By Donald Townsley
1. It is Not the Mission of the Church to Entertain Saints or Sinners. (By “entertainment” we mean eating together, fun and games.)
a. Jesus did not come to earth to “seek to entertain,” but “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10).
b. The gospel is not God’s “power to entertain,” but “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16).
c. The church is not the “support of entertainment,” but the ‘~Pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).
d. The mission of the church in the world is to preach the gospel to the lost (1 Tim. 3:15; Phil. 1:5; 4:14-17; Mk. 16:1516); to edify its members (Eph. 4:11-12); and to minister to its own in time of need (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32; 6:1-6; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; Rom. 15:25-27; Acts 11:27-30; 1 Tim. 5:16).
2. It is not scriptural for the church to furnish entertainment, for no Scripture authorizes it.
a. We must respect the silence of the Scriptures (1 Pet. 4:11; 2 Jn. 9-11).
b. The idea that we can do something because it is not expressly forbidden in the Scriptures creates respect for what the Bible does not say, rather than what it does say!
c. When one’s action in religion is governed on the assumption that he can do what is not expressly forbidden, the door is wide open! Through this door comes instrumental music in worship, praying through Mary, baptizing babies, ad infinitum!
d. John said, “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18).
e. Paul said “not to think of men above that which is written” (1 Cor. 4:6).
3. Entertainment is not “church business”; it is home or family business (the church does have business – Acts 6:3).
a. Paul tells the Corinthians that they had houses to eat and drink in: “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? Or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not ” (1 Cor. 11: 34).
b. Disciples in Jerusalem ate at home: “Breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart” (Acts 2:46, ASV).
c. From these passages we learn this truth: Christians have houses to eat and drink in: the social aspect of life is family business and God does not want the social business of the family mixed with the spiritual business of the church.
d. It is the social business of the home to “wash feet” – show hospitality (1 Tim. 5:10). We have pointed out to our Baptist friends who want to make “foot-washing” church business, that it is not church business but the business of the home to show hospitality. “Foot washing” is in the realm of the social and should not be mixed with the spiritual, just as entertainment is in the realm of the social and should not be mixed with the spiritual.
4. For the church to furnish entertainment is to put no difference between the holy and the common, the sacred and the secular.
a. God has always made a difference between the holy and the common. Ezekiel 22:26: “Her priests have done violence to my law, and have profaned my holy things: they have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they caused men to discern between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them” (ASV).
b. Entertainment is not authorized in the New Testament which is sealed with the blood of Christ (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 9:23-28), therefore it is common and cannot be a part of the work or worship of the church with God’s approval. All things used in God’s service must come under the blood of Christ.
5. It leads away from spirituality by substituting “food for the stomach” for food for the soul: music and laughter for meditation and prayer.
a. Philippians 3:19: “Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.”
b. The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, not carnal in nature, and does not appeal to the fleshly appetite (Rom. 14:17; Jn. 18:36).
6. The Bible term “fellowship” is never used in reference to entertainment.
a. The Bible does not teach just any kind of “fellowship”: the term is limited to what the Bible teaches about it.
b. Bible fellowship is based upon gospel teaching (1 Jn. 1:3-4,7).
c. It is fellowship men enjoy with one another and with God because Jesus died, and which would have been impossible without his death. Jesus did not die to bring men and women together to drink coffee and eat doughnuts (or hamburgers)!
d. Jesus’ death brings men and women together in fellowship in song (Eph. 5:19); in fellowship in prayer (Acts 2:42); in fellowship in the support of gospel preachers (Phil. 1:5; 4:14-17); in fellowship in suffering for the cause of Christ (Phil. 3:10); in fellowship in the harmony that exists among members of the church one with another (1 Cor. 12:1827); in fellowship with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit (1 Jn. 1:3,7; Phil. 2:1), and in fellowship of the ministering to the saints in need (2 Cor. 8:4; 9:13; Rom. 15:26).
7. Church-furnished entertainment is denominational in origin, and has not added to their (the denomination’s) growth.
a. The following is from an article by Connie W. Adams in which he quotes from a Baptist paper published in Florida: “Not in sixteen years have the number of baptisms in Texas sunk to such a low. There are 4,000 Baptist churches in the great state of Texas. Last year these 4,000 churches baptized 53,956. This was the lowest number since 1949. This was less than 14 baptisms for each church. . . It take(s) one Texas Baptist 12,045 days to win one soul.” “The secret of soul-winning is following Jesus. Maybe it would not be out of order for Texas Baptists – along with all Southern Baptists – to stop cooking in our church kitchens; stop playing in our athletic buildings; and call for an oldfashioned prayer meeting . . . Get back to God; back to the Bible. On fire with . . . real love in our hearts for lost souls. Maybe this is the answer.”
b. A church that furnishes entertainment cannot claim to be undenominational in practice when it does that which is denominational in origin.
8. Church-furnished entertainment was opposed by gospel preachers in terms nobody misunderstood forty years ago.
B.C. Goospasture, in an editorial in the Gospel Advocate (May 20, 1948) said, “It is not the mission of the church to furnish amusement for the world or even for its own members.” “The church would come off a poor second if it undertook to compete with institutions established for the express purpose of entertaining people.” “Only as the church becomes worldly, as it pillows its head on the lap of Delilah, will it want to turn from its wonted course to relatively unimportant matters.”
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 1, pp. 3-4
January 3, 1991