When I take my posts about what being a pastor means to me and churchianity and look at them together, I’m motivated to look toward what it is that I’d hope to see. So much of what Jesus brought into the world has been hijacked or dumbed down for the sake of what happens for an hour or two on Sunday mornings. I’m not saying Sunday mornings are dumb. But I am saying that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection had little, if anything, to do with a Divine desire for groups of people to come together for a few hours on Sunday mornings.
Believe me, the time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem [places religiously designated for worship]. … The time is coming—and is here!—when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth. The Father looks for those who worship him this way. God is spirit, and it is necessary to worship God in spirit and truth.
– Jesus, John 4.21,23/24
I’ve talked with so many Christians who have such a hard time centering on Christ without the aid of music and I can’t help but question; if we can’t do it without music, what makes you think it’s what we’re doing with music? Could you really just be centering on emotion? I am not saying you are or are not, but I am asking the question.
My criticism is birthed out of having been a “worship leader” for many years. It is a very personal criticism of myself. When that personal criticism reached a breaking point, I locked myself in a tiny unmarked room in a basement and turned off the lights. What I found in there was silence and presence. I found a greater fulfillment, which Jesus points to when he said, “When you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.” Churchianity taught me to worship as a statement to others, but Christ teaches me to have a secret.
This is why taking personal retreats has become such a value for me. These are times when I remove so many things that make me comfortable and outwardly focused so that I might focus simply on Christ’s presence within and without me. My goal is always to find the edges of my comfort-zone with awareness of Christ and push it as far as I’m able. That’s what the retreat near Santa Cruz next weekend (January 23-25) is all about and you’re invited to join. For more information, click here.
Jesus describes and models such a personal, secret, intimate, and dependent relationship with God first. And then a public expression that follows. But Churchianity has reversed this. My hope is that we will individually correct it and then find churches following. I hope we will literally shut doors, be silent, in secret, and throw down the crutches of music and programs to begin more fully walking with Christ individually and then collectively.