Four Wrong Turns On The Road To Performancism

1The evangelical church is at a worship crossroads.

A generation of older, baby-boomer, not-so-hipster worship leaders are in the last decade or two of their full-time ministry. And a new generation of younger, Generation X, youthfully vigorous worship leaders have taken (or are about to take) the wheel. They are determining the trajectory of worship in music all around the world and will be at the helm for the next 20-30 years.

As a card-carrying member of this generation, I say that we have some very important decisions to make. Can this trend towards performancism be reversed? Can we spend “our turn” stewarding our ministries in such a way that orients the worship of the church more strongly towards the glory of God in Jesus Christ and away from the performance of the people on stage?

It’s important to know the wrong turns that have led much of the evangelical worship world to where it is today: embracing a trend of performancism in worship.

Wrong turn # 1: Away from substance
The message really does matter. The means matter, but when the means become the message, or obscure the message, and when this is OK with us, we have lost our bearings. Sadly, too many in the evangelical worship world have lost their bearings, and the style is predominant, while the substance is subordinate. Our message is the gospel. The good news of Jesus Christ. The only hope for the world.

In our different contexts, we can and should use any musical means we can to exalt him. But it must always be about exalting him. Is the message crystal clear? Let’s not settle for obscurity. We must ensure that Jesus (the substance) is always front and center, and the music (the style) is always pointing to, magnifying, proclaiming, exalting, and celebrating him. We can’t turn away from this.

Wrong turn # 2: Away from congregational singing
One of the most stunning descriptions of worship in heaven comes in Revelation 5:11-13 when John says that he “looked, and… heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’ And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!‘”

Not only is the substance of the worship in heaven crystal clear, but the sound of countless voices worshipping “him who sits on the throne and… the Lamb” together is crystal clear as well. How about in our churches?

Worship leaders: we are tragically losing our priority for congregational singing, under the guise of offering people an “experience”. What people need to experience during corporate worship is the corporate praising of Jesus. There is no greater experience to offer people than to stand among others who are lifting their hearts and voices in praise. As wonderful as good effects, art, lighting, arrangements, videos, buildings, liturgy, and pipe organs are, they pale in comparison to the sound of human voices lifted together in worship of God. A worship leader who doesn’t cultivate a singing congregation over time isn’t fulfilling the number one most important part of his job.

If we continue to settle for offering people worship “experiences” and settling for lackluster or even non-existent singing, we are setting evangelical worship on a sure course towards a crash into a wall of flashy, unsatisfying performances. We must lead with a invitational, pastoral heart to draw others in to singing praise with all of heaven. The best kind of “congregational experience” is congregational singing.

Wrong turn # 3: Away from the gospel
I’ve sat through entire church services, listened to entire worship albums, and attended entire conference sessions where the gospel is assumed, not proclaimed, as if everyone in the room has heard the gospel before, has that box checked, and except for when it pops up in a popular song, we don’t really need to emphasize that whole gospel thing very much.

Practically, the gospel assumed is the gospel omitted. Worship leaders, we have a responsibility to our congregations to ensure the centrality of the gospel in our worship services.

It’s Jesus’ “streams of mercy, never ceasing” that “call for songs of loudest praise”. It’s Jesus alone who makes a way for us to “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16). Christ-centered worship isn’t just a trendy new worship catchphrase. It’s our reality. And we can either choose to center our worship around the good news of Jesus Christ, or we can choose not to. Something will be at the center. What will that “something” be?

When the core is compromised, all the branches are compromised. The core must be the gospel. Must. Must. Must.

Wrong turn # 4: Towards the performers
When you’ve lost your substance, when no one is singing along, and when you’re not centered around the gospel, you gravitate towards hiring/elevating a performer as your worship leader, making him into a mini-celebrity, maybe putting his face on the big screen, and hoping he gets your congregation to worship.  The performer/celebrity worship leader phenomenon is troubling and dysfunctional, but it’s a symptom of much deeper problems, and previous “wrong turns” that led to this place.

