Lights, Camera, Action

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!

20 thoughts on “Lights, Camera, Action

  1. I believe a revival would happen if Christians would be authentic and focus first and foremost on humbly and prayerfully building a relationship with Jesus. What a sight that would be! How earth altering if we actually lived how Jesus lived and said to live.Truth!😄❤

  2. The desire for “neatness” in churches and in worship have put up a wall to what church and worship should be about–a place for messy, broken people to safely share their brokenness and messes so that our loving God can make them whole again. Thanks for revealing your scars, yet again!

  3. Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:
    My Featured Blogger this week is Matthew Winters of Honest Thoughts From a Pastor. Matthew is a warts-and-all guy. He’s still young but, true to his blog’s title, he honestly addresses his own failings and restoration. Here and elsewhere he bluntly but compassionately talks about life-changing faith vs. playing church in the midst of personal disintegration.

    But Matthew isn’t a one-theme guy. He also speaks with humor and enthusiasm on a wide range of other topics, music holding a particularly special place in his heart. Bottom Line:

    It’s always good to read Honest Thoughts From a Pastor.

  4. Thank you Matthew for telling it like it is. Mitch Teemly sent me your way and I am indebted. Following you and hope to get to know you better. Grace and blessings!

  5. This is good. And honestly it’s the first step to what I feel needs to be a total overhaul of “church” as we know it. We all need a place of true community and, sorry, church is not it. I’m glad people are starting to realize this. Thanks for sharing your story.

  6. I was part of a worship team and I am telling you there are things that go on the congregation has no clue about. There were times I was pressured by my leaders to do what they wanted me to do not what God had intended me to do. But one day our equipment wasn’t working because something went wrong with the sound board. We took wooden drums sang without microphones and only used one acoustic guitar. Although the people did not like it those services brought us together as a band in a real way. Best worship service we ever did! God is truly enough.

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