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worship & entertainment (part 2)

A blog post is often pressing home a particular point. But reality is often more complex. More balanced.

My recent post on worship and entertainment is a case in point. I was arguing the dangers of becoming entertainment-focused. Well-known John Michael Talbot sent me this tweet in response: “Worship that doesn’t entertain a bit is boring, and entertainment without worship has no soul. The balance is good liturgy.”

He is, of course, quite right. There is nothing intrinsically good about boring worship!

There is an old joke (not so common in our smoking-is-not-PC world) about a Franciscan, a Dominican, and a Jesuit. The Franciscan and the Dominican asked their superiors if they could smoke while they were praying. Both superiors were outraged: “No, that would be a sin!” The Jesuit asked his superior if he could pray while he was smoking. His superior was delighted: “What a great idea!” [Those who understand Ignatian spirituality will realise deeper truths in this joke].

Please don’t use my blog post as an excuse for continuing leading tedious, dull, dreary, mind-numbing, tiresome, lackluster, unexciting, humdrum, uninspiring worship.

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5 thoughts on “worship & entertainment (part 2)”

  1. I guess it really depends on what ‘entertainment’ means in this context. I feel for our priest at St.Thomas Anglican Chuch. It is so important to him to make the congregation happy, to meet all the needs, to be loving, compassionate and attentive to all…. each week he writes up his sermon and it is often shared ahead of time with a few people for input…I find myself thinking “WOW, I could NEVER come up with stuff like this.
    Creating an engaging, stimulating inspiring service is a challenge enough, without having to worry about making it ‘entertaining’ also. Unless of course the inspiring words are considered entertainment.
    Fr.John’s love for his congregation is to me, inspiration enough, and when we add on to that his lively, often laughter inspiring, humble sermons, I think it is fantastic. I would hate for him to also worry about overhead projectors, and a possible song/dance sort of thing. As it is our Priests give SO much of their time. My appreciation to them all.

  2. One thing I think all parish priests should do is have a good look at what they ‘present’ liturgically on Sundays by either sitting at the back of their church and watching from the congregation’s point of view. If the parish has only one priest then a camcorder can be set up to do the same.

    I think some clergy really have no idea how their parish’s worship ‘looks’ to the average punter. Some might be surprised at what they see.

    1. Thanks, Robert. One would hope that regular self-review and seeking the reflection of trusted others and regular video recording would be part of any person’s responsible, ongoing leadership of liturgy. Compact digital cameras and even cell phones are all now quite capable of doing this unobtrusively. The idea of practising in front of a mirror is so last millennium!

  3. Isn’t the focus sometimes too much on the pastor? Rather than deciding how the pastor should entertain or not entertain the crowd, I would think each pastor should focus on clearly being led by the Holy Spirit in writing and delivering the sermon. If the Holy Spirit is truly leading, than the delivery should never be “boring” and should be exactly what the congregation needs to here. In other words, I think the question for pastors is not “is this an entertaining presentation?” but “how can I be in closer communion with the Holy Spirit?”

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