And this is what has now bubbled up to the surface. Performancism, which requires performers to perpetuate Sunday morning worship performances. But under the surface are deeper issues, and significant wrong turns. We need to commit to addressing the underlying issues, and then we’ll begin to see a change above the surface.

Final thoughts
Lest any of what I’ve written be construed as exclusively relevant to contemporary churches with drums and guitars, let me say loud and clear that formal, high-church, liturgical churches with organs and choirs are just as prone to performancism. The performance of an organist, the offerings of a choir, the recitation of a liturgy, the sacred movements of the clergy and acolytes can all become the same kind of performance prevalent in the mega-church down the street. The choir directors, organists, accompanists, and worship leaders at those churches have just as much reason to step back and evaluate their ministries as the guy with a guitar at a church whose liturgy is pretty much “songs then sermon”.

This crossroads is before all of us, formal and informal, liturgical and non-liturgical, mega or small.

We can go down the road towards performancism and find ourselves with congregations who come to observe the actions of the select few on the platform, hearing words and seeing sights that have little lasting impact on their life, with worship leaders building their little worship kingdoms.

Or we can experience another reformation, and cultivate congregations eager to exalt Christ, engaged with God as they draw near to him together, with hearts fixed on him, all the while being served by musicians whose passion is to see the Church gathering and celebrating the good news of the gospel, encountering a living God through his living Word, in the power of his Holy Spirit.

I want to spend my years stewarding that worship reformation wherever I am. 30 years from now I want to hand off to the next generation a worship ministry with an unmistakable trajectory towards Jesus, for Jesus, through Jesus, about Jesus, and in Jesus.

How about you?

41 thoughts on “Four Wrong Turns On The Road To Performancism

  1. Michael Druckenmiller Sr. May 26, 2014 / 8:47 am

    Jamie is so right on here…

    A> Jamie: Wrong turn # 1: Away from substance. Me: I visited a church recently where the pastor lamented that most people’s theology is coming more from the music they listen to and less from studying the Bible. An unfortunately true statement. Many in my generation were raised on Petra, and a lot of Petra’s lyrics mirrored my own understanding of scripture. I *wish*, fervently wish, I could say the same today. And, no it’s no saying the same thing a different way, I’m not dead yet!

    B> Jamie: If we continue to settle for offering people worship “experiences” and settling for lackluster or even non-existent singing, we are setting evangelical worship on a sure course towards a crash into a wall of flashy, unsatisfying performances. Me: Graham Truscott wrote a book titled Power in His Presence, which may be, very unintentionally, to blame for the current seeking of ‘Experiences’. Something as a Pentecostal I am well familiar with.  If the ‘Experience’ isn’t with and in Jesus it can only be hollow. The unison Worship of JESUS can release Great Power.

    C> Jamie: Practically, the gospel assumed is the gospel omitted. Worship leaders, we have a responsibility to our congregations to ensure the centrality of the gospel in our worship services. Me: I do not know of a truer statement. Period. I will say this again… People were created to Worship. When they worship they naturally feel good about themselves. If there is not a clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and their need for Him… They leave twice as damned. For they don’t have Jesus. And, second they think they are OK Because they have been a part of a Worship Experience.

    D> Jamie: When the core is compromised, all the branches are compromised. The core must be the gospel. Must. Must. Must. Me: Can the root rot be stanched in a timely manner? Only if you can answer Jesus’ question in the affirmative. And, I am no longer sure we can. Luk_18:8 I tell you, He will defend and protect and avenge them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [persistence in] faith on the earth? [Amp]

  2. bonadams May 26, 2014 / 10:53 am

    This nails my complaints except the problem with volume. The guy on the sound board must listen for the congregational voice then mix the worship team accordingly. My opinion.

    Thank you for an excellent article Jamie.

    • YY May 27, 2014 / 4:47 pm

      Partially true, if the band is in a huge part of the song with the full band in full, depending on the room and acoustics it simply may not be possible bring the band down enough to amplify the audience so to speak. I think it works in harmony with the worship leader being attentive to the spirit and the volume of the congregation. I train our volunteers to listen for those spots and throttle up the audience whenever it possible while leaving a little of the leader to prompt and such.

