Worship Mythbusters 4.3: The Role of the Worship Leader

WMB 4.3 — I am taking WMB and writing a few posts in this series about the ROLE OF THE WORSHIP LEADER.  This is part of a series here

MYTH:  Worship leading is not performing.

This is a myth!  What is better said is that worship leaders lead in the act of performing worship.

Many in our churches like to use the word “performance” and make it another projectile at the worship team.  They enjoy the fact that they can say a worship leader should not be performing, but worshiping as he leads as if the two are mutually exclusive.  It means that his preparation is devalued and the attempt at beauty and form are discouraged.  Worship expression or liturgy to many is simply a means, not and end.  Really, it is an act to be performed.

FACT:  Worship is an act that is performed. It is not random, it is intentional.  It is a choice.  So, worship leaders perform an act that leads people into this act.  Yes, you are performing when you worship! FACT:  Worship leadership needs preparation. Many think that a good heart, or good intentions means good worship leadership.  Wrong. Become good at guitar, sing in tune and work on your craft.  Any preacher worth his salt work on communication.  He or she does not assume his desire to communicate is enough.  The effective preacher prepares.

FACT: Beauty and form help lead people in worship. Yes, the look of your room, the sound of your music and the overall atmosphere matter. You tell a story beyond the lyrics or sermon through everything that touches the senses.  Leaders know this and address this.  Thank God for good architects who understand how to design a room.  Form is important.  Without structure, we lose any sense of taking people somewhere in worship.  Form has a story, meaning and application.

An entertainer uses his or her skills to intentionally engage people in a performance of music or comedy.  A worship leader is similar, even though the performance is worship through music or other forms.  The worship leader is like a performer–intentionality, preparation, and execution of form and beauty are all part of leading worship.

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

76 comments

  1. Interesting I should read this right after my morning devotion which talked about the Israelite priests “performing the service of the Lord.”
    Right on.

  2. Interesting I should read this right after my morning devotion which talked about the Israelite priests “performing the service of the Lord.”
    Right on.

  3. Interesting I should read this right after my morning devotion which talked about the Israelite priests “performing the service of the Lord.”
    Right on.

  4. Interesting I should read this right after my morning devotion which talked about the Israelite priests “performing the service of the Lord.”
    Right on.

  5. It has to be intentional, otherwise why do it, if we intentionaly worship to the Lord, our worship is directly to Him. By our actions and “performance” people will learn how to worship and grow to worship in their own way. Execution is vital so we do not distract from the intention, WORSHIP. This is why we try to better ourselves each and everyday with our craft.
    Great post Rich, God is using you in so many ways right now, it’s amazing.

  6. It has to be intentional, otherwise why do it, if we intentionaly worship to the Lord, our worship is directly to Him. By our actions and “performance” people will learn how to worship and grow to worship in their own way. Execution is vital so we do not distract from the intention, WORSHIP. This is why we try to better ourselves each and everyday with our craft.
    Great post Rich, God is using you in so many ways right now, it’s amazing.

  7. It has to be intentional, otherwise why do it, if we intentionaly worship to the Lord, our worship is directly to Him. By our actions and “performance” people will learn how to worship and grow to worship in their own way. Execution is vital so we do not distract from the intention, WORSHIP. This is why we try to better ourselves each and everyday with our craft.
    Great post Rich, God is using you in so many ways right now, it’s amazing.

  8. It has to be intentional, otherwise why do it, if we intentionaly worship to the Lord, our worship is directly to Him. By our actions and “performance” people will learn how to worship and grow to worship in their own way. Execution is vital so we do not distract from the intention, WORSHIP. This is why we try to better ourselves each and everyday with our craft.
    Great post Rich, God is using you in so many ways right now, it’s amazing.

  9. At first I had a gag reflex to your comment that worship is performance oriented. But now that I have processed that through it seems to make some sense. I think the main thing is that the performance is not what is worshiped. As long as that doesn’t happen, I think you make a good point. A leader that gets lost in personal worship usually leaves the group behind.

  10. At first I had a gag reflex to your comment that worship is performance oriented. But now that I have processed that through it seems to make some sense. I think the main thing is that the performance is not what is worshiped. As long as that doesn’t happen, I think you make a good point. A leader that gets lost in personal worship usually leaves the group behind.

  11. At first I had a gag reflex to your comment that worship is performance oriented. But now that I have processed that through it seems to make some sense. I think the main thing is that the performance is not what is worshiped. As long as that doesn’t happen, I think you make a good point. A leader that gets lost in personal worship usually leaves the group behind.

