Entertaining the Broken

Are we giving people what they really need, or are we sending them into feel-good complacency?

In this day and age, entertainment has become, not just a treat or something to pass the time, but our whole lives. We’re fed entertainment every part of the day, and it makes me wonder, is it doing us any good?

As someone who’s entering adulthood, I’ve grown tired of the constant obsession with the very thing we all say is a good. I crave a good, intellectual talk. Something that will challenge me and my beliefs. Something that will bring me closer to Jesus and His love for me. Something that will bring me closer to another human. Friendships are made from humble conversations starting with a “Hello,” after all. Entertainment is only bringing complacency.

So why do we think entertainment brings us closer to Christ? Why does the church believe we need entertainment to keep youth in church?

I’m going to be honest here (and maybe a bit controversial), but I’ve never understood the concept of youth groups. If their purpose is to get youth meeting other like-minded people their age, why not just go up to someone and say “Hi,” in church? If it’s to make youth engage in Christian activity normal church can’t do, why can’t everyone, of all ages join? Why make it exclusive to the youth? I just can’t see the point. However, I could be wrong. Maybe there’s something I’m missing. If they’re there to help youth meet and strengthen each other, then it has my full support, but from what I see, the focus of a majority of them is entertainment.

So should we be entertaining youths? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Church should be an enjoyable place. But have we replaced the desire to grow in Christ, with the desire to socialize and be entertained? It’s what everyone wants after all, but entertainment is not what broken people need.

Today there are more suicides then ever, especially from youth, and unfortunately even from older children; but it seems we’re staring blindly and can’t see a problem. And that’s the problem, we aren’t seeing one. You have to trust me on this, you won’t know there’s a problem until you listen. We must talk to them, ask them about their lives, their struggles, their faith. We all have problems. We all have doubts. We all have temptations and struggles, but if we keep pushing them under the rug with sports and games, problems will never be erased. They’ll never be understood.

I’m sure everyone who has gone to church has heard the term “Seeker friendly.” However, most of what we’re doing, isn’t seeker friendly. Youth want to know each other. They want to know who God is. He’s not just an empty idea, but a living being who wants a personal relationship with us! That’s a whole lot more exciting than that disco show, isn’t it?

Maybe we should stop trying to lure people in, and start feeding those we already have? We can lure a hundred in, but it’s not going to go anywhere if each one is starving for substance. And I believe that, like a flock of birds, when we start feeding, others will come. We all know that holding out the food and never giving it only results in the bird giving up. I think we all feel like that bird sometimes,  we just don’t show it. We have a screen over our hearts and in front of us. We’re all standing in front of you, everything together, trying to be so cool (perfect time to place some Twenty One Pilots lyrics!). That screen needs to be realized and pushed through with the love of Jesus, not ignored.

So what if we took down our multi-colored screens that lure and attract, and instead opened the doors and fed the hungry? What if we stopped entertaining the youth and started to really get them? We don’t need to wear baggy, ripped pants to appear approachable, we just need to offer a smile and a hand. Maybe we should all offer a smile and a hand to everyone once in awhile. And maybe, forgive me if this is a stretch, we could befriend and talk to everyone, in all age groups. Youth to the elderly, adults to teens, etc. We might just find something amazing. We might find something real. Who knows?


12 thoughts on “Entertaining the Broken

  1. People have deserted our church in search of youth groups that their kids would be more entertained by, believing that that would keep them in the faith. They were wrong.
    Young people need substance whether they know it or not. It’s the time when they’re deciding who they are, what is important, what they really believe. We have to give them the full truth then. It’s no time for games.

    1. Thank you Madblog for your comment! You’re spot on, this time in our lives is the most important as the choices we make will decide who we will become in the future. We need to help them and guide them in the ways of the Lord and His Word. Anything else from the church is a distraction from what’s important.

      God bless, and thanks for reading!