  3. Anthony Pero May 26, 2014 / 2:47 pm

    So I’ve been trying to get my head around exactly what you mean when you say “performancism”. Where is the line? On my comment on a previous thread, I sort of stated where I thought it was, but for the sake of better understanding what you are trying to say, I was wondering if you could define what you mean more clearly? Is it determined by what’s going on in the heart of the worship team member/leader? Is it a performance when the congregation watches instead of participates, regardless of what the heart and the intentions of the worship leader/team are?

    Obviously these are two very separate dynamics that, while both being a problem, are not the same problem, and may not require the same solution. Or is it something I haven’t considered yet while reading your blog?

    • Jamie Brown May 26, 2014 / 10:26 pm

      Hi Anthony,

      A very simple (probably overly) definition would be… Performancism: Performing songs in front of a congregation in a way that leads the congregation to focus on the performance and the performers. Symptoms include: disengaged congregations, weakened singing, an obscured proclamation of the gospel, and an aura of celebrity surrounding those on stage.

      Jamie

      • Anthony Pero May 27, 2014 / 8:44 am

        So, is this an issue of the heart or of execution?

        I have been in situations where every technique you have described in your previous articles is in use (lots of colored stage lighting, smoke, lights down low in the congregation), yet the congregation is engaged, participatory, people grow in the Lord, the gospel is proclaimed strongly, and people don’t SEEM to view the worship team as celebrities. I have also been in worship services where these things were going on and there was a LARGE disconnect between the worship team and the congregation. To be fair, I have also been in worship services where the lights were on full in the congregation, the music was quiet, but well mixed, the leader was off to the side hidden behind the piano, and there was only lighting enough to see by, with no “effect” lighting… and the disconnect was just as strong.

        So, are these techniques inherently wrong in a worship setting, or only when they lead to the symptoms you describe above? Is technique really the culprit? Or education on what worship is the culprit?

        You seem to be of the opinion that these techniques lead to a disconnect with the congregation and lack of participation. Yet I’ve been to many, many concerts, both Christian and secular, that were far more participatory than almost any church service I’ve been to. While the purpose of these concerts differs from the purpose of a church service, the techniques employed will not automatically lead to what you describe, as these examples demonstrate.

        It seems to me that the makeup of a congregation has far more to do with determining the effectiveness of a style of technique in worship than the technique itself does, when there is no moral or biblical issue in play.

      • Anthony Pero May 27, 2014 / 9:37 am

        I should have preceeded both of these comments with this: For the most part, I think you are spot-on, especially in this particular article. I just have hesitation with some of it, because it puts the emphasis (in my mind) for fixing the problem on changing technique. Changing technique will never fix a heart problem.

    • JimErin Bossler May 27, 2014 / 9:58 am

      Anthony, I don’t see where the author is talking about technique. He’s identifying symptoms of a what he proposes is a problem. I think rather than pull commentary about technique out of his opinion, one can instead agree or disagree with his original premise. Though I

      You’re right though, I’ve seen both musical settings succeed and fail. Is the gospel preached through the music? If not, even if a congregation sings, we (worship leaders) will have to answer to the Almighty on what our congregation knows about His nature and character… that’s not just on the teaching pastor. We will need to answer Him about our substance and observing biblical patterns (i.e. Psalm 96) in our liturgy.

      • Anthony Pero May 27, 2014 / 10:48 am

        This article is far less about technique, I’m more continuing the conversation from the previous three articles. The use of lights, iMag projection, etc, is all technique.

  4. David S. May 26, 2014 / 2:51 pm

    I definitely agree about the point of “celebrities.” Ha. However my own experiences have been that the biggest celebrities — by far — are the pastors and various “guest ministers”. They are 100x bigger celebrities than the worship leader. Just my opinion.