  12. At first I had a gag reflex to your comment that worship is performance oriented. But now that I have processed that through it seems to make some sense. I think the main thing is that the performance is not what is worshiped. As long as that doesn’t happen, I think you make a good point. A leader that gets lost in personal worship usually leaves the group behind.

  13. Dan…
    We are not songleaders…or simply musicians. And facilitating an individuals response is also not primary, even though important. What we do is lead a “corporate” response, which in essence requires spiritual leadership. (Even leading individuals would, too)

    For instance, lead by choosing the theological focus of who God is that morning and draw the people to that point. “Everlasting God”–we may do a song like this one to exemplify that part of God. He is the focus, our individual response may be where we start, but it cannot be the end. The end in a corporate setting is for the community of believers to grow together in attributing worth to God–for who He is and what He has done.

    This is our performance not my performance–a concert to God done as a whole congregation. We lead them in this as the backup band, per se.

  14. Dan…
    We are not songleaders…or simply musicians. And facilitating an individuals response is also not primary, even though important. What we do is lead a “corporate” response, which in essence requires spiritual leadership. (Even leading individuals would, too)

    For instance, lead by choosing the theological focus of who God is that morning and draw the people to that point. “Everlasting God”–we may do a song like this one to exemplify that part of God. He is the focus, our individual response may be where we start, but it cannot be the end. The end in a corporate setting is for the community of believers to grow together in attributing worth to God–for who He is and what He has done.

    This is our performance not my performance–a concert to God done as a whole congregation. We lead them in this as the backup band, per se.

  15. Dan…
    We are not songleaders…or simply musicians. And facilitating an individuals response is also not primary, even though important. What we do is lead a “corporate” response, which in essence requires spiritual leadership. (Even leading individuals would, too)

    For instance, lead by choosing the theological focus of who God is that morning and draw the people to that point. “Everlasting God”–we may do a song like this one to exemplify that part of God. He is the focus, our individual response may be where we start, but it cannot be the end. The end in a corporate setting is for the community of believers to grow together in attributing worth to God–for who He is and what He has done.

    This is our performance not my performance–a concert to God done as a whole congregation. We lead them in this as the backup band, per se.

  16. Dan…
    We are not songleaders…or simply musicians. And facilitating an individuals response is also not primary, even though important. What we do is lead a “corporate” response, which in essence requires spiritual leadership. (Even leading individuals would, too)

    For instance, lead by choosing the theological focus of who God is that morning and draw the people to that point. “Everlasting God”–we may do a song like this one to exemplify that part of God. He is the focus, our individual response may be where we start, but it cannot be the end. The end in a corporate setting is for the community of believers to grow together in attributing worth to God–for who He is and what He has done.

    This is our performance not my performance–a concert to God done as a whole congregation. We lead them in this as the backup band, per se.

  17. I completely agree. This is akin to what I’ve told my choir before about their performance. Sometimes, they may not be all that confident on a certain section when it comes to performance time. I tell them to act like they know exactly what they’re doing so it doesn’t show on their faces. It’s not an effort to be fake, but an effort to not distract from the leading of worship.
    Fact: Performance ≠ inauthentic.

  18. I completely agree. This is akin to what I’ve told my choir before about their performance. Sometimes, they may not be all that confident on a certain section when it comes to performance time. I tell them to act like they know exactly what they’re doing so it doesn’t show on their faces. It’s not an effort to be fake, but an effort to not distract from the leading of worship.
    Fact: Performance ≠ inauthentic.

  19. I completely agree. This is akin to what I’ve told my choir before about their performance. Sometimes, they may not be all that confident on a certain section when it comes to performance time. I tell them to act like they know exactly what they’re doing so it doesn’t show on their faces. It’s not an effort to be fake, but an effort to not distract from the leading of worship.
    Fact: Performance ≠ inauthentic.

  20. I completely agree. This is akin to what I’ve told my choir before about their performance. Sometimes, they may not be all that confident on a certain section when it comes to performance time. I tell them to act like they know exactly what they’re doing so it doesn’t show on their faces. It’s not an effort to be fake, but an effort to not distract from the leading of worship.
    Fact: Performance ≠ inauthentic.

  21. Nice post! Didn’t have the gag reflex, but was skeptical at first.
    Inherent in the word “performance,” when it’s stated as a barb, is the fact that people assume that we’re out hunting for someone at least to say, “Good job leading worship today!” and at worst, to achieve “star” status, even on a local level.

    Just as Jeff said, I’ve found that the best remedy for that sentiment is to be available and loving (with sincerity), and to get to know those people; not with the purpose of stifling some garbage talk, but to find out WHY they’re saying it… To show people that your “worship” can’t possibly be confined to what you do on a stage on a Sunday or Wednesday.

