Monday, February 20, 2006

Dever on Entertainment and Church Dramas

Thanks for reminding me of this, Paul.
Many American churches have used entertainment-based methods of evangelism—theotainment, as it has been called by some—in sharing the Gospel with both adults and children. With adults, it often takes the form of surveying target audiences and creating an evangelistic service in which everything from the music to the sermon is geared toward making them feel comfortable—a "sit back and enjoy the show" approach. With children, it takes the form of youth groups or Sunday schools that spend most of their time thinking up fun activities that will sneak the Gospel in through the back door.

Now there is no reason to argue against communicating the Gospel in an understandable, creative, or even provocative way. But evangelism that takes the form of entertainment has some harmful side effects. Remember—what you win them with is likely what you'll win them to. If you win them with entertainment, they're likely to be won to the show rather than the message, which increases the likelihood of false conversions. But even if they're not won to the show, entertainment-based methods make repentance virutally impossible. We are not encouraged to forsake our sin by having our senses amused or our preferences coddled. The Gospel is inherently and irreducibly confrontational. It cuts against our perceived righteousness and self-sufficiency, demanding that we forsake cherished sin and trust in someone else to justify us. Entertainment is therefore a problematic medium for communicating the Gospel, because it nearly always obscures the most diffficult aspects of it—the cost of repentance, the cross of discipleship, the narrowness of the Way. Some will disagree, arguing that drama can give unbelievers a helpful visual image of the Gospel. But we have already been given such visual images. They are the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper and the transformed lives of our Christian brothers and sisters. [emphasis mine]
Mark Dever, The Deliberate Church, pp. 54-55.

1 comment:

Ryan Martin said...

He totally stole that "two great dramas" thing from Ligon Duncan. I love it though.

Thank you for the remark.