We called it the Classic Concert Company, but soon changed it to Ringling Brothers Comedy Concert Company. Even that early, we discovered that there is something in a name, and that the public’s chief desire is to be amused rather than uplifted…
Our appeal is to the elemental instinct, to the child that is in every man. What they call the “lure of the circus” is merely the great unexpressed yearning of every human being to be young again.
[John Ringling of the Ringling Brothers Circus, Memoirs. (The World’s Greatest Showmen, produced by WPT & the Wisconsin Historical Society, ’42 & ’51, 2006)].
The Ringling Brothers were entertainers and businessmen. As businessmen they gave their customers what they wanted: amusements, and as a result, their business slowly changed from giving uplifting musical concerts into a comedy troupe and then finally a circus. The Ringling Brothers did try to stay true to their Classic Concert Company roots, and became known as the “Sunday School Show,” but they were still a circus. (Ibid. ’59).
There is nothing wrong with circuses or amusements, unless your “business” is essentially to uplift and mature. For example, the Church has been called by God to uplift and grow people spiritually. As St. Paul says,
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. [Hebrews 5:13-14].
Circuses and amusements are good if they are kept in their place, but all of life is not a circus. If the church starts acting like an entertainment business by giving unchurched customers what they want, then the church also will slowly change from being a place of uplifting service into a circus.