I’ve thought about this for many years, and I can see no biblical basis for it.
Pastors, why are we doing silly things? What is our justification for it?
A pastor I know told his congregation if they invited their friends to Sunday School and reached 150 in attendance that he would “paint my toenails John Deere green and preach in sandals”.
Another pastor told his Church that if they brought in a certain number on a Fall Festival that he would “dress up like Donald Duck and preach in costume the next Sunday”.
Another pastor said if his Church brought in over 175 for Sunday services they could “hit him in the face with pies”, while another allowed himself to be “slimed” and “doused with Gatorade”.
Again I ask, why are we doing these things?
How is Christ glorified by it?
Who is the center of attention when you do these things?
Did God call you to be a circus clown, or a pastor?
Let’s step away from opinion now, and go to that the Scripture says. The Bible tells us:
Colossians 3:17 (ESV) And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
WHATEVER we do, we are to do it IN THE NAME of Jesus Christ. Did Christ authorize the foolishness? No. What Jesus authorized was what He said in Matthew 28:18-20. He said
(NASB) “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
C.H. Spurgeon, that Prince of Preachers, wrote many years ago:
“An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.
From speaking out as the Puritans did, the church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.
My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church. If it is a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it? “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). That is clear enough. So it would have been if He had added, “and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.” No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him.
Then again, “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers .., for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:11-12). Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.
Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the church to the world? Ye are the salt” (Matt. 5:13), not the sugar candy—something the world will spit out not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, “Let the dead bury their dead” (Matt. 8:22) He was in awful earnestness.
Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear him say, “Run after these people Peter and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick Peter, we must get the people somehow.” Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them.
In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of this gospel of amusement! Their message is, “Come out, keep out, keep clean out!” Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.
After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the church had a prayer meeting but they did not pray, “Lord grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are.” If they ceased not from preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). That is the only difference! Lord, clear the church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her, and bring us back to apostolic methods.
Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the church met them halfway, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment has been God’s link in the chain of the conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.”
Jesus did not tell us to entertain goats, but to feed the sheep. We are to “Make disciples”, to “teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded us”, to “baptize”. When was Jesus pied in the face? When did Jesus get slimed? Jesus came preaching the Gospel, telling people to repent, tell us that we are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our being, and to love our neighbor as ourself. The Bible tells us to:
1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV) So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Do ALL to the glory of God. We who minister, like the Apostles, are “like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men” (1 Corinthians 4:9). Pastors around the world are being imprisoned, martyred, their families murdered for preaching the Cross. We dishonor our calling when we put on the circus makeup. Glorify God. Make God in Christ the reason that we ask our people to do.
Not bright green toenails.
Not Donald Duck.
But for the glory of Christ. And lest you say “Well, the Apostle Paul said that he became all things to all men so that he might win more to Christ”. Here is what Paul did:
2 Corinthians 11:25-27 (NASB) Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
That s God glorifying. Let us live for Him. Time is short. Live for Him.