Architecture of Amusement: The State of the Modern Church?

The three-fold answer to boring worship songs, sermons and religious celebrations.

Yesterday I spent an enormous amount of time with my family at .

A notable event for someone who doesn’t like amusement parks, roller coasters or water parks.

Yes, I can be a fuss bucket and a sourpuss and my idea of fun is an afternoon spent reading.

But the fact that I actually had fun is news worthy.

In fact, I found myself engaged on a conquest with my son and daughter and wife to ride all the water rides.

At 90 degrees, it was a hot day, so this conquest makes sense. But I hardly wrote this blog post to tell you about my mini-vacation.

The Real Reason Behind This Post

Anyone who’s been to Six Flags–or any large amusement park–knows one thing:

You wait. A lot.

Naturally, for a writer, waiting involves thinking and observing [as opposed to talking], so I found myself in awe of the the complex architecture behind rides like ,  and the family raft ride known as the Big Kahuna.

In most cases, we’re talking 200 foot plus high platforms built out of steel and wood. We’re talking countless engineers, surveyors and project managers involved. Countless welders and carpenters. A year or two of contstruction. Months of renovation. Days of maintenance.

And all of this money, time and energy is focused on one thing…

Our amusement.

That’s right. Amusement parks are the world’s solution to the problem of our boredom, excess cash and the heartache that is our marriage, job or life.

The Chronic Problem with Amusement Parks

Unfortunately, our taste for amusement exceeds our ability to satsify it. So in the race to attract more attention and foot traffic, amusement parks are on the never-ending drive to build the tallest or fastest roller coaster.

You can always go one foot higher. One mile faster. One turn farther. Until you hit the absurd.

So let me shift gears and ask you a question: Can you see the problem this would cause inside a church?

The Easter drama must exceed last year’s. The worship songs must sound better than last month’s. The sermon must engage more people than last Sunday.

Thus, when we treat church as a place to entertain, distract and amuse, you eventually hit the point of diminishing returns, and people walk away, bored, frustrated and annoyed.

Here’s My Point

If worship songs, sermons and religious celebrations are boring, the answer isn’t to go the way the world goes. The answer is three-fold:

  • Preach a clear, graceful .
  • And celebrate Good Friday, Easter or Christmas by drawing a thick, black line back to the origins of those celebrations: Jesus Christ.

Not that you can’t enjoy a good Easter drama at your church or the best Christian rock band in the region.

Just don’t make it the solution you are offering the world. Make it the gospel that opens eyesexposes sin and raises the dead. In worship. In sermon. And in celebration.

Make it architecture of amazing grace rather than architecture of amusement.

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