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Jesus is Enough, I Promise

December 12, 2016

Warning: For some, this may seem like I am turning into a grumpy, old man. You may be right. But then again, it may be me who is right. Enjoy.

Last Monday my oldest son and I scurried down the road to Dallas, Texas to watch our first ever NBA game—the Mavericks versus the Charlotte Hornets. The game was a birthday present to my son who loves all things sports.

We checked into our hotel, just a mile from American Airlines Arena, dropped our bags in our room and headed out the door to the game. After paying $25 to park in a garage, we jogged across the street with about 50 other excited and anxious basketball fans who arrived as early as possible. Entering the arena and receiving our free bobble head doll, we were told that our seats are on the complete opposite side of the arena. So we took off, making our way around the long hallway that circles the arena. I was surprised as we walked past luxurious lounges and dining services. This was a step up from the Barton Coliseum in Little Rock I grew up with. We finally made it to our cushioned seats, and were greeted by an usher/waitress. She was there to take our order and bring our nachos, chicken fingers, hamburgers, and drinks directly to us, all for a bargain deal (and by bargain I mean a day’s wage).

My attention was engaged the moment we sat down with all of the video screens and moving lights before the game got started. My son just sat there trying to take mental snapshots of all that was before him.

Finally it was tip-off. Time to focus on the game. But a strange thing took place. Or continued rather. The lights never stopped flashing and moving. The PA announcer kept talking, even while the game was going on. The videos kept rolling. If there was a time-out, we were sure to be entertained, or offended, by the dancers who pranced out to the floor, or by the mascots shooting the t-shirt cannon.

I have been to plenty of MLB games. And yes, the organ player plays catchy little riffs to get the fans into the game. And at minor league games, there are games and slingshots to keep the fans engaged. However, while the game was actually in action, the organ player had his fingers in his popcorn, not on the keys, nor was there any incitement by the big man with the microphone.

And then it dawned on me. The basketball game isn’t enough for the modern day fan. They no longer enjoy the poetry in motion on the hardwood (and I admit that part of the problem is that the poetry has died a little). They cannot stay engaged on their own with what is actually taking place on the court. The lights, the videos, the constant “Let’s Go Mavs!” chant by the announcer is now part of the game itself because the game itself is not enough for today’s basketball fans. A well-designed pick and roll, extra pass, or backdoor cut is not enough.

This mentality can seep into our churches, crowding out the beauty and sufficiency of Jesus.

The mentality says that we need to give people more than scripture, more than biblical community, more than worship, more than Jesus. Jesus isn’t enough to captivate them or keep them engaged, so we need to add something extra to the mix.

Don’t confuse the parallel. I am not saying that lights and videos are bad. They are neutral. A church that does not utilize them at all can get caught up in distraction just as much as the church with spotlights and pyro. At the same time, a church can utilize technology to zero in focus on Jesus, just like a church without the technology can do the same.

You see, it is not about the technology at all. The issue is what question do you want people asking as they leave your campus: “How awesome was that show?” OR “How incredible is Jesus?”

As we left the Mav’s game last Monday night, my son wanted to come again the following night to see another show…er, I mean game. Not me. I had a headache from all the flashing, disco ball lights.

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