A worshiping pastor

Below is something a church planting friend of mine wrote. I’m convicted and encouraged by it.
David
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Eugene Peterson writing on the state of the American church when he planted in the 60’s says, “By the time I arrived on the scene as a pastor, the American church had reinterpreted the worship of God as an activity for religious consumers. Entertainment, cheerleading, and manipulation were conspicuous in high places. American worship was conceived as a public relations campaign for Jesus and the angels. Worship had been cheapened into a commodity marketed by using tried-and-true advertising techniques. If so-called worshippers didn’t ‘get anything out of it’, there had been no worship worth coming back for. Instead of calling people to worship God, pastors all over the country were inviting people to ‘have a worship experience.’ Worship was evaluated on the ‘consumer satisfaction scale’ of one to ten.”
And we wonder why worship has faded. Jesus is irrelevant to so many in our culture because we, the professing church, have made him so. We have bastardize worship for the exhilaration of numbers. We pastors have cared more about our egos being stroked than planting the gospel deep in our hearts and minds and thereby planting a culture where Jesus is truly preeminent and the right worship of him is a splendid mixture of creeds and confessions with deeds and loving our neighbors. We settle, we peddle, we lust for our own fame, we look for approval in the accommodation of others all the while forgetting that all the approval we will ever need has already been given. We are made in the image of God. We have been ransomed by Jesus. We have been called to lead and shepherd people in spite of our own brokenness. What more do we need?
Peterson presents us with a differing experience. It was a painful one and it took years to develop but this is what happened with the congregation he pastored, “A way of worship that was non manipulative. A way of community that was non programmatic. One of the things I relished about being a pastor was being immersed in the ambiguities, the NOT being in control that allowed for the slow emergence of insights and resolve that developed into confessions of faith, and the unplanned, spontaneous attentiveness to ‘one another’ that over the years became a culture of hospitality.”
The people of God living like the people of God should give the most compelling reason for people to question the reality of God. What we have produced, God help us, is just the opposite. We have produced a version of the church that gives the greater culture around us every reason to relegate God to the irrelevant all the while fulfilling Nietzsche’s prophecy that “God is dead.” But there is still hope. I think it has to start with pastors who are bold in our repentance and who are willing to call the people of God to live out who they truly are even if it means we don’t see the numbers we so desperately think we need to validate our calling and message.
By Ernie Banks, Savannah Georgia

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