In their consuming desire to wake the sleeping member, many denominations have transformed the worship service into a three-ring circus. We understand a preacher in England has started delivering his sermons through a ventriloquist’s dummy. Another minister recently planned an all-church dance in the graveyard adjoining the meetinghouse, explaining, “We want to show that the church is not dead, but alive.” And still another religious group brought a leather-jacketed motorcycle gang into the church building for what was called a “blessing of the motorcycles.” A number of bikes were wheeled down to the front and “blessed,” but the results were somewhat disappointing according to the church’s caretaker, who wryly remarked, “All we did was get a lot of grease on the carpet.”
But the “topper of toppers” may have to go to the First Unitarian Church of Richardson, Texas, which brought a stripper into the act. According to the newspaper report, “exotic dancer Diana King danced for the congregation on Sunday morning, and when she was through there was nothing left but her G-string and the congregation’s imagination.” The preacher defended the dance by saying, “She was expressing herself, and I think she got that over to the congregation.” We doubt anyone slept through that service.
We admit that many church members are bored. Some sleep, others would like to sleep. But these lethargic, “I-couldn’t-care-less” ho-hummers are the ones who need changing – not the worship service!
We have neither right nor reason to compromise the purity of our worship to meet the fickle whims of an entertainment-crazed public. We need to change the worshipper, not the worship.
Let’s not follow the denominational world to the circus!
(The foregoing was written nearly 40 years ago appearing as an editorial in the September, 1983, issue of the Old Paths. Religious shenanigans touted today as “new” and “innovative” are in fact, neither.)