Is this a church or a nightclub?

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As I entered the dark room with flashing bright colourful lights that were cutting through the darkness like lightning bolts, I instantly questioned whether I had entered the doors of a church or had stepped into a nightclub.

The loud music and the immediate comment by a friend that 'it's like we're at a party' only helped to emphasise my thoughts. Clearly I wasn't used to such visual drama at a church service or maybe it was just my age beginning to show.

Has the church lost the plot?

Arising confusion on whether one is in a church, nightclub or party may signal the need to reflect on whether the church has lost the plot. I recently watched an interview with a mega church member who was attracted to the church because there was music and they thought it was like a party. They weren't really going there to get a connection with God but to just have fun. What gave them hope was this 'sensation of happiness'.

Sometimes I get the impression that the church is trying so hard to make the gospel attractive to this generation, that they have turned it into a marketing scheme that people can buy into. So much time is spent trying to appeal to the masses that the church ends up forgetting who they really are and what the church is really about. What started as a desire to glorify God and make Him known now appears to have been placed on the back burner.

When one enters a church, should they really be trying to figure out whether they're in a church or at a social party? Is this what God intended for the church and a place of worship?

It's not about entertainment

Entertainment and "feel good theology" appears to be the trend in churches today but I believe this was never meant to be the church's prime directive. It is the church's responsibility to demonstrate to Christians and non-Christians alike that what we do isn't about entertainment but is all about worshipping God in spirit and in truth [John chapter 4 verse 24].

If we were to take away all the lights, computer graphics, pounding music, and all the things we use to create an "ambience", would people still come to church? Or do people heavily rely on these things to be able to worship God? Furthermore, do we attend church to worship God or do we simply attend church because it makes us feel good?

I understand that we live in a different era and in response we may have to alter the methods we use to reach people. I'm not condemning or upraising any style of worship. But I believe we need to be careful not to lose ourselves in the process. It shouldn't become more about entertaining crowds than gathering together as the body of Christ to worship God.

God has given us these tools that help create a great atmosphere for worship but it should never become a stumbling block to our faith. We need to be honest about our intentions and know who it is we're lifting our hands up to. Continually remembering that the very essence of worship is not found in these tools, but is found in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is Him that our praise should be directed to.

Otherwise we may be guilty of breeding a form of Christians that are in it for pleasure and not true salvation. Self-pleasing and not God pleasing. As soon as it no longer feels good, they abandon the faith.

If we want to see true conversion to Christ, our focus needs to remain on the true gospel. People need to understand that we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God, and for this reason we need a Saviour. The only way to have a right standing with God is by confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in our hearts that God raised him from the dead and we will be saved [Romans chapter 10 verse 9].

The body of Christ should be different

There needs to be an evident difference between the world and the church. Is it possible to do as the world does and still remain true to the word of God? At some point, a line needs to be drawn.

I've learned that although church can be fun, I'm not there for entertainment. I can be inspired at church but I'm not there to hear a motivational speech. I may have a great time with friends, but I'm not there to be part of a social club. I want to listen to and be challenged by the truth of the word of God. It shouldn't be about making myself "feel good". My desire is to revere, worship and honour God. Not just in church, but in every aspect of my life.

This article was originally published in Christian Today Australia and is re-published here with permission