    I have at least a couple of major “success stories” here with our senior adults (wish I had a few more).

    We’re not a huge church fellowship (650 or so on a Sunday morning), so this is likely far easier to do in a congregation our size than it would be in a larger fellowship.

  22. Nice post! Didn’t have the gag reflex, but was skeptical at first.
    Inherent in the word “performance,” when it’s stated as a barb, is the fact that people assume that we’re out hunting for someone at least to say, “Good job leading worship today!” and at worst, to achieve “star” status, even on a local level.

    Just as Jeff said, I’ve found that the best remedy for that sentiment is to be available and loving (with sincerity), and to get to know those people; not with the purpose of stifling some garbage talk, but to find out WHY they’re saying it… To show people that your “worship” can’t possibly be confined to what you do on a stage on a Sunday or Wednesday.

    I have at least a couple of major “success stories” here with our senior adults (wish I had a few more).

    We’re not a huge church fellowship (650 or so on a Sunday morning), so this is likely far easier to do in a congregation our size than it would be in a larger fellowship.

  23. Nice post! Didn’t have the gag reflex, but was skeptical at first.
    Inherent in the word “performance,” when it’s stated as a barb, is the fact that people assume that we’re out hunting for someone at least to say, “Good job leading worship today!” and at worst, to achieve “star” status, even on a local level.

    Just as Jeff said, I’ve found that the best remedy for that sentiment is to be available and loving (with sincerity), and to get to know those people; not with the purpose of stifling some garbage talk, but to find out WHY they’re saying it… To show people that your “worship” can’t possibly be confined to what you do on a stage on a Sunday or Wednesday.

    I have at least a couple of major “success stories” here with our senior adults (wish I had a few more).

    We’re not a huge church fellowship (650 or so on a Sunday morning), so this is likely far easier to do in a congregation our size than it would be in a larger fellowship.

  24. Nice post! Didn’t have the gag reflex, but was skeptical at first.
    Inherent in the word “performance,” when it’s stated as a barb, is the fact that people assume that we’re out hunting for someone at least to say, “Good job leading worship today!” and at worst, to achieve “star” status, even on a local level.

    Just as Jeff said, I’ve found that the best remedy for that sentiment is to be available and loving (with sincerity), and to get to know those people; not with the purpose of stifling some garbage talk, but to find out WHY they’re saying it… To show people that your “worship” can’t possibly be confined to what you do on a stage on a Sunday or Wednesday.

    I have at least a couple of major “success stories” here with our senior adults (wish I had a few more).

    We’re not a huge church fellowship (650 or so on a Sunday morning), so this is likely far easier to do in a congregation our size than it would be in a larger fellowship.

  25. Whoops! *Dan* said those things I was agreeing with in my comment.
    (However, I do the same thing with my choir that Jeff noted.)

  26. Whoops! *Dan* said those things I was agreeing with in my comment.
    (However, I do the same thing with my choir that Jeff noted.)

  27. Whoops! *Dan* said those things I was agreeing with in my comment.
    (However, I do the same thing with my choir that Jeff noted.)

  28. Whoops! *Dan* said those things I was agreeing with in my comment.
    (However, I do the same thing with my choir that Jeff noted.)

  29. There are two valid easily-forgotten points though in the ideas behind this five-word paraphrased myth:1. Sunday morning American church music should not have any element of self-aggrandizement; rather, it is all to the glory of God, and
    2. It is not a concert in the sense of “we perform, you (the audience) listens”, but rather our purpose in performing is to draw the audience into participating in physical acts of worship.

    That having been said, I agree, musical worship is a performance, not only in the obvious sense of the word but also in the public exhibition sense and the best response of the music team after taking to heart the two points above is to simply embrace it. The physical action of singing and playing instruments is an exhibition; we cannot deconstruct it into anything else.

    Musicians and singers need freedom to move. What might be considered as an unglorifying action might be the only way to get the necessary sound from the instrument or voice such as a quick arm movement or an awkward contortion to finger a chord or some swaying or feet movement to feel the rhythm. Simply embrace it.

    We would still be performing even if we played behind a curtain. The only way for our music to be a non-performance is for nobody to observe it; the performance is really in the eyes, ears, and minds of the listener. So here’s the question: if a music team performed and nobody saw or heard it, was it a performance?