  2. Great post. You have some insights here that are beyond your years, and I can relate to a lot of your frustrations. I’ll have to email you since my own thoughts are too long and perhaps not appropriate for the general public. Thanks again for sharing this post. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  3. I agree with you Lucas, so brilliantly written. I myself go to a youth group, and I admit that Friday nights are entertainment filled. Entertainment. It’s a horrible word. But it’s what the western civilization is feeding on these days. SCREENS EVERYWHERE, TV, IPHONE – And you may cringe when you hear this one – IPOD, COMPUTER. It’s a spirit that has engulfed the western world, and I believe is robbing us, youth especially, of the time and attention we all need to give to Christ. So when these kids come along to youth, I observe that they are enveloped in entertainment. But they do hear the good news. They are given a chance. If kids are seeking entertainment rather than God, they are making that choice. Yes it may be because the screen is “way more fun.” But they had that choice. To put down the screens and listen. You say, “Well cant they just talk after church.” Well, they do. They talk before church, after church, during church, and when they’re sleeping lol.
    You also said, “Why can’t people of all ages join in?” In theory, that’s what happens on Sundays. I think our church is earnestly trying to deal with the troubles that each age group has. Youth have different issues to young adults. Young adults have different issues to seniors. And so on.
    I think the church has tried to win the youth without using entertainment. They’ve tried and tried. Pending on if the faith is real, you may get results. But the majority of youth will stick to their screens, and stay with they’re friends. So the church is trying a different tactic, (not one that i agree with though) the church is fishing with a lure, an imitation.
    BAIT – real, LURE – fake,
    BAIT – tasty, LURE – plastic,
    BAIT – must be found by the scent it gives off. LURE – swims around saying here i am, I’m exciting and fun.

    It’s up to each one of us to show the world the real thing. Then the youth may leave their entertainment, and follow Jesus.

    1. Thanks for the comment CJ! Love what you said here. People are so consumed by entertainment and technology that they forget what’s important. Also entertainment and its distractions isn’t limited to technology, it can be found in anything. You and I and many others have fallen into its trap many times, but I feel the Lord is calling us out of the system. As one of my favourite bands, the Violent Burning says in their song, “Brother,” “Church is entertaining me, a place of theology, go on plug in your eyes here beneath the satellite; but I’m still looking for Jesus, singing out on this lonely street.” I believe here is where there’s a problem. If youth are faced with a choice to let go of their hold of entertainment in turn for Jesus, why are we making it so hard? If entertainment robs us and is as horrible as you say, why is the church still feeding it? If the youth are engulfed in their devices, why isn’t there a change? Here is where another problem lies. “If kids are seeking entertainment rather than God, they are making that choice.” This is so full of truth, but it presents an idea that contradicts the very purpose of a youth group. We should ask why kids are attending a Christian group if they’re looking for entertainment? Shouldn’t they be attending for the sole purpose of hearing about God? Offering the same thing secular groups give only serves to make youth group a “clean” alternative to its secular counterparts, which is a club where teens can hang out. There’s no desire to find God and grow in faith, only the desire to be entertained and to have fun. And so this offers another problem: youth who attend church carrying only the desire to be entertained. No one goes to church to be entertained, but to hopefully grow in faith and learn from God and His Word, whilst youth groups open the door to come sorely to be entertained. That’s why I believe they remain engulfed in their screens and never change. The choice shouldn’t be to remain transfixed with entertainment or leave it, but to offer God only. The problem is is that we think God needs help, so we make church attractive, but in doing so, we’re allowing compromise and complacency. It’s better to have only two youth’s who love the Lord to attend, then to have fifty who care nothing for Him.

      “You also said, ‘Why can’t people of all ages join in?’ In theory, that’s what happens on Sundays. I think our church is earnestly trying to deal with the troubles that each age group has. Youth have different issues to young adults. Young adults have different issues to seniors. And so on.” I’m not sure if I’m missing something, but I don’t believe different age groups have different problems. If there is, could you specify? People will always flock with those their own age. It’s only human. It’s why I proposed the idea of talking to those outside our age groups. However, by having the idea that people of different age groups have different problems, then the only way to help them grow is to group them with people their own age. If this isn’t what you are getting at, I apologize. The truth is, youth are young and full of fire, but we don’t have a complete grasp of things yet. We’re still learning. But the elders, the ones who have gone through what we are going through, can help us a lot more than someone our own age can. And likewise, the old and wise can learn from our youthful fire and passion. The church shouldn’t be divided by age, but should be made one. Age shouldn’t be a dividing factor, and if it is, are we really helping one another? Will it become a case of the blind leading the blind? Of course we can have friends and people we socialize with our age, but to help us deal with our struggles and temptations and issues, learning from those who are going through the same thing, instead of learning from those who have already gone through them, isn’t the best idea in my eyes.

