Success is abstract.
It is relative.
It is conditional.
For the entertainment business, success is largely based on sheer numbers.
How many records are sold.
How many tickets are sold.
How many viewers on any given night.
Often, true entertainment success comes in the for of returnees.
The number of people who watch the show weekly.
The number of people who come back when the band tours again.
The number of people who purchase the 2nd or 3rd album.
In turn, the corporations and companies in charge do what it takes to get more people to buy into what they are doing. In order to be successful as an entertainer, one must "give the people what they want." One must "keep them coming back for more."
Over time, the passion and love for the art (music, acting, playing) or the sport gives way to the passion for more followers. Slowly, the focus moves from love and passion to "success." Before you know it, there are new artists, new performers, new entertainers. The difference is that these newcomers have skipped the passion for the art or sport and are solely focused on the "success"
Many churches have become institutions for entertainment.
The pastors probably started the church based on on deep love for Jesus and to see the Kingdom come. But, over time, it became less about the message of hope and love and Jesus and more about how many, how many, how many...
how many came to church?
how many came to small group or sunday school?
how many gave financially?
how many brought friends?
Naturally, we recognize that to get people to come, you need to give them what they want. That is how N-Sync did it. That is how the Super Bowl does it. That is how American Idol does it. That is how Stephen Spielberg does it.
So, churches focus on what the people want. Because to be successful, you have to meet their wants. And if you have to choose, opt for what makes the most people happy. Opt for the what will please the most people.
So, we have loud music (because that is what the larger demographic wants)...
we have shorter messages (because that is what they asked for)...
we use a lot of video clips (because they have to be entertained)...
Each week becomes less and less about the message and more about the method.
Then we realize we have no time or resources to develop and train new followers of Jesus. We have even fewer resources to help our community who is in need.
We spent it all (time, money, people) on making sure we pleased everyone with our show.
Because after all...we have to get them in the doors, right?
I mean, Jesus used miracles and feedings to get them to follow Him, right?
(Which makes perfect sense why Jesus would end many miracles by saying "Don't tell anyone about this.")
Please do not misunderstand me. The church should lead the way in excellence. If we are not going to do it well, we are not doing it to the glory of God and we are better off not doing it.
I love good music. I think it should be in the church. The church should lead the way in the arts.
I love video clips. Many of them aid in the understanding and application of truth.
It breaks my heart to see the church sell out just so they can have sell-outs and standing room only.
It breaks my heart to see churches work so hard to verbally share the message of salvation, only to have nothing place to help someone walk through life with the gift.
It breaks my heart to see so many churches entertaining rather than equipping and encouraging.