    There will always be those who throw projectiles at the team and no matter what we do someone will find yet another reason to validate throwing them. The thing is, I don’t think these reasons really have anything to do with the point they’re attacking, such as labeling the team’s work as an unglorifying performance, but usually there’s an underlying hurt. The projectile-thrower might wish to be on the team but is too afraid to try out or was rejected from the team, or a team member didn’t say “hello” to them, or we appear clique-ish, or they think we’re want-to-be but couldn’t-hack-it rock musicians, or they equate electric music with sin, or a team member’s hairstyle reminds them of their wayward child, or one of a hundred other reasons. Maybe they’re just plain mad at God.

    Our best course of action is to circulate and be available because many times once the attacker is befriended the issue disappears.

  30. There are two valid easily-forgotten points though in the ideas behind this five-word paraphrased myth:1. Sunday morning American church music should not have any element of self-aggrandizement; rather, it is all to the glory of God, and
    2. It is not a concert in the sense of “we perform, you (the audience) listens”, but rather our purpose in performing is to draw the audience into participating in physical acts of worship.

    That having been said, I agree, musical worship is a performance, not only in the obvious sense of the word but also in the public exhibition sense and the best response of the music team after taking to heart the two points above is to simply embrace it. The physical action of singing and playing instruments is an exhibition; we cannot deconstruct it into anything else.

    Musicians and singers need freedom to move. What might be considered as an unglorifying action might be the only way to get the necessary sound from the instrument or voice such as a quick arm movement or an awkward contortion to finger a chord or some swaying or feet movement to feel the rhythm. Simply embrace it.

    We would still be performing even if we played behind a curtain. The only way for our music to be a non-performance is for nobody to observe it; the performance is really in the eyes, ears, and minds of the listener. So here’s the question: if a music team performed and nobody saw or heard it, was it a performance?

    There will always be those who throw projectiles at the team and no matter what we do someone will find yet another reason to validate throwing them. The thing is, I don’t think these reasons really have anything to do with the point they’re attacking, such as labeling the team’s work as an unglorifying performance, but usually there’s an underlying hurt. The projectile-thrower might wish to be on the team but is too afraid to try out or was rejected from the team, or a team member didn’t say “hello” to them, or we appear clique-ish, or they think we’re want-to-be but couldn’t-hack-it rock musicians, or they equate electric music with sin, or a team member’s hairstyle reminds them of their wayward child, or one of a hundred other reasons. Maybe they’re just plain mad at God.

    Our best course of action is to circulate and be available because many times once the attacker is befriended the issue disappears.

  31. There are two valid easily-forgotten points though in the ideas behind this five-word paraphrased myth:1. Sunday morning American church music should not have any element of self-aggrandizement; rather, it is all to the glory of God, and
    2. It is not a concert in the sense of “we perform, you (the audience) listens”, but rather our purpose in performing is to draw the audience into participating in physical acts of worship.

    That having been said, I agree, musical worship is a performance, not only in the obvious sense of the word but also in the public exhibition sense and the best response of the music team after taking to heart the two points above is to simply embrace it. The physical action of singing and playing instruments is an exhibition; we cannot deconstruct it into anything else.

    Musicians and singers need freedom to move. What might be considered as an unglorifying action might be the only way to get the necessary sound from the instrument or voice such as a quick arm movement or an awkward contortion to finger a chord or some swaying or feet movement to feel the rhythm. Simply embrace it.

    We would still be performing even if we played behind a curtain. The only way for our music to be a non-performance is for nobody to observe it; the performance is really in the eyes, ears, and minds of the listener. So here’s the question: if a music team performed and nobody saw or heard it, was it a performance?

    There will always be those who throw projectiles at the team and no matter what we do someone will find yet another reason to validate throwing them. The thing is, I don’t think these reasons really have anything to do with the point they’re attacking, such as labeling the team’s work as an unglorifying performance, but usually there’s an underlying hurt. The projectile-thrower might wish to be on the team but is too afraid to try out or was rejected from the team, or a team member didn’t say “hello” to them, or we appear clique-ish, or they think we’re want-to-be but couldn’t-hack-it rock musicians, or they equate electric music with sin, or a team member’s hairstyle reminds them of their wayward child, or one of a hundred other reasons. Maybe they’re just plain mad at God.

    Our best course of action is to circulate and be available because many times once the attacker is befriended the issue disappears.

  32. There are two valid easily-forgotten points though in the ideas behind this five-word paraphrased myth:1. Sunday morning American church music should not have any element of self-aggrandizement; rather, it is all to the glory of God, and
    2. It is not a concert in the sense of “we perform, you (the audience) listens”, but rather our purpose in performing is to draw the audience into participating in physical acts of worship.