    Oh, by the way, is it OK to show the pastor’s face on the “big screen” when he’s preaching? Or should the screen be used only for displaying the Bible passage which is being discussed? What to you think?

  5. Janice May 26, 2014 / 11:08 pm

    Good points. I have been struggling with the same feelings for awhile now. I think the music worship problem is a symptom of a bigger problem…here are some of my thoughts if you care to read. Thanks for your post. I have seen three on the same topic just this week. It is disturbing… http://wp.me/p37fqB-Bl

  6. Raisa Wilfong May 26, 2014 / 11:58 pm

    Excellent article. If this was written thirty years ago, it would have been just as timely as it is today.

  7. GKGebel May 27, 2014 / 9:05 am

    One more thought to this excellent article….the mere existence of “worship leaders” is the fundamental problem here, do you not see it? Sure it is helpful to have someone lead the tempo and so forth but a “worship leader” is the underlying problem, that naturally lends itself to this performancism. If you wish to kill the disease you have to go to the root problem. Not a popular thing to say, but food for thought. Thanks for the article.

    • thomptim May 27, 2014 / 12:01 pm

      GKGebel I agree! If we were to look at Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 14:26 on, how does having a worship leader allow for the saints to mutually edify? Instead of each one coming with a song, often times one person is responsible for providing all of the songs. The advantage to this is that we do keep things more in order, but at what cost?

      • Anthony Pero May 27, 2014 / 12:15 pm

        It would be impossible to have modern music without a “worship leader” or at least a “band” leader, however you want to describe it. I’m all for having that conversation, but lets have it openly.

        By modern, I don’t mean the songs, but the style. You could certainly sing songs without the band, or a piano player, leading. You could sing it acapella, some churches do that.

        My father in law is a deacon at a church that does what you suggest, and they congregation randomly throws out hymns or choruses they want to sing, and the piano player and organist play it while my father in law “conducts” the congregation. It is no less showy than anything else. He talks different, waves his arms different than he ever would in any other setting. He’s aware that people are watching him, and tries to lead accordingly.

  8. B.J. Collins May 27, 2014 / 10:10 am

    I read this article recently, and here is the crux of the matter:
    “What people need to experience during corporate worship is the corporate praising of Jesus. There is no greater experience to offer people than to stand among others who are lifting their hearts and voices in praise. As wonderful as good effects, art, lighting, arrangements, videos, buildings, liturgy, and pipe organs are, they pale in comparison to the sound of human voices lifted together in worship of God.”

    This is where song selection is so important. Songs have to be worshipful, and intuitive. They have to be easily learned by people who are not musicians, and they have to be repeated with regularity so that the congregation not only learns the song, but also embraces the song and looks forward to singing it again because they are comfortable and confident singing it. Too many church musicians are “getting bored” with what they are playing and moving along with the latest songs they hear on the radio, not really taking into consideration what is best for the worship life of the congregation.

    I try to select songs based on how people respond to them, and whether or not I think they are intuitive and easy to learn. That’s where the kids are missing the boat – they get caught up in the trend and never get to find out the joy that comes from leading the much-loved classics of the past. The hymnody of the church, including those classic choruses, is RICH and DEEP. It’s a mistake to forget about those songs, especially when you have a congregation of mixed age groups.

    It does make sense to focus more on the modern songs of worship if you have a mostly youthful congregation, but honestly, most kids aren’t listening to Christian music in their free time, and those classic songs that are intuitive, easy to learn, very singable, and have depth in the lyrics are still great songs that would be NEW songs to a new generation of kids who haven’t been exposed to them. Dust them off, freshen them up, give them a new treatment and see if they work. There are MANY songs that I have thought would be “instant classics” over the years. And I tried them out on congregations. But if the congregation didn’t seem to “get it,” I simply moved on and relegated the song to “special music” status, to be used in non-congregational singing situations.

