By Kenneth D. MacHarg
An article in the local newspaper highlights a new church forming in our town. It’s a “Cowboy Church” which caters to those who either are or dream of becoming a cowboy or cowgirl.
Nothing wrong with that. Churches are finding great success in leading people to the Lord by targeting specific interests and serving a niche clientele. After all, the majority of churches that Polly and I have served have focused primarily on expatriates and third-culture people.
And this one does just that. “You have people that have never owned a horse or gun but they sit and grew up watching Bonanza and the Lone Ranger,” the paper quoted the new pastor as saying. “If you’ve got a Western or country heart, then the…Cowboy Church is the place for you.”
That sounds fine, as far as it goes. But what really got my attention was the statement that the service “will end with a gunfight reenactment.”
Wait a minute. A gunfight reenactment? I’m sure the folks at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina would want to see that. Or, perhaps not. One of their services ended with a gunfight a few years ago that left nine people dead.
Now, this isn’t a launch into the gun-rights debate, though there may be some hints here and there.
It’s more a concern about what worship is all about and the blatant misuse of entertainment in what should be a God-focused experience, not people-focused.
For the life of me, I cannot understand how a reenactment of a gunfight has any place in a service of worship.
Lest we forget, the audience in our worship is the Lord, not the congregation. The actors (worshippers) consist of the people in attendance, and the direction of the action is Godward, not human oriented.
From the opening prayer to the Bible readings, the praise music, hymns, readings, the preaching of the word, the time of commitment, the baptism, the sharing of communion, the closing prayer and benediction, all are elements of worship that are directed toward God and designed to please Him and only Him.
When we dilute what we do with distractions, interruptions, and, yes, entertainment, when we finish the service with something other than a focus on God and his saving power through Jesus Christ, we are missing the whole point and are attempting to please ourselves rather than worship our powerful and almighty Lord.
From Psalm 96:1 we read: Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
That does it, powerfully, honestly, and completely. We don’t need anything else than that.
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