George E. Darling, Sr.
Entertainment is not any part of the church’s program. The church was never meant to entertain men. In the first place, entertainment is a thankless and difficult task. The theaters, concert halls, and the entertainment enterprises of the world, employing the services of actors, lecturers, clowns and comics, are engaged in a business in which they find it to be hard work to keep people from hissing instead of laughing. For the Lord’s church, entertainment is an undignified, unprofitable, and impossible undertaking. There is not the slightest authority or command for it in all the Scriptures. It cannot be found in Paul’s solemn and tearful commands to Timothy. It cannot be found in our Lord’s command to Peter about feeding His sheep and the lambs—not one word about amusing or entertaining them. Sheep and lambs do not need to be amused, and shepherds do not need to waste their time trying to do so. There’s not one command that says, “Go ye and entertain men.” The command is to preach the gospel, not entertain and amuse.
It seems that many congregations have gone insane on the subject of entertainment. Preachers are sought after who can, “entertain the young folks.” Every kind of meeting is devised to keep the congregation happy during the week and on Sunday the preacher wanted is one who can use his sparkling wit and broad jest to amuse the young people. No matter what else happens, the people must be entertained for fear that if they are not entertained they will drift away and be lost.
The most dangerous thing the devil has ever done for the church is to implant the idea of entertaining the people. He knows that people will be saved if the one object is to preach the gospel of Christ, so he has suggested that the gospel is not enough to draw young people to the church and keep them there. His doctrine is Christ (plus jokes), Christ (plus magic), Christ (plus entertainment), lest the young people be driven away by simple, direct preaching. Thus, he has sidetracked the church, making it part lyceum, part theater, part kitchen, part playroom, where the clapping of hands, rattle of plates and bursts of uproaring laughter and applause have replaced sobs and cries of, “What must I do to be saved?.”
In the sight of God, a sidetracked church is a pitiable spectacle, turned from soul saving to amusement. Preachers posing as popular entertainers, taking more pride in their ability to entertain than to preach the gospel. Going about using the church building as a stage and church members as a theatrical cast, putting both the church and its members on the level of an amusement hall, and lecturing on every subject but Christ.
A preacher should be too busy, should have better work to do, should seek to hold up an undivided Christ to a lost and dying world. Can you picture, John, Peter, James, or Paul on a lecture tour? Or Timothy away from Ephesus on an entertainment engagement in Troas? Herod would have been delighted had John the Baptist turned from preaching Christ to some popular subject of the day. He might have written a testimonial of John’s learning, outstanding wit, and fine points. He might have predicted for John a greater future in the entertainment field. Brethren, if such activities would have been out of place for Peter, John, Apollos, Paul, or any other early day preacher, then why are not such activities out of place today?
Our young people are not suffering from too little, but from too much entertainment. They are suffering from a lack of the consciousness of Christ and New Testament Christianity in practice. They do not need recreation and entertainment from the church. They need salvation! They do not need hamburgers and cokes. They need the Living Bread and the Water of Life!