    That having been said, I agree, musical worship is a performance, not only in the obvious sense of the word but also in the public exhibition sense and the best response of the music team after taking to heart the two points above is to simply embrace it. The physical action of singing and playing instruments is an exhibition; we cannot deconstruct it into anything else.

    Musicians and singers need freedom to move. What might be considered as an unglorifying action might be the only way to get the necessary sound from the instrument or voice such as a quick arm movement or an awkward contortion to finger a chord or some swaying or feet movement to feel the rhythm. Simply embrace it.

    We would still be performing even if we played behind a curtain. The only way for our music to be a non-performance is for nobody to observe it; the performance is really in the eyes, ears, and minds of the listener. So here’s the question: if a music team performed and nobody saw or heard it, was it a performance?

    There will always be those who throw projectiles at the team and no matter what we do someone will find yet another reason to validate throwing them. The thing is, I don’t think these reasons really have anything to do with the point they’re attacking, such as labeling the team’s work as an unglorifying performance, but usually there’s an underlying hurt. The projectile-thrower might wish to be on the team but is too afraid to try out or was rejected from the team, or a team member didn’t say “hello” to them, or we appear clique-ish, or they think we’re want-to-be but couldn’t-hack-it rock musicians, or they equate electric music with sin, or a team member’s hairstyle reminds them of their wayward child, or one of a hundred other reasons. Maybe they’re just plain mad at God.

    Our best course of action is to circulate and be available because many times once the attacker is befriended the issue disappears.

  33. Thanks for the posts. This something I have really been struggling with for about 7 months now. I will let this all soak in!

  34. Thanks for the posts. This something I have really been struggling with for about 7 months now. I will let this all soak in!

  35. Thanks for the posts. This something I have really been struggling with for about 7 months now. I will let this all soak in!

  36. Thanks for the posts. This something I have really been struggling with for about 7 months now. I will let this all soak in!

  37. I hate to burst the bubble, but with hundreds of people we are not going to be able to befriend everyone who misunderstands us and the motives. The fact is, when you lead anything you will have critics. In this case, I am trying to encourage worship team and worship leaders (like Jason) to accept that they should be appreciated and do not have to apologize for what they do and how they do it when they are serving as worship leaders just because some do not understand or feel the things Dan mentions–resentment, etc.
    God is the audience–the congregation is the choir–the worship team is the backup band.

    It might help to ask these people one-on-one who feel critical, “Do you think God was pleased with your worship offering today?” Hmmm. Ultimately, that is what we are trying to get people to ask, right?

  38. I hate to burst the bubble, but with hundreds of people we are not going to be able to befriend everyone who misunderstands us and the motives. The fact is, when you lead anything you will have critics. In this case, I am trying to encourage worship team and worship leaders (like Jason) to accept that they should be appreciated and do not have to apologize for what they do and how they do it when they are serving as worship leaders just because some do not understand or feel the things Dan mentions–resentment, etc.
    God is the audience–the congregation is the choir–the worship team is the backup band.

    It might help to ask these people one-on-one who feel critical, “Do you think God was pleased with your worship offering today?” Hmmm. Ultimately, that is what we are trying to get people to ask, right?

  39. I hate to burst the bubble, but with hundreds of people we are not going to be able to befriend everyone who misunderstands us and the motives. The fact is, when you lead anything you will have critics. In this case, I am trying to encourage worship team and worship leaders (like Jason) to accept that they should be appreciated and do not have to apologize for what they do and how they do it when they are serving as worship leaders just because some do not understand or feel the things Dan mentions–resentment, etc.
    God is the audience–the congregation is the choir–the worship team is the backup band.

    It might help to ask these people one-on-one who feel critical, “Do you think God was pleased with your worship offering today?” Hmmm. Ultimately, that is what we are trying to get people to ask, right?

  40. I hate to burst the bubble, but with hundreds of people we are not going to be able to befriend everyone who misunderstands us and the motives. The fact is, when you lead anything you will have critics. In this case, I am trying to encourage worship team and worship leaders (like Jason) to accept that they should be appreciated and do not have to apologize for what they do and how they do it when they are serving as worship leaders just because some do not understand or feel the things Dan mentions–resentment, etc.
    God is the audience–the congregation is the choir–the worship team is the backup band.

    It might help to ask these people one-on-one who feel critical, “Do you think God was pleased with your worship offering today?” Hmmm. Ultimately, that is what we are trying to get people to ask, right?

  41. Yes, unfortunately there’s little difference between the world and the church of God: those with high visibility become a magnet for criticism. But love is powerful (I Peter 4:8) and can change critical hearts. This could be the team motto:
    The Irresistible Revolution:
    Changing our church from the inside out,
    One critic at a time.

