The countdown begins. The band begins to play. A worship team skillfully sings the latest and greatest worship songs while those in the back flash lights and cue the smoke at just the right time. A prayer is said. The pastor gets up to give a well-rehearsed message. A closing song is sung. The service concludes with the awesome band rocking out once again.
I have laid out a scenario of what many worship services look like. But what is really going on? Could it be that these polished performers may be falling apart behind the scenes? Could it be that the lead guitarist is struggling with an addiction to pornography and is afraid to share his struggle because he does not really feel like his church and those in his life form a safe community? Could it be that one of the worship team singers is giving herself away to a guy, thinking he really loves her? She sings about the love of God while she is the object of some guy’s hormonal lust. Could it be that the pastor who is always smiling and delivering an awesome message week after week is falling apart off stage? His marriage is in shambles, but he’s afraid he will lose it all if anyone knows the truth.
This scenario, although somewhat fictitious, is all too common. People get up to publicly minister each week while their private lives lack intimacy with God and fellow believers. Because of a lack of authenticity, it becomes nothing more than a mere show by talented yet heartless performers. These people could win awards for acting, yet they fail to realize the power of removing the mask and connecting with other broken people. It’s messy, but it works.
Why can I say this with such authority? Because that was me in 2013. I was the Senior Pastor. People were looking to me to deliver a word from God three times per week plus give leadership to the church. My marriage was hanging on by a thread, and I was at an all-time low. Plans were already in the works for a divorce, and I was trying to figure out where to go and what to do. I continued to pastor the church for a month and a half after this.
I’ll never forget one particular Sunday. I was emotionally spent. I could not get a word from God, yet I showed up Sunday morning and was expecting a miracle. I sat on the front row and only had a few scattered thoughts. Those scattered thoughts became a message I preach most everywhere God opens the door for me to preach. Only a handful in that room had a clue of my struggle. I reached out to a few that I felt were safe, but my broken heart had skewed my judgment.
We desperately need to build a bridge from real life to the church stage. People are facing divorce, sickness, sexual struggles, abuse, financial ruin, depression, etc. They don’t care how many hours you put in to create the perfect Sunday show. They want to see real people with real struggles who can give them a genuine word from the Lord. When you remove the lights, smoke, and sound effects, you will find that Jesus is enough! He always has been, and He always will be!