      “It’s up to each one of us to show the world the real thing. Then the youth may leave their entertainment, and follow Jesus.” I couldn’t have said it better myself! Overall, our calling isn’t to entertain, but to love and show the broken the way to life.

      God bless you CJ, and thanks again for reading. I really love these discussions, please keep them up! They’re really helping me understand more about my own beliefs, and they make me question what I thought was right beforehand. It’s discussions like these that help us grow. They make us question our own beliefs and ideas, and above all, they challenge us! If I lived in a world where everyone agrees with me, I believe it would be a horrible world to live in. It’s one of the reasons I consider you a great friend CJ 😀

      1. WELL! Where to begin… 😀
        You must understand this is my view, not the church’s. Why does the church choose to host 60 kids not on fire for God rather than 2 kids that are? {in a nutshell} I can’t speak for all the kids at youth, for I don’t know each and every heart like Jesus does, but I do believe there are some youth there that are on fire for God.
        If the church’s sole focus was on those two kids that were on fire for God, they wouldn’t survive. They want more kids….MORE. If there was only two youth attendants, then it wouldn’t be worth making a “youth night.” The point is, I don’t think it is the church’s fault that there aren’t many kids out there that are hungry. They’re full. If the church is putting out a call for all kids desiring for a greater purpose and a real relationship with Christ and no one comes, then where do you go next? …Where do you go next??
        No one is without entertainment of some sort these days, so it is impossible to have a youth group without it. Correct me if I’m wrong. Show me a youth group that only features worship and a sermon.

        It’s like living in a world that is so full of industrial smoke that you can’t see 10 feet ahead. The youth is addicted to this smoke. You ask them to come outside the city where there’s no smoke that can harm them. They’ll say – “But all my friends are here. I don’t know what it’s like out there. It’s boring!” The church hand them a cigaret, and say “Come with me.” This is what is happening. – What should be the answer? – I chose smoke because it kills you, and so does entertainment.

        Ahh, yes. Age groups. “Will it become a case of the blind leading the blind?”
        Now I didn’t say these age groups were being being counseled by others their own age, — They are being “helped” by Leaders of all ages. Usually the older the person in need the older the help but who am I to say God can’t work in the form of a younger fellow Christian.

        An example of different issues different age groups have …
        Youth, Problems with school. Problems at home with parents having a divorce.
        Young Adults, Getting employment. Caring for their new wife. A new baby perhaps….
        Seniors, dealing with grown up children. Teaching to the young. Often multiple serious health issues that come with growing old. And so on.
        I’m done for now, let me know what you think, and I’m not contrary to your beliefs about youth groups, only looking for answers! 😀

      2. Thanks again for commenting CJ! I’ll be happy to offer some answers.

        I find that your first paragraph is pointing again to the contradiction of the purpose of a youth group. Is it just a social outing with no real purpose? If so, then high numbers should be the goal. There are definitely many kids who truly love God out there, but if there’s only two who do, would it be fair to start luring more in with gimmicks, no matter what their state of faith? I think we need to ask what’s more important, a youth’s relationship with Christ and the strength of his faith, or that he’s surrounded by those his age, no matter the state of faith, whom he can socialize with? “If the church’s sole focus was on those two kids that were on fire for God, they wouldn’t survive. They want more kids….MORE.” I think these are the words of an extrovert, lol! There are many, including myself, who are introverts, who are quiet and shy and who definitely do survive, and prefer, a quiet place where they can grow in the Lord. You say here, “If there was only two youth attendants, then it wouldn’t be worth making a “youth night.” Since the Bible says if two or more are gathered in my name, there I am, I think it’s entirely possible to still have a service. And hey, if those two love God, then it might actually be better than a service with sixty who don’t care.
        Is it possible to have a youth service without entertainment? Hmmm, I think I’ll answer this further down.