    Take a look at the CCLI list, which is the list of songs that churches report that they are playing during worship. You won’t just see the trendy new songs, but also some of the tried and true classics that congregations still love to sing, and savvy worship leaders continue to roll out. “Open The Eyes of My Heart” by Paul Baloche (1997) is still #16. “Amazing Love (You Are My King)” by Billy Foote (1996) is still #19. Hillsong’s “Cornerstone” is in the top 25, and the copyright date says 2011, but the original “Solid Rock” song that Hillsong took and added a chorus to in order to make it their own is so old that it’s PUBLIC DOMAIN.

    https://us.songselect.com/search/ccli-top-songs

    Another factor to consider: Sometimes there is a “base melody” of a song, the verse or chorus the way it is on the first time through. On a lot of CCM recordings, the artist only sings that base melody the first time, and then modifies it later in the song to make it a more interesting recording worthy of radio. Worship leaders should keep on that base melody throughout the song for congregational singing. People can learn melody, but when the melody keeps evolving throughout a song, it makes for a very difficult learning curve for the congregation. Tomlin, Hillsong, Gateway – they all do it. Worship leaders should be content to sing that base melody, even if the recording artist’s version deviates from that melody deeper into the song.

    And of course, there can be segments of the service where a more performance oriented song can be OK – like during the communion, or the offering, or a prelude, or any place that the congregation is engaged in some other activity. “Special music” has it’s place.

  9. Doc B (J B Boren) May 27, 2014 / 11:17 am

    I’m afraid your youthful perspective has gotten the best of you here. We were at that crossroads in the late-80s to the mid-90s, and we took the wrong fork. This is no longer about taking the right trajectory, it is about recovering what has been lost.

    • Anthony Pero May 27, 2014 / 12:04 pm

      Or its possible that your local/congregational/denominational perspective got the best of _you_. The vast majority of Evangelical churches have only crossed this bridge in the last 15 years. While the leading edge of this movement may have happened as you say, in the 80s, its only been in the new millennium that it has become commonplace.

      • Dan Kreider May 27, 2014 / 10:52 pm

        Anthony, I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate. Speaking from a historical perspective, showing off has been a problem for at least the past century. Sure, it manifests itself differently. But since the advent of Charles Finney and Co., it’s been steadily increasing. No surprise, since the human heart has always been bent towards glory-stealing.

        But I agree with the OP – it’s worth addressing in the strongest possible language.

  10. Mike V. May 27, 2014 / 3:15 pm

    So, does this mean we should eliminate the choir? They basically perform … there is no congregational interaction (other than listening and, hopefully, preparing your heart for other aspects of worship).

    • Jamie Brown May 27, 2014 / 3:35 pm

      Hi Mike,

      The only thing I think we need to eliminate is performancism. Choirs, orchestras, bands, worship teams, vocal groups, bell choirs, etc., are all wonderful. Special pieces, anthems, new songs, solos, and instrumentals are are wonderful too. But it should all be employed for the glory of God and the building up of his church. If a choir or worship team never invites or leads a congregation in singing along, and is principally singing on their own while the congregation listens, I would encourage the choir or worship team to lean more towards the worship-leading side, and less to the performing side. During the singing portion of a gathering, the church is primarily built up into Christ by singing together to Christ. Yes, we can hear special pieces offered to God on our behalf, but if that’s happening most or all of the time, then we’re robbing our people of one of the greatest opportunities they should be enjoying from week to week: the corporate exaltation of Jesus Christ.

      Jamie

  11. Mike V. May 27, 2014 / 7:42 pm

    Jamie: I agree with your point; however, I think choirs fall into the “performancism” pitfall as much as any other “venue” (to include worship teams). We need to be careful to not categorize a particular style of music or music presentation into being “good” or “bad”. I’ve seen more praise teams leading the congregation in singing (and worship) than I have seen choirs doing such a thing. Praise teams can be an incredible benefit to worship (when they avoid what you call “performancism”) … not sure if you are willing to agree to that point or not. If it were up to me (and it’s not) I would avoid all forms of choirs, orchestras, bands, worship teams, vocal groups, bell choirs, etc. unless the congregation is singing (worshiping) right along with them. I go to church to worship, not listen to a concert.

