Texas Megachurch Turns Christmas Production Into Circus—Literally

HOUSTON — A megachurch in Texas recently turned its annual Christmas production in its worship center into a circus—literally, complete with a ringmaster, tricks and trapezes.

The Second Baptist Church of Texas, led by Dr. Ed Young, Sr., presented “Christmas Under the Big Top” at its Woodway campus from Friday to Tuesday, with tickets ranging from $10 to $25. The 90-minute drama centered on a storyline about a fictional effort to save a financially-struggling circus by putting on a Christmas show.

In addition to much singing and dancing, the program also featured a Stomp-like trash can drumming peformance, and plenty of circus tricks, from juggling to acrobatics to Cyr wheel spinning. Styles of music varied from traditional to big band, to hip-hop and rock. A segment of the production also included a living nativity, and a brief message about life’s “distractions” from the meaning of Christmas was delivered near the conclusion.

“The days of the traveling, family circus may be long gone, but don’t tell that to the Robichauxs,” a description of the storyline outlined on the Second Baptist website. “For four generations, they have captivated the hearts and minds of young and old alike with their high-flying antics and death-defying stunts. But times are changing, and the patriarch, Arthur Robichaux, must find a way to keep the circus alive in the midst of today’s ever-changing entertainment landscape.”

“At his wit’s end, Arthur considers throwing in the towel when his son, Max, surprises him by coming home for Christmas. Can Arthur and Max save their beloved family circus?” it asks.

Second Baptist also released a video promoting the event, inviting viewers to “[c]elebrate the true meaning of Christmas with us.” The video featured clips from previous performances, including fire-breathing and unicycling.

“For the past five years, Second Baptist Church has shared the story and joy of Christmas with over 100,000 people across Houston, featuring live music, dancing, aerobatics and so much more,” the announcer states. “Come be a part of this Houston holiday tradition as we celebrate the birth of Christ and take you on a new adventure.”

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Luke Benward of Disney’s “Good Luck Charlie” and “Girl Meets World” was one of the stars of the show, along with his father Aaron, known for being one-half of the 1990’s CCM duo Aaron Jeoffrey.

Many praised the presentation as being quality entertainment.

“It’s not quite Cirque du Soleil, but it’s way (way, way) bigger than any church show I’ve ever seen,” one blogger commented.

“This was truly a magical celebration with a beautiful message,” another said. “The show was full of non-stop entertainment from the musical numbers to the acrobats. I loved the drumline and the ariel dancers just took my breath away!”

However, others believe that such concepts are a far cry from the Church in Acts, and are a distraction from the core functions of the Church—even if outside of the normal service hours.

“‘Christmas Under the Big Top’ is another example of the Church focusing on entertainment rather than the purposes which our Lord established for His Church,” David Whitney, pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Pasadena, Maryland, told Christian News Network. “When Jesus said, ‘I will build My Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it,’ did He have a circus in mind?”

He said that the Church seems to have “lost its way on the road to the Heavenly City and instead has taken the side road to Hollywood,” noting that the command of Christ was to make disciples through preaching and teaching—not to amuse.

“The commission Christ gave His disciples was to go make disciples of all nations. That disciple-making task involves the preaching of the Word of God, administering the ordinances and conducting public worship,” Whitney explained. “When the Church loses this focus, it becomes simply one more entertainment venue vying for the time and treasure of an audience.”

“In 1 Corinthians 14:23 Paul asks the question regarding speaking in tongues, ‘What will the non-Christian think when he comes in our midst?’ I guess the answer in Houston is, they would think the Church is a circus,” he said.

Second Baptist Church did not respond to a request for comment.

(View the production here.)

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  • Is this the same church that last year had the muscular, shirtless drummers? Thoughtful of them to put baby Jesus in the skit there at the end. Glad they decided to include Him as an afterthought.

  • Leslie

    Dr Young has good sermons on Sunday. Why all the hate? Are Christians not supposed to put on entertainment that’s clean and family friendly. The church used to do all sorts of social events. Once a year is not a big deal to me. Can’t imagine they made a great deal of money at those prices, probably just paid for the act, if that.

    • Off Shore

      I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

    • jael2

      It doesn’t matter if the admission was free. God’s house is supposed to be a house of prayer; a sanctuary. But sadly, most have become a den of thieves. 🙁

  • Dianna Flowers

    Absolutely horrid….

  • “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Here we have a promise of foolishness, but it is unclear what will be preached. The world’s wisdom is that such circus performances are a valid and commercially viable advertising technique.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Too much entertainment is like drug addiction. Should humans always and only get entertained everywhere for-ever and ever? So abysmal and sad. Man should live to glorify God and worship Him, especially in church.

  • Nidalap

    They need Linus to get on that stage and tell them what Christmas is all about…

  • jael2

    Christ-mass is just reverting back to it’s original pagan roots of the Roman holiday Saturnalia. It doesn’t surprise me in the least ( as disgusting as it is) that a Roman circus would take center stage at a so called “church”.

  • Disciple of Jesus

    Many years ago, while I was working with young people a wise person once said to me, “whatever you use to draw them in .. you’ll have to keep using to keep them”.
    People it’s JESUS … Just JESUS!

    • Amos Moses

      and once it is gone … so will they be gone …………

    • Ken Faivor

      And more of it…..addictions/idols always grow.

    • Amen

  • greg SMITH

    Is it any wonder why most people today won’t darken the door of a church? It’s become a joke, devoid of relevance or truth. Meanwhile ISIS publishes a list of ones they’d like to blow up. I almost can’t blame them. Jesus will NOT be mocked.

  • Amos Moses

    Ed Young ….. no surprise ……….

  • Kevin Gaiser

    i do not condone circus antics to make profit for a church.

  • sammy13

    An invasion by secularists?

  • Emmanuel

    I wonder how many people gave their souls to Christ that night?

    • I’m guessing they were too busy selling cotton candy to worry about it.

      • Crusader777

        Nothing sold, nothing for sale. Hundreds saved during the week of the production.

  • Crusader777

    Sad the article did not mention the beautiful live nativity scene or the touching Christmas message given by Dr. Young. There are hundreds of people being saved and baptized in this ministry every week and it has numerous outreaches to help the community.
    Notice the author did not mention the “Angels of Light” where 2nd baptist fed and gifted over 8000 low income family members and provided live entertainment for them. All of their productions and plays are always centered on bringing people to Christ and I can say Dr. Ed Young in one of the finest men and pastors in the world today.
    Please pray for his wife JoBeth as she is in intensive care with serious health issues. Merry Christmas everyone, remember we are all on the same team so think twice about criticizing our brothers and sisters in Christ when the whole story is often not represented by the crooked media.

    • I will definitely lift JoBeth before the Lord. I pray the Lord’s will be done with her health & brings her a rapid healing. If He chooses not to heal her, may they grow in Him through this illness as their testimony will still glorify Him.

      Brother, I still believe that it’s wrong to glorify the world to bring in world. You’re correct. We’re all on the same team seeking the common goal of worshipping the Father as we make disciples & spread the Gospel. Be blessed & have a Merry Christmas.

      • Disciple of Jesus

        Crusader777 must be referring to Ed Young’s father and his wife. Young, Jr’s wife is Lisa. Since they both have the same name, I was confused.

        • OK. I’ll pray for the family. I’m sure it’s difficult on them all.