In the United States, our culture is largely based upon and driven by entertainment. From TV News, to political talk shows, to the job site, to Christian worship, to the school room, to your drive home, everyone is always being entertained. And like good Americans, we typically run to the newest and most entertaining thing. Many Christian churches cater to this desire for entertainment by having movies, bands, skits, sculpting, mime, ceramics, clowns, Harleys, and other such things during worship. I have a Roman Catholic friend who recently went to a mega church for the first time. His one response was, “It was waaaay too commercialized!”
There are several ways to confront this error of mixing entertainment and worship. One way is to consider the Reformation teaching of the ordinary means of grace. The Westminster Shorter Catechism explains this well in Q/A 88: “The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.”
I also love Thomas Vincent’s commentary on this Q/A.
“We ought not to make use of any ordinances which are of men’s appointment only, in order unto salvation, because this is will-worship, which is both vain and offensive; and we cannot groundedly expect the blessing of the Lord upon, or to receive any true benefit of any ordinances, but by those alone which are of his own appointment only (Col 2.20-23; Matt 15.9).”
“The ordinances [of Christ] are called the ordinary means by which Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption, because the Lord hath not wholly limited and bound up himself unto his ordinances; for he can in an extraordinary way bring some out of a state of nature into a state of grace; as Paul, who was converted by a light and a voice from heaven: but the ordinances are the most usual way and means of conversion and salvation, without the use of which we cannot, upon good ground, expect that any benefit of redemption should be communicated to us.”
Well stated. God has promised to work through the ordinary means of preaching, sacraments, and prayer. We do well to stick to those and trust in God’s wisdom, Word, and Spirit. It does require patience and faith, but it gives us the confidence that because he has promised to do so, God will work through these things in his timing, for his glory, and the church’s good.
[Side note: I really appreciate Vincent’s commentary on the WSC. FYI, it was published first in 1674 and quickly given public approval (“it is very worthy of acceptation”) by men such as John Owen, Joseph Caryl, Thomas Manton, Thomas Brooks, Thomas Watson, and other eminent Presbyterian preachers/teachers of the day.]