    • Dan Kreider May 27, 2014 / 10:56 pm

      Mike, you’re right to want to avoid performance-ism, but I don’t see that being the necessary outcome. If a congregation is trained to love singing and to see themselves as active participants, and if the musicians are humble and self-forgetful, there’s nothing wrong with a choir. They’re singing on *behalf* of the congregation – musical expressions that are too intricate for the congregation to express themselves. But the focus need not be on the singers at all.

      You’re taking a somewhat utilitarian view: music as function, not music as art. There’s a ditch on both sides. But can’t music be beautiful, and God (the originator of all beauty) still be the sole recipient of honor?

      • Dan Kreider May 27, 2014 / 10:58 pm

        Another sub-point: although singing is certainly a necessary component of corporate worship, it’s not the only one. Are we worshiping as we hear Scripture read? During corporate prayer? If so, a congregation can be taught to view “special music” the same way. Listen and respond in worship to God.

      • Mike V. May 28, 2014 / 9:40 am

        Agree that there is nothing wrong with a choir … unless they are just there to “perform” … which in most cases in current times is what they are doing. I’m not taking a utilitarian view at all. I see music as both a function and an art … more so even as an art I think. In worship, God has to be the sole recipient of honor. I think we really agree on things; we’re just stating them differently.

  12. Mike V. May 27, 2014 / 8:12 pm

    Jamie: We agree then. Thanks.

  13. Harry Wood May 28, 2014 / 12:33 am

    These four points are reactionary and harmful to the faith. When organ music eclipsed Gregorian chants in worship I’m sure that same opposition was voiced. As a Methodist I appreciate John Wesley’s approach to church music. He took bar room tunes, provided new lyrics and led an entire generation to Christ. We should not stand in the way of those who are doing the same things now.

    • Dan Kreider May 29, 2014 / 9:01 am

      Harry, a couple points: Gregorian chant was performed without the use of instruments. But even if what you say were true, and opposition were raised, doesn’t that just prove the point? Their opposition would be just as valid as the concerns expressed in this article.

      And Charles Wesley didn’t use “bar room tunes” (neither did Luther). It’s a common misconception that probably grew from a confusion about German poetic form. AAB form (like “A Mighty Fortress”) is called “bar form.” Yes, it’s true that they sometimes adapted folk music of their time. But all throughout history, hymn writers have been careful to avoid association with worldliness.

      And lastly, I wouldn’t say that Wesley “led people to Christ.” Our music and our leadership don’t lead people to Christ. The Holy Spirit does that. It’s true that our music is a testimony to the world (Psalm 40:3, 1 Corinthians 14:24-25), but that’s not its primary function. Corporate worship is a dialog between God and His redeemed people. The unsaved are welcomed as guests and observers, but they’re not the point. Wesley would agree with this, I think.

  14. Ellyn Oliver May 28, 2014 / 7:26 am

    Hi Jamie,

    This is such a great article I and agree that there is an increasing danger of worship production and presentation being a distraction for the congregation from focusing their worship Jesus. I believe worship should be rooted in scripture- encouraging people to be united in glorifying Christ.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Ellyn (from New Scottish Hymns)

  15. thecardillos May 29, 2014 / 7:12 am

    Hi Jamie,
    We’ve been engaging with our pastors about this in our church, and it’s been refreshing to talk through, and to also know that we are not alone in our struggle with performancism. Thank you for sharing this.

    As a way of combatting this, my wife and I have been setting scripture to music, and recording it in a simple fashion (on my iPhone), with no bells and whistles. We are working towards recording a few more before putting it to disc so we can give it away to friends and family, but in the meantime, we are sharing it with whoever we are led to. These songs have blessed our family, and we pray they would bless you as well.

    cardillofamily.bandcamp.com

  16. Giles Hash May 29, 2014 / 9:19 am

    I completely agree! My biggest (personal) complaint about music in the church is that so many congregations teach that Music=Worship and Worship=Music. I genuinely believe that this is an oversight (rather than an intentional distortion) when leadership fails to teach that ALL of our lives should be an act of worship, day in and day out.

