Jonathan Blake – Pana, IL
I believe that occasionally it does get to be too much, but I have personally rarely seen that. In my experience, it is more often a compliment to a service, than a distraction. Whether we like it or not, we are a visual society. If we are going to capture attention initially, we have to be aware of that. Although, there is no substitute for the genuine move of God, which has nothing to do with media, staging, or anything else. The danger is neglecting what is really important in favor of just the visual. It does no good to go through all of the trouble, effort, and expense of concentrating on these production elements if we neglect the spiritual side of worshipping and the preparation for the move of God.
Bryan Ballestero – Raleigh, NC
With every generation, there are new elements that help in our method. Technology has, obviously, greatly increased. We are looking to grow and to improve, but it must never get to the place where it takes away from the Spirit of God. Have some leaned too much on effects? Absolutely. But on the other side of it, I think we can incorporate these things into our church and it can be powerful for the new generation. There is a different culture in each congregation, and some are more or less comfortable with these things. We can use it to our advantage, but at the end of the day, it has to be saturated in prayer, anointing, and the outpouring of God’s Spirit.
Justin Anthony – Bellevue, NE
It only has been given too much emphasis if the efforts in that area supersede the efforts in prayer, fasting, and the Word. These elements set the proper atmosphere and sound level, as well as create attractiveness. Can these things be overdone? Yes. Can they be underdone? Yes. Does the Spirit of God depend on these production elements? No. The technology is neither holy nor unholy; it is about people. I try to measure the point at which we begin to rely on these things. I believe a lot of the weight of the spiritual temperature of the church has much to do with the pastor’s leadership.
Andrew Romine – O’Fallon, IL
In some places, they have gone too far, and in other settings, they have not gone far enough. We are not in the entertainment business, but those things can be helpful in facilitating the purpose of the church service. For instance, when you are preaching, you use a microphone so you can hear the preacher. Also, screens have been massively beneficial in helping people to know lyrics and allow them to have their heads up. Currently, with many churches being on a live stream, production lighting is going to bring illumination that further enables communication. These things are best when people can walk into a service and almost not even notice them. My principle question is: when is this going to be an asset to us? Or, is this a distraction?
Duane Bolinger – Des Moines, IA
The answer is probably “yes” and “no.” They are great to enhance what we have, but at the same time, churches have the tendency to rely on that. I do believe technology can help to set a worshipful atmosphere, and I think there is Scripture to back that up. In the Old Testament Tabernacle, there were many things that were meant to create an atmosphere for priests to worship. I do believe in using these production elements to an extent, but I believe that we also have to rely heavily on the anointing and moving of the Holy Ghost. The danger is when we put more emphasis on the surroundings than the One we are worshipping.
Shane Britt – Hartselle, AL
I think quality lights, stage design, etc. enhance the experience of excellence. It also gives a great feel for those watching online and increases the quality of your live streams so you can minister in an effective way. In this modern society, I do believe the church should try to remain relevant in that area without compromising our worship, our identity, and the flow of the Spirit. I believe this COVID-19 crisis has made us think outside of the box. I may pastor people who never attend my church, and I want to make that experience the best I can. But the bottom line is: when anything in the church distracts a worshipper or keeps someone from responding to the Word of God, it becomes excessive and dangerous.
Bryan Spooner – Flint, MI
I believe the Apostolic church has a pretty good hold on staying balanced, and I have not noticed these things to be too widespread. I am not against such things that may occasionally be used to briefly grab the attention of the crowd, but if worship looks or feels like a “production,” it lends itself to a performance environment, and I am completely resistant to that. I think it is difficult to call this black-and-white because demographics have a lot to do with even the specific things we preach. Of course, I am not speaking about doctrine, holiness, or so on, but how you relate to the congregation. For instance, the attention spans of young people are very short. Some things change with demographics; however, we must ensure that Jesus is the main focus of our worship services, and I lean on God for discernment in areas where direction is needed, such as this particular area.
Rick Schellhardt – Paducah, KY
There may not be a straightforward answer to that. I do try to incorporate worship elements and tools if they add, but I would also say wisdom has to be used because everything needs balance. I heard of a quote from Charles Spurgeon, and he said, “Discernment is not just seeing right from wrong; discernment is seeing right from almost right.” Worship sounds noble, but my concern would be only getting it ‘almost right’. We can get our worship services wrong if we lose sight that worship is for God. While I am not inherently against any of these tools, we can take anything too far. We can create an atmosphere where suddenly worship becomes about us, how we feel, and if it did not feel professional enough, then we were somehow not in the presence of God. So if we use any tool, we must ensure it does not get out of place and become about us.