Last week, my church came under some criticism after it was featured in the Sacramento Bee. The paper did a piece about the amazing renovation to our children’s ministry area unveiled just before Easter. It underwent an incredible makeover in order to draw children and excite them about being in and coming to church. Before the actual Children’s Church service, there is an activity center where they can play Wii games, air hockey and other fun activities. The younger kids enter their area through a pirate ship, and the 4th and 5th graders enter a Tahoe ski lift themed area. On the Bee’s online edition, readers could leave comments. So many who represented themselves as Christians ripped us for our effort:
- “How utterly pathetic is this? Pagan idolatry masquerading as Christianity, perfect.”
- “What ever happened to just preaching the Word of God? It’s very sad that nowadays churches are trying just about anything to get people “in the door”. It’s a generation of church going people but ones that don’t really get taught the Word of God. It’s based on emotions and not Biblical truth.”
- “I’m appalled that you all have the nerve to say your [sic] Christians. Where is the book, chapter, verse that says worshiping God is suppose to be fun”
- “Entertainment is not what a real church is about. The gospel preached from John the Baptist, Jesus, and the disciples revolved around repentance and the forgiveness of sins, and nowhere do we have them resorting to entertaining people in order to present that message.”
Let me remind you. This is the children’s area! Why is it so horrifying to people that the children have fun on Sunday mornings? People get so uppity and critical when someone dares to be innovative. The article clearly stated that the kids have their own worship service, and parents and children were quoted about the kids’ enthusiasm in learning about Jesus in a way they can understand and retain. But people who have never seen it miss that and instead, criticize the manner in which people are being reached.
Last Saturday night, I attended an Easter service at the area’s largest church. The praise and worship portion of the service was reminiscent of a rock concert. Lights, smoke machines, guitar solos, a charismatic front man. It had it all. Then the pastor came out in his boots, jeans, and untucked casual shirt, sat down on a stool and shared a great message. The place was packed out with thousands of people, and probably 100 people raised their hands for salvation.
Isn’t THAT what it’s about?
If a church like that, or like mine isn’t your cup of tea, fine. Go somewhere else. That’s OK. But we’re on the same team! If a hundred people in a single service at another church ask Jesus into their hearts, rejoice! If even one family gets out of bed and goes to church on Sunday because they heard of a dynamic children’s ministry for their kids, rejoice! You’re missing out on the celebration if you get all huffy over how it’s getting done, and that grieves God.
If your church is growing, active in the community and people’s lives are being changed, awesome! If your church isn’t growing, but you’re criticizing the ones that are, perhaps you ought to reexamine your motives and your tactics. If you’re not culturally relevant in your community, you’re not going to win many people.
19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
~1 Corinthians 9:19-23