  17. Jim June 3, 2014 / 2:26 pm

    Jamie,

    Well said!

    I have a theory about the performance issue and I wonder if some of the older worship people would agree with it.

    When I was coming up in the music world, I was always in bands. The churches didn’t have bands. So we all cut our musical teeth performing in bands at various clubs and/or other venues. We honed our performance skills there. We learned how to put on an entertaining show, there.

    When churches started having bands perform worship songs, many of us were still performing in bands on Saturday nights and then dragging ourselves into church on Sunday morning. We understood that what we did at church and what we did at a club, corporate or wedding gig, were very different things. The secular gig was a SHOW with loud amps, awesome subs, and if we were really good, we had fog and lights! Sunday morning worship was just the opposite!

    Where I might go into a lengthy guitar solo on Saturday night, and find my way into the spotlight, I wouldn’t have dreamed about doing that on Sunday morning. Sunday morning was about Him, not me. Our worship leaders back then had to be good at training that performance mentality OUT of us! So we learned to get out of the way, to blend into the surroundings, and not do much to cause people to take their gaze off of Him and check out what we were doing, or we didn’t make it onto the team.

    That is so different than today. Now, for many of our musician’s, the only outlet for performing is Sunday morning. They are not playing in bands and let’s face it, musicians are egomaniacs. (Can I get an ‘amen’ from the Lead Pastors?) We start playing because we want to be stars and get the attention that our hero’s got. But if church is the only place we play, we have to get that sort of attention there.

    I think that is one of the reasons that the Sunday morning Songfest, has become more like a high energy, big production rock concert. It’s the only place these worship leaders have ever played.

  18. robstill June 17, 2014 / 4:22 pm

    HI Jamie, though my comment may be late to the party, I want to thank you for articulating and bringing “performancism” to the light. I agree with you 100%. We need discernment, wisdom and more of the Holy Spirit.

  19. Barry Bynum June 20, 2014 / 12:20 am

    I agree in general with your postings on this subject, and I share most your feelings about being concerned for the direction of the church regarding worship music. But it seems to me that I pick up a little bit of tone between the lines almost, that you have a personal preference for congregational singing, and possibly a slight despising of other types of expression. I’ll throw 2 thoughts in here: 1) we don’t really have a clear model from Scripture that shows us what New Testament worship meetings were like. It seems to me that there may have been many different types of gatherings, with different purposes. Would part of our problem be that we have been trying to operate a one-size-fits-all method of having meetings? ….. and 2) There are quite a number of indications in Scripture (mostly OT) that there are a lot of activities that are part of worship expression in addition to singing. There is shouting, dancing, clapping, trembling, falling face down, re-enacting battle scenes, writing things down, telling the stories God’s history to the children, etc. These are all part of acts of worship according to the Bible, which also says ‘whatever you do, do all as unto the Lord” ….also what does it mean when it says that the throng around the throne was singing “the song that no one could learn” …? My point here is that many of us in the western church and in our culturally entrenched patterns have barely scratched the surface of what real Holy-Spirit-anointed and Holy-Spirit-driven gatherings are about. I can tell you one thing it is about. Like you said it points to Jesus, above all. Lord help us to seek You in truth, and to unselfishly seek Your ways to build (rebuild) Your church.

  20. Jim June 20, 2014 / 9:56 am

    Barry,

    I think the biggest reason for so much problems in our current understanding of corporate worship stems from how we define things. We start with the equation that Worship = Singing and then build our models from that.

  21. Mike Gantt June 30, 2014 / 9:43 am

    Jim has put his finger on the fundamental problem – a problem which transcends the problem which the original post seeks to address. That is, as soon as you think worship = music or singing, you are building all your thinking on a false foundation.

    The biblical view of worship is how one lives (see, for example, John 4:23-24 and Romans 12:1-2) – not how one thinks and behaves in the first half of the confines of something we call a church or worship service.

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