“Entertainment for the Saints”

By K.P. Yohannan

Religion, I discovered, is a multi-billion dollar business in the United States. Entering churches, I was astonished at the carpeting, furnishings, air-conditioning and ornamentation. Many churches have gymnasiums and fellowships that cater to a busy schedule of activities having little or nothing to do with Christ. The orchestras, choirs, “special” music—and sometimes even the preaching—seemed to me more like entertainment than worship.

Many North American Christians live isolated from reality—not only from the needs of the poor overseas, but even from the poor in their own cities. Amidst all the affluence live millions of terribly poor people left behind as Christians have moved into the suburbs. I found that believers are ready to get involved in almost any activity that looks spiritual but allows them to escape their responsibility to the Gospel.

One morning, for example, I picked up a popular Christian magazine containing many interesting articles, stories and reports from all over the world—most written by famous Christian leaders in the West. I noticed that this magazine offered ads for 21 Christian colleges, seminaries and correspondence courses; 5 different English translations of the Bible; 7 conferences and retreats; 5 new Christian films; 19 commentaries and devotional books; 7 Christian health or diet programs; and 5 fund-raising services.

But that was not all. There were ads for all kinds of products and services: counseling, chaplaincy services, writing courses, church steeples, choir robes, wall crosses, baptisteries and water heaters, T-shirts, records, tapes, adoption agencies, tracts, poems, gifts, book clubs and pen pals. It was all rather impressive. Probably none of these things were wrong in themselves, but it bothered me that one nation should have such spiritual luxury while 40,000 people were dying in my homeland every day without hearing the Gospel even once.

If the affluence of America impressed me, the affluence of Christians impressed me even more. The United States has about 5,000 Christian book and gift stores,1 carrying varieties of products beyond my ability to imagine—and many secular stores also carry religious books. All this while 4,845 of the world’s 6,912 languages are still without a single portion of the Bible published in their own language! In his book My Billion Bible Dream, Rochunga Pudaite says, “Eighty-five percent of all Bibles printed today are in English for the nine percent of the world who read English. Eighty percent of the world’s people have never owned a Bible while Americans have an average of four in every household.”

Besides books, 8,000 Christian magazines and newspapers flourish. More than 1,600 Christian radio stations broadcast the Gospel full-time, while many countries don’t even have their first Christian radio station. A tiny 0.1 percent of all Christian radio and television programming is directed toward the unevangelized world.

The saddest observation I can make about most of the religious communication activity of the Western world is this: Little, if any, of this media is designed to reach unbelievers. Almost all is entertainment for the saints.”

Revolution in World Missions


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27 thoughts on ““Entertainment for the Saints”

  1. Well said, it is so true. With all the luxuries in the North American churches, many mission agencies lack funds for their overseas mission.

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  2. Its comparable to “Feeding Sheep or Entertaining Goats”. The church was never meant to be a social club or to entertain those in the pew. It was intended to be a place where the little Lambs are fed and grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus. From there, they go out into the hwys and biways and preach the gospel of the shed blood of Christ to hell bound sinners.
    When christian women dress like the world, christian men will miss a meeting to play a round of golf and all of us have discarded the Authorized Version out the window, we know that we are living in the last days. We need to get back to basics.

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  3. Painfully convicting and it underscores the selfishness of our culture. Will the Lord find faith when He returns for His people? I pray He will. We have plenty of work set out for us to do for HIs glory, that’s a certainty.

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  4. I came over from “Chief of the Least”. I agree with K.P. Yohannan’s words. I remember visiting a mega church a few years ago in a somewhat large city, and they put on an actual “show” with professional stage lights, sound, the whole works! I kept thinking it was going to end and the pastor was going to preach, no. It was pure entertainment. Our church has raised funds to build a new $500,000. building for the youth. My husband called them on it, saying the church was selfish and that money would have done so much for two places in the world (Haiti and Papua New Guinea) where some church members had recently visited on mission trips. (have you ever read “No Longer a Slum Dog” by K.P. Yohannan? Excellent. Convicting.

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  5. there is nothing new under the sun… “church” has always been a booming business, but in some respects it has to be. Most think we can no longer reach the unchurched without meeting their expectations. The gospel will reach the unchurched when preached in truth, but there is a balance to what churches have to do today to reach the lost.

    Don’t be so quick to criticize the “mega” churches without knowing their true intentions, they are a big target for sure, and certainly they miss the mark often, but many are trying the best they know how to reach people for Christ in a media frenzy driven culture. Not making excuses for them, I just know it’s a balance. If Christ is not proclaimed in a church of any size, they have totally missed the point. Great article, glad I came across it.