  42. Yes, unfortunately there’s little difference between the world and the church of God: those with high visibility become a magnet for criticism. But love is powerful (I Peter 4:8) and can change critical hearts. This could be the team motto:
    The Irresistible Revolution:
    Changing our church from the inside out,
    One critic at a time.

  43. Yes, unfortunately there’s little difference between the world and the church of God: those with high visibility become a magnet for criticism. But love is powerful (I Peter 4:8) and can change critical hearts. This could be the team motto:
    The Irresistible Revolution:
    Changing our church from the inside out,
    One critic at a time.

  44. Yes, unfortunately there’s little difference between the world and the church of God: those with high visibility become a magnet for criticism. But love is powerful (I Peter 4:8) and can change critical hearts. This could be the team motto:
    The Irresistible Revolution:
    Changing our church from the inside out,
    One critic at a time.

  45. Is our job to change critics hearts? That monkey is not one that I would wish on anybody’s back.
    If one wishes to build a relationship and be open and take the time, then they perhaps can earn the right to critique a persons “motives” in that context. (We should tread lightly when question motives since we have no clue about that.) Leaders need some grace here since we are accountable more so than someone not putting their life in the line of fire. (Hebrews 13:17)

  46. Is our job to change critics hearts? That monkey is not one that I would wish on anybody’s back.
    If one wishes to build a relationship and be open and take the time, then they perhaps can earn the right to critique a persons “motives” in that context. (We should tread lightly when question motives since we have no clue about that.) Leaders need some grace here since we are accountable more so than someone not putting their life in the line of fire. (Hebrews 13:17)

  47. Is our job to change critics hearts? That monkey is not one that I would wish on anybody’s back.
    If one wishes to build a relationship and be open and take the time, then they perhaps can earn the right to critique a persons “motives” in that context. (We should tread lightly when question motives since we have no clue about that.) Leaders need some grace here since we are accountable more so than someone not putting their life in the line of fire. (Hebrews 13:17)

  48. Is our job to change critics hearts? That monkey is not one that I would wish on anybody’s back.
    If one wishes to build a relationship and be open and take the time, then they perhaps can earn the right to critique a persons “motives” in that context. (We should tread lightly when question motives since we have no clue about that.) Leaders need some grace here since we are accountable more so than someone not putting their life in the line of fire. (Hebrews 13:17)

  49. No, it’s not our job to change a critic’s heart; our job is simply to love. We don’t have to discern any motives, in fact, we may not even know the person whom we’re befriending is a critic.
    An admittedly simple scenario would go like this: Joe thinks the music team participates in ungodly performance on Sunday morning because, of all things, my hair is offensive to him, because, by gosh, why else would I have hair like that other than to draw attention to myself? He’ll never say that, but that is the underlying problem. Joe doesn’t know me; I am simply a symbolic icon on the stage that is representative to him of something he doesn’t like.

    By chance I get into the same home group with Joe. We get to talking and find out we both think that Toyota makes the greatest pickup trucks in the whole wide world. I just became human to him at that point and the hair problem and concomitant criticism simply disappears. The bonus: we’ve each made a new friend. I didn’t even know he was the one putting a card in the offering basket every Sunday complaining about the team being a bunch of ungodly performers.

  50. No, it’s not our job to change a critic’s heart; our job is simply to love. We don’t have to discern any motives, in fact, we may not even know the person whom we’re befriending is a critic.
    An admittedly simple scenario would go like this: Joe thinks the music team participates in ungodly performance on Sunday morning because, of all things, my hair is offensive to him, because, by gosh, why else would I have hair like that other than to draw attention to myself? He’ll never say that, but that is the underlying problem. Joe doesn’t know me; I am simply a symbolic icon on the stage that is representative to him of something he doesn’t like.

    By chance I get into the same home group with Joe. We get to talking and find out we both think that Toyota makes the greatest pickup trucks in the whole wide world. I just became human to him at that point and the hair problem and concomitant criticism simply disappears. The bonus: we’ve each made a new friend. I didn’t even know he was the one putting a card in the offering basket every Sunday complaining about the team being a bunch of ungodly performers.

  51. No, it’s not our job to change a critic’s heart; our job is simply to love. We don’t have to discern any motives, in fact, we may not even know the person whom we’re befriending is a critic.
    An admittedly simple scenario would go like this: Joe thinks the music team participates in ungodly performance on Sunday morning because, of all things, my hair is offensive to him, because, by gosh, why else would I have hair like that other than to draw attention to myself? He’ll never say that, but that is the underlying problem. Joe doesn’t know me; I am simply a symbolic icon on the stage that is representative to him of something he doesn’t like.

