Worship is NOT a performance! (Shh...yes it is)

"Performance" in church is talked about like it should be bleeped.


"Worship is NOT a performance" says the person who is detecting fakeness in an entertainer acting like a worship leader.

"Worship is NOT a performance" says the elder when the electric guitar player gets too flashy (in alternate picking speed or facial contortion).

"Worship is NOT a performance" says the Priest Archetype when the Artist Archetype asks for more time to work on a section of the song.

"Worship is NOT a performance" says the Shepherd Archetype when the team member bristles at having to wait before starting to play at rehearsal.

Definition of performance
1 a : the execution of an action
   b : something accomplished : (deed, feat)
2 : the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request : (implementation)
3 a : the action of representing a character in a play
   b : a public presentation or exhibition
4 a : the ability to perform : (efficiency)

(granted, these top definitions from Merriam-Webster are less inflammatory than the ones on a google search, which start with "an act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment." Ew.)

You can perform the music without performing your priestly duties.

"It's just a show." Yes, just like 1 Peter 2:9 reads "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own; that you may show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." So it is a show, but it's not just a show.

I get the semantic tension that's created because of the many worship leaders and team members that just "play music for our great God" without intimacy, understanding, authority, or identity as a priest.

What’s my point?

Don’t hide behind “avoiding a shallow performance mentality” as an excuse for musical mediocrity.

Don’t hide behind “a great performance” just because you don’t quite get why we’re all together for a worship service.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that if the band did great, it doesn’t really matter what the congregation sounded like.

Don’t belittle someone for wanting to make great art in church, like “just worship” is somehow a higher virtue. (Michaelangelo thanks you)

Don’t judge a lovesick Jesus-follower because they don’t understand your art.

There is such value in both...avoid the ditches on both sides of the performance road.

- Dave