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  6. That’s very true, here in El Salvador, our church has plastic lawn chairs and is in desperate need of some fresh paint! Very different from churches on America! Also there are no Bibles in the church and may do not even own Bibles. One of the things that our mission does is hand out Bibles and try to make God’s word more available to people here.

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  7. I just want to point out that I attend a church that’s is held in a Performing Arts Theater weekly, we believe that by the end of this year, we’ll have our own home church for the first time in years.

    They have an awesome performing worship team, but they are true believers of Christ that meets weekly and digs into the word. The pastors of the church make it their mission to reach out to people all over Washington, D.C.

    I want to point out that the author said at the beginning that many churches, not all. I do agree that there are churches don’t follow what they are suppose to be doing. But even the Bible says that churches fall, it happens. No one ministry or church is perfect.

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  8. The better way to go is take talented Christian people and have them work in Hollywood, in the war itself. There are many Christians in the show business that are making a HUGE impact. Christians need to stop mingling with and entertaining each other, and start sharing their gifts with the world, the people who really need them the most.

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  9. I can definitely understand where you’re coming from with this post, but I feel compelled to present another side of this, too. Although there is a lot of “Christian entertainment” going on, there is an obvious need to “evangelize the church” in America as well. When I say this, I mean to mobilize nominal CHristians to action who have been taken in by the prosperity gospel and its many tentacles (one of which is this isolation from the rest of the world). Although the Holy Spirit is the only one who can change hearts and minds in order to compel people to do the Father’s will, He does use those of us who are willing to follow Him and speak up for truth, even if it means that we will face persecution, be called judgmental, etc. in the process.

    I like the point you make about English v. other languages of the world and how those other languages are still in need of Bibles. This is a statistic I only recently found out, and now that I know it, it’s awakening a passion to go and produce a Bible in one of those other languages (God-willing only, of course!).

    Thank you so much for wiriting down your thoughts and passing along the sentiments – we definitely need to be stirred to fruit-bearing Gospel action in place of slefish ‘gospel activities’. 🙂
    -Seanway

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  10. No organisation owns more real estate than christianity. And there are over 22,000 different christian cults -each with their own place of business…sorry worship.
    I think MacDonalds comes second in the real estate stakes.!

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  11. During college, I received a free copy of the book from which this is excerpted. It’s still available for free (physically and digitally) online, if anyone’s interested in checking it out.

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  12. Hello fellow bloggers and readers!

    First of all, I love you guys and y’all are awesome. Thank you for your thoughtful comments and discussion.

    Second: Thank you to those who recognized I did NOT write this. It was by the great K.P. Yohannan. I’m humbled by anyone who think I could write it, but I have neither the nerve nor ability.

    Third: Please note this is an extended quote from a much longer work, so while it feels like a hyper-critical assault on the church, we’re only seeing a singular statement from a very intelligent person. Obviously it is not balanced and does not apologize for itself. I do appreciate those who gave a fair, nuanced response.

    Fourth: If you felt “offended” or “hurt” by this quote, please recognize the irony. You are making a reactionary statement to someone’s reactionary statement and pointing fingers at someone who is pointing fingers. Which makes you just as much as part of the problem and not the solution. How about offer articulate discussion as many here already have?

    Lastly: I agree with every word written by Pastor K.P. We would be insane to assume that the American church as a whole is anywhere near biblical. I love the church, but for real: it’s upside-down crazy out there.

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  13. I felt compelled to re-visit and offer a comment along with the re-blogging of this work by K. P. Yohannan. I am fortunate to belong to a fellowship of believers who, I believe, honestly seek to worship our Lord in truth. Still, just as your article and added comment suggests (that’s putting it lightly), rarely do our church services in America resemble that of the audiences the NT was originally written to. I think what concerns me most, is not that we have been blessed with so much, it’s our unwillingness to be givers and goers as the first church was. It’s humbling to hear that two thirds of the world’s people groups still have no translation of the Bible into their language when I have probably 30 Bibles in my library.
    World hunger, illnesses, and poverty stricken communities fill our planet, yet we complain when the AC isn’t cold enough. Thanks for these probing words, friend.

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  14. It’s time to return to the pure gospel of Christ without the trappings.

    I read a book called “Reimagining Church” and it raised the question of what we would have if we stripped away the programs, offering plates, choirs, robes, salaried ministers, etc.

    The answer is that we would have Christ alone. Wow! Isn’t He enough?

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