Fixating on What’s Important: Salvation By (Fire)Works…

photo of fireworks display

By Bill Fix

A large church in Knoxville hosted its annual “boom bash” yesterday, advertised as its “family event of the year.” The attraction included the following:  free food, family carnival fun zone, music, classic car cruise-in, and a firework show. Hey, I enjoy fun as much as the next person, but it seems like something is missing here…

I didn’t even know about this event until I saw someone ask about the firework show in a community post on Facebook. Amidst the answers naming the organization, one person commented, “They feed folks, have fun entertainment for children, and a beautiful firework show. It’s a great way to show stewardship in my opinion” (emphasis added).

To what lengths should a church go to attract people? I’ve read the book of Acts a few times, and I don’t recall reading where Peter, John, or Paul ever tried to draw a crowd with fireworks, classic cars, carnival games, or free food. The approach for many religious groups today appears to be one of luring people in with some type of entertainment or a meal, and while they’re present, let’s throw some informal preaching at them. Is there something wrong with the gospel 2,000 years later? Is that not enough of a draw on its own?

When Paul traveled from city to city, he first went wherever he could find spiritually minded people to teach. This was often in a synagogue (Acts 13:5, 14; 14:1; 17;1-2), but he also found a “prayer meeting” by the riverside in Philippi (Acts 16:13) and an audience at the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17:17-19). His sole purpose was teaching people the truth and trying to save souls. He was not concerned with entertainment.

Diluting the work of the church is not “a great way to show stewardship” —it’s the exact opposite. Let the county fairs organize carnivals, and let local governments or civic organizations shoot fireworks. The church must “make disciples” (Mt. 28:19), and if the church doesn’t, who will? “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Mt. 7:21-23).

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