Sunday, December 7, 2008
From Entertainment to Disciplemaking
"Showtime!" No More
Could our church shift from performance to mission?
Walt Kallestad posted 11/26/2008 11:49AM
Entertainment evangelism: The concept came together for me while standing in a line at a Dallas Cineplex waiting to see the Batman premiere. The only way to capture people's attention is entertainment, I thought. If I want people to listen to my message, I've got to present it in a way that grabs their attention long enough for me to communicate the gospel.
It was an epiphany, a breakthrough understanding for me. So our church strategy revolved around the gravitational force of entertainment for evangelism. We hired the best musicians we could afford; we used marketing principles and programming specialists—for the gospel's sake. Attendance skyrocketed. More people meant more staff, more programs, more facilities, more land, and of course the need for more money. We became a program-driven church attracting consumers looking for the latest and greatest religious presentations.
For us, worship was a show, and we played to a packed house. We grew by thousands, bought more land, and positioned ourselves to reach even more people. Not that any of this is wrong in and of itself—people coming to faith in Christ isn't bad. I told myself it was good—I told others it was good. But now I was beginning to wonder if I'd led my church down a wrong path.
The show was killing me.
Attracting consumers was consuming me—not in the way vision consumes a leader. It was the opposite of that—I was losing sight of the vision. Our church was a great organization. But something was missing. We weren't accomplishing our mission; we weren't creating transformed, empowered disciples...
In the old days, we protected people's anonymity; today we thrust them into community, doing life together. We used to invite them to attend church; now we invite them to be the church. I used to ask, "What can we do to get more people to attend our church?" Now I ask, "How can I best equip and empower the people to go be the church in the marketplace where God has called them to serve?"
Personal sharing from a megachurch pastor. The mission of the church is disciplemaking, not entertainment.