    By chance I get into the same home group with Joe. We get to talking and find out we both think that Toyota makes the greatest pickup trucks in the whole wide world. I just became human to him at that point and the hair problem and concomitant criticism simply disappears. The bonus: we’ve each made a new friend. I didn’t even know he was the one putting a card in the offering basket every Sunday complaining about the team being a bunch of ungodly performers.

  52. No, it’s not our job to change a critic’s heart; our job is simply to love. We don’t have to discern any motives, in fact, we may not even know the person whom we’re befriending is a critic.
    An admittedly simple scenario would go like this: Joe thinks the music team participates in ungodly performance on Sunday morning because, of all things, my hair is offensive to him, because, by gosh, why else would I have hair like that other than to draw attention to myself? He’ll never say that, but that is the underlying problem. Joe doesn’t know me; I am simply a symbolic icon on the stage that is representative to him of something he doesn’t like.

    By chance I get into the same home group with Joe. We get to talking and find out we both think that Toyota makes the greatest pickup trucks in the whole wide world. I just became human to him at that point and the hair problem and concomitant criticism simply disappears. The bonus: we’ve each made a new friend. I didn’t even know he was the one putting a card in the offering basket every Sunday complaining about the team being a bunch of ungodly performers.

  53. As a worship leader, I have said that very phrase “worship leading is not performance” many times to new worship musicians as I try to teach them that they are not giving a concert to the congregation. It is not a “performance” in the sense that we are there not to entertain the people but to provide a vehicle to worship. And the audience/performer relationship is different in worship–God inhabits the praise of His people, so it goes beyond the human performer/audience interchange of a concert. We perform worship, but it is not a performance in that sense.
    I agree with the way you’ve taken the word “performance” and used another definition of that word to make the term more broad. True, anything done is performed, so by your definition worship is performance. Do we really want to engage in semantics?

    Critics will always be there, this is true. What matters to me is “Who am I performing for?” If I am singing or playing to get applause from the congregation then I have the wrong audience in mind.

    I get the sense that this “myth” is a response to the hurt caused when this was said as a criticism, not really a debunking of a worship myth.

  54. As a worship leader, I have said that very phrase “worship leading is not performance” many times to new worship musicians as I try to teach them that they are not giving a concert to the congregation. It is not a “performance” in the sense that we are there not to entertain the people but to provide a vehicle to worship. And the audience/performer relationship is different in worship–God inhabits the praise of His people, so it goes beyond the human performer/audience interchange of a concert. We perform worship, but it is not a performance in that sense.
    I agree with the way you’ve taken the word “performance” and used another definition of that word to make the term more broad. True, anything done is performed, so by your definition worship is performance. Do we really want to engage in semantics?

    Critics will always be there, this is true. What matters to me is “Who am I performing for?” If I am singing or playing to get applause from the congregation then I have the wrong audience in mind.

    I get the sense that this “myth” is a response to the hurt caused when this was said as a criticism, not really a debunking of a worship myth.

  55. As a worship leader, I have said that very phrase “worship leading is not performance” many times to new worship musicians as I try to teach them that they are not giving a concert to the congregation. It is not a “performance” in the sense that we are there not to entertain the people but to provide a vehicle to worship. And the audience/performer relationship is different in worship–God inhabits the praise of His people, so it goes beyond the human performer/audience interchange of a concert. We perform worship, but it is not a performance in that sense.
    I agree with the way you’ve taken the word “performance” and used another definition of that word to make the term more broad. True, anything done is performed, so by your definition worship is performance. Do we really want to engage in semantics?

    Critics will always be there, this is true. What matters to me is “Who am I performing for?” If I am singing or playing to get applause from the congregation then I have the wrong audience in mind.

    I get the sense that this “myth” is a response to the hurt caused when this was said as a criticism, not really a debunking of a worship myth.

  56. As a worship leader, I have said that very phrase “worship leading is not performance” many times to new worship musicians as I try to teach them that they are not giving a concert to the congregation. It is not a “performance” in the sense that we are there not to entertain the people but to provide a vehicle to worship. And the audience/performer relationship is different in worship–God inhabits the praise of His people, so it goes beyond the human performer/audience interchange of a concert. We perform worship, but it is not a performance in that sense.
    I agree with the way you’ve taken the word “performance” and used another definition of that word to make the term more broad. True, anything done is performed, so by your definition worship is performance. Do we really want to engage in semantics?

    Critics will always be there, this is true. What matters to me is “Who am I performing for?” If I am singing or playing to get applause from the congregation then I have the wrong audience in mind.

