a special guest artist, but we all know only a few will attend the prayer meeting the following week. It’s at this point we have to ask ourselves: is the church truly entertainment driven? Has the focus on numbers, likes, views and recognition distorted our eyes off The One?
We have utilised this entertainment as a way of drawing people into our midst, without really measuring the sustainability of this method. As a result, great quantities of people are in the church for the wrong reasons. Where will all these people go when the style of music isn’t pleasurable to their ears? We know everything about drawing people in with opportunities to join the choir, events team, etc, but have lost our effectiveness to help them grow deep in the faith. Entertainment can only take you so far, the foundation of our churches has always been Bible study, prayer and fellowship and, quite frankly, being entertaining was not on the agenda for the guys in Acts chapter 2!
This focus on entertainment has almost destroyed our ability to actually fear the Lord. Several people find it hard to worship, due to the fact it feels like they are watching a performance rather than praise and worship.
Now, I am not saying to ban all Christian entertainment; we all love being entertained. I know of its great advantage for sharing the Gospel, however, the main concern is how it is being used by us Christians. 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us that, whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Therefore, in the end, God must get the glory – not us.
Let’s get back to the mandate.