Worship Matters NOVEMBER ~ 2021
Thank you for the notes and words of encouragement that have been sent my way over the last month. These certainly do provide “courage” to carry on!
Recently, I heard an interesting story on a ministry podcast. A woman from the deep American South related that as a child, her grandmother and all of her friends would wear ornate hats to church. They would stick an abundance of bobby pins into those hats, because when the music began to really get going, they didn’t want the hats to come off. The secret was that these grandmothers did not comb their hair under those giant, fancy hats. The lesson? Growing up in the church, she learned that as long as you were looking good on the outside, it didn’t matter what was happening on the inside.
This type of Christian perfectionism probably resonates with most of us who have grown up in the church. We learn that as long as we personally, and our family by extension, are looking good and behaving well, we will be accepted and even applauded by others. Sadly, however, this kind of outward strength that hides inward pain can be like a rotten tree that suddenly falls in a wind or a storm. For years, perhaps, the tree graced a front yard or a lane, not revealing the rot within until it is too late. The truth is that we all have “rot within”; we all struggle with pain, confusion, doubt, and our old nature. When we create a church culture that celebrates performance, commends perfectionism and rewards compliance, we are laying a foundation that is bound to crack and crumble.
People are craving authenticity in church contexts that encourages freedom to be vulnerable, broken, and admit pain and weakness. Though we know this, it becomes difficult in a consumer culture. Consumers want what looks and sounds the best, and they want to feel they are getting high value for what they have paid for. This is the way the world works, but it should not be the way the church works. The church is not a shop window at Christmas, decorated with lights and wonderful, sparkling things. Instead, it is a smelly manger and trampled straw, a shepherd woken from the hard cold ground, the sweat of crowded believers singing softly in a darkened Roman home. This is real life, not a performance. The church is the Bride of Christ, not a social club.
In worship and music ministry, realness can be a big challenge. It is nearly impossible to be vulnerable yet not distracting, genuine and yet follow the musical cues. Our worship leaders prepare with great care, humility, and a reliance on the Holy Spirit to bring songs, scripture and prayer that will provide a time to truly worship in the midst of our struggles and imperfections. At PTC, let us work toward a culture of accepting people, and ourselves, as we truly are.
Pam Graham, Worship Coordinator
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17