Intrigued by Anchorage Baptist Temple’s TV advertisement for a performance by an illusionist, I attended their 11 a.m. service on March 15 to see how this related to ABT’s Christian mission. The illusionist, Brock Gill, was introduced by Dr. Prevo after some artful deception on Gill’s part, masquerading as a choir member. Gill proceeded to solicit keys from six audience members. Placing the keys in his hand, he had the six adience members cover his hand with theirs. After they removed their hands, he unclenched his fist, revealing the keys had been bent. He further demonstrated the bending of a single key on camera. The audience was advised they would have to come to the 6 p.m. service to see the rest of the story. I didn’t bite, and frankly, I left puzzled.
While Prevo delivered a fine sermon relating to the theme of death, a repetitious theme at ABT, I left with mixed feelings. Has the preaching of the gospel at churches such as this deteriorated to the point where entertainment must be used to snare people in to come to services? A brief survey of the internet reveals a plethora of “Christian entertainers” who specialize as drawing cards. Magicians, musicians of every stripe, illusionists, story tellers, puppeteers, dancers, dramatists, comedians, etc. are being used to draw people into churches, much in the same way that medicine shows of the past used similar entertainers to bring people to the sellers of medicines of dubious value. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d be interested in hearing from fellow Christians who might help me understand what this was all about. Even Brock Gill’s wife, writing on his website, made great fun of his “trick” of masquerading as a choir member at ABT during his Alaska trip. Hmmmmm……..