        I like your example with the smoke. We know that entertainment is definitely not a bad thing in itself, it’s how we use it that can be bad. If we’re addicted to it, then it is dangerous as it can distract us from what’s important. If it’s our focus, then it definitely can kill us spiritually. The thing is, you say the church is, metaphorically, handing out the very thing that can kill them, in order to give them life. I’m sure you know this is a pretty bad way to go about things, so I won’t explain it (unless you’d like me to). Christians are meant to be set apart from the world. If we’re offering the world, what does that mean? The youth might hesitate, maybe because of their friends as you said that might think they’re weird (I know that’s a common argument) but it’s all up to them, our job is to offer salvation from that smoke. So how do we counteract this? How do we get youth to church, to salvation? By offering something different, and here is where the greatest tool for salvation can come to light: conviction. Luring with entertainment and the world isn’t convicting anyone of their ways, it’s only feeding the sinful patterns they were grown into. How do we allow the Holy Spirit to convict? By giving them the chance to repent. I’ve written a post on repentance before, but I’ll offer some insight here. Repentance is not about feeling sorry for our sins, it’s turning around, picking a different path. I’m not sure what your church preaches, but if kids are still glued to the world as you observe they are, it may not be repentance.

        “The point is, I don’t think it is the church’s fault that there aren’t many kids out there that are hungry. They’re full.” Really? The notion that the world can fill us is an utter lie we continually fool ourselves in believing. No one can tell me deep down that they’re completely satisfied with their life. There’s always something missing, something that needs to be filled. So I may have to respectfully disagree and say that I believe it is the church’s fault that kids are hungry. Why? Because they’re not offering anything of substance! Kids see youth and its games and gimmicks and plans and see nothing different, nothing that truly excites them. They need a demonstration of power, as the Bible puts it. They need to see God move and have His way. We need miracles, prayers, people consumed by the Holy Spirit to the point of crying out in utter joy and bliss! This right here is what is different and what lures in. 1 Corinthians 2:4 says it brilliantly, “And my speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” This is what we need, this is what should lure kids in, and this is where the church has gone wrong.

        So maybe we can answer our first question. Can we have a youth service without entertainment? Of course we can, if we stopped trying to attract them with it. Trust me, the presence and power of God blows everything else out of the water. Entertainment will become the equivalent of eating stale bread once we realize what the Lord can do, if we focus on Him and let go of our own ways and what we think kids want. “If the church is putting out a call for all kids desiring for a greater purpose and a real relationship with Christ and no one comes, then where do you go next?” CJ, the answer is right in front of you. Jesus! The church should go to Jesus and ask, “What would you have us do, Lord?” Maybe God has something else for them? Maybe if we trust in Him instead of doing things our own way, it will be a different story. Why? Because we would have let go of all control and find who we truly are. The grand answer. A vessel that the Lord can use for His glory! I keep coming back to the song “Curse,” by the band, My Epic, that says, “You are not a corpse and we’re not a movement, you’re alive and we’re the flesh you’ll wear to the world’s end,” and on their song, “Selah,” “I want to be a dead man, just a body you can live in, that and nothing more. I want to be forgotten, and beautifully eclipsed in, just the Gospel and it’s sweetness, that and nothing more.” It’s hard, to let go of it all, but what follows is only amazing.

        As for the age groups and problems, I was only looking at spiritual problems and didn’t look at the natural ones, so for that, thanks for reminding me, haha. Yeah, God works in everyone, even children, so to stick with the belief that only those of a certain age group can help those with the same age, is incredibly limiting to God, and puts emphasis on our own understanding and ways rather than God’s.

        I hope these answers are have helped, CJ. Thanks once again for commenting. God bless! If you have any other question, please feel free to ask 🙂

  4. That sums it all up, but I wold like to say that when I said “The world is full,” I did not mean THE WORLD IS FULL. I’m saying, their time, and energy is going into this hunger (which is ultimately for God) which they can’t satisfy. 😀 You’re not disagreeing me! ;P oh, “when two or three are gathered in my name there I am in the midst.” When I said it wouldn’t be worth having a youth group, I meant it would be more worthwhile if it took place at someone’s house, or after church. Ifkwim. Once again, just clearing things up, to show there isn’t any disagreement.

    1. No problem CJ, I love what you had to say and it definitely made me think. And yeah, you’re absolutely right. What are we waiting for?! Hey, maybe you and I will be the first ones to carve a new path the youth can go down instead of the entertainment route. You just never know.

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