One of the new songs, called One Shot, has a catchy little chorus that says:
All around the world
Every boy, every girl's got one shot
To prove what they're all about
I'm gonna sing about my God
And it doesn't matter what's hot
I thought about that and how it plays into all the “entertainment” oriented church services, using every popular hook we can think of to get folks in the door. What does that say about our one shot, our first impression? If we hook folks with gimmicks, how will they ever take us seriously when we talk about the life or death truth of the gospel? Have we squandered our one shot in that case?
Again, there are always exceptions. God often works in spite of us. The truth of his Gospel is powerful on its own, and often does its work in spite of the trite way we present it. But the church has become addicted to gimmicks and gadgets to try and draw the crowds and show that we’re bigger and better than the church down the street. And then we wonder why we end up producing shallow church members.
Way back in the day, Sheila Walsh recorded a song called Triumph in the Air (back when the girl knew how to rock). Even back then there were signs on the horizon about how we present the gospel. The song says: “Games, that’s all we have played. All we have made of the truth we have freely received.”
How right she was. The church has become a game. Sex sermon series to grab attention. Gimmicky T-shirts and bumper stickers that trivialize the truth by trying to imitate the world. On and on. (Check out the Museum of Idolatry some time for some sickening examples of this stuff).
Again, once we’ve hooked folks with these things, how do we then overcome the first impression of shallow crowd pleasers to show them the life or death seriousness of sin and the only way to overcome it? I’m afraid the answer is, we probably won’t in many (most?) cases.
I know that some folks think I’m a bit hypocritical. After all, here I am quoting a Newsboys song to make the point to begin with. Not exactly the most suit-and-tie kind of stuff. But I’m not saying we can’t like contemporary music, or even enjoy some entertainment. I’m asking whether or not we take the Gospel seriously enough to allow the Gospel to be the center of what we do. Why do we think the church needs gimmicks to reach people? Why isn’t the gospel enough?
Seems to me that God’s Word had been enough for the church for about 2,000 years. Then suddenly, we realized that it was lacking, so we had to add some more “fun” stuff to it. Otherwise, folks just won’t get it, right?
We may only get one shot at this. I’d rather fill my canon with the power of the Gospel message and let God do a work, than try to manufacture a bang on my own which may only lead to a long term fizzle once the excitement wears off. We were called to make disciples, not satisfied and entertained attenders.
To again quote that new song from the theologically astute ‘boys:
Are we scared to stand out from the crowd?
Make a difference in our own town?
If we stay silent with our voices now
The rocks will cry out
Believers let me hear you shout
As I’ve said here recently, and often, the church is called to stand out, not fit in. It may not be the best way to grow a big popular country club, I mean church. But it is the way God will build His church. Let’s use our one shot wisely.
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2, ESV)