Life is complicated. You didn’t need me to tell you that in order to know it’s true. For all our efforts to simplify, purify, and distill, we often find ourselves adding more layers to a mess that is already sufficiently layered. Good intentions get muddled up in the execution. Idealism eventually hits the brick wall of reality and leaves us beat up and bruised—but give me the cuts and bruises, because a life without a few hope-filled convictions isn’t a life worth living.
One day, the sun is shining, and it seems as though that sunshine will never end. The very next day it's pouring down rain. One day, we are surrounded by friends and well-wishers; the next it’s an e-mail box overflowing with bitterness and pain—or even worse, a Facebook wall that’s been splattered with the dramatic, angry graffiti of passive aggressive status updates. The really great part is when you read it and wonder who that is about, only to realize that it’s about you! The most perplexing part is that often times the very things that we do to win favor with one group only alienates us from another. Complicated.
Then comes the big stuff: life and death. Babies are born, and it’s so good. Nine months of hope, wonder, and speculation come to fruition, and in our arms, we hold a son or daughter. As simple as the joy of holding your very own child for the first time is, the months and years that follow are anything but. Raising children is joyful and painful and frustrating. It’s complicated.
Even death isn’t simple. Most of us are not prepared for all the things, legal and otherwise, that death requires. Often times, there are emotions that we thought were buried, but in fact, they rise like zombies in the night of our sadness. Then there are the decisions – dozens of decisions must be made, all the while entertaining grief, a most unwelcome guest. Complicated.
Add to all this the dust layer of the daily grind, and it’s no wonder that we are truly a Prozac Nation. There are papers to write, dinners to fix, batteries to change, and jobs to find. There are ambitions to chase, marriages to enrich, and peers to compete with—even though they don’t know we are competing with them! Complicated.
It’s no wonder we are fractured. It’s no wonder we feel pulled. We literally dissolve.
This is why our gathered worship times are so important. That 30-minute worship set is often the most sane half-hour that the people in our church will experience in a whole week. It’s literally therapy. Better than a $200.00-per-hour therapy session. Here are three reasons why every pastor should support extended times of praise and worship:
One, it’s confessional. When we worship, we acknowledge that there is, in fact, a God in heaven. When we orient ourselves around this one, central truth—other good has room to grow.
Two, it’s communal. In a fractured world, there is power in what “we” can all sing.
Three, it’s formational. As fractured people, there is power in worshipping God—body, soul, and spirit. There is perhaps no other moment when “we” can be in such perfect harmony with ourselves.
This is why we sing. This is why we, the artists, must write. We are the poets for the brokenhearted. We are composers who, with the help of the Spirit, bring lyric, meter, and melody (order) to a complicated, fractured life. This is why pastors should love corporate worship.
Related Preaching Articles
By Ross Lester on Sep 9, 2017
Many people are intrigued but leery of using a preaching team approach. This article aims to provide some practical answers to the obstacles involved in the process.
By John Piper on Sep 8, 2017
"The forces of American culture are almost all designed to build the opposite worldview into our people’s minds. Maximize comfort, ease, and security. Avoid all choices that might bring discomfort, trouble, difficulty, pain, or suffering. Add this cultural force to our natural desire for immediate gratification and fleeting pleasures, and the combined power to undermine the superior satisfaction of the soul in the glory of God through suffering is huge."
By Lance Witt on Sep 15, 2017
"When it comes to our preaching, we live in the constant tension between pastor and prophet. On one hand, as pastors we want to encourage and care for the sheep. So, in our preaching we want to be uplifting and hopeful. On the other hand, as prophets we must sometimes say the hard things that the sheep don’t want to hear."