    I get the sense that this “myth” is a response to the hurt caused when this was said as a criticism, not really a debunking of a worship myth.

  57. As a worship leader, I have said that very phrase “worship leading is not performance” many times to new worship musicians as I try to teach them that they are not giving a concert to the congregation. It is not a “performance” in the sense that we are there not to entertain the people but to provide a vehicle to worship. And the audience/performer relationship is different in worship–God inhabits the praise of His people, so it goes beyond the human performer/audience interchange of a concert. We perform worship, but it is not a performance in that sense.
    I agree with the way you’ve taken the word “performance” and used another definition of that word to make the term more broad. True, anything done is performed, so by your definition worship is performance. Do we really want to engage in semantics?

    Critics will always be there, this is true. What matters to me is “Who am I performing for?” If I am singing or playing to get applause from the congregation then I have the wrong audience in mind.

    I get the sense that this “myth” is a response to the hurt caused when this was said as a criticism, not really a debunking of a worship myth.

  58. As a worship leader, I have said that very phrase “worship leading is not performance” many times to new worship musicians as I try to teach them that they are not giving a concert to the congregation. It is not a “performance” in the sense that we are there not to entertain the people but to provide a vehicle to worship. And the audience/performer relationship is different in worship–God inhabits the praise of His people, so it goes beyond the human performer/audience interchange of a concert. We perform worship, but it is not a performance in that sense.
    I agree with the way you’ve taken the word “performance” and used another definition of that word to make the term more broad. True, anything done is performed, so by your definition worship is performance. Do we really want to engage in semantics?

    Critics will always be there, this is true. What matters to me is “Who am I performing for?” If I am singing or playing to get applause from the congregation then I have the wrong audience in mind.

    I get the sense that this “myth” is a response to the hurt caused when this was said as a criticism, not really a debunking of a worship myth.

  59. As a worship leader, I have said that very phrase “worship leading is not performance” many times to new worship musicians as I try to teach them that they are not giving a concert to the congregation. It is not a “performance” in the sense that we are there not to entertain the people but to provide a vehicle to worship. And the audience/performer relationship is different in worship–God inhabits the praise of His people, so it goes beyond the human performer/audience interchange of a concert. We perform worship, but it is not a performance in that sense.
    I agree with the way you’ve taken the word “performance” and used another definition of that word to make the term more broad. True, anything done is performed, so by your definition worship is performance. Do we really want to engage in semantics?

    Critics will always be there, this is true. What matters to me is “Who am I performing for?” If I am singing or playing to get applause from the congregation then I have the wrong audience in mind.

    I get the sense that this “myth” is a response to the hurt caused when this was said as a criticism, not really a debunking of a worship myth.

  60. As a worship leader, I have said that very phrase “worship leading is not performance” many times to new worship musicians as I try to teach them that they are not giving a concert to the congregation. It is not a “performance” in the sense that we are there not to entertain the people but to provide a vehicle to worship. And the audience/performer relationship is different in worship–God inhabits the praise of His people, so it goes beyond the human performer/audience interchange of a concert. We perform worship, but it is not a performance in that sense.
    I agree with the way you’ve taken the word “performance” and used another definition of that word to make the term more broad. True, anything done is performed, so by your definition worship is performance. Do we really want to engage in semantics?

    Critics will always be there, this is true. What matters to me is “Who am I performing for?” If I am singing or playing to get applause from the congregation then I have the wrong audience in mind.

    I get the sense that this “myth” is a response to the hurt caused when this was said as a criticism, not really a debunking of a worship myth.

  61. I’m not sure why that posted twice, or why it shows “Dan” as the author, but I only intended to comment once and my name’s not Dan.
    don’t shoot me.

  62. I’m not sure why that posted twice, or why it shows “Dan” as the author, but I only intended to comment once and my name’s not Dan.
    don’t shoot me.

  63. I’m not sure why that posted twice, or why it shows “Dan” as the author, but I only intended to comment once and my name’s not Dan.
    don’t shoot me.

  64. I’m not sure why that posted twice, or why it shows “Dan” as the author, but I only intended to comment once and my name’s not Dan.
    don’t shoot me.

  65. Dear Mr. Amused (since you left no name).
    Words really do matter, but we are not talking about semantics. We prepare like any performer–skill, rehearsal, strategy, and thought. Yes, we perform when we lead worship. Every preacher does, too. They perform a sermon. A teacher performs a lesson. No redefinitions here at all.

    No decent performer just gets up there and expects to engage his or her audience. And even though the ultimate audience is God, we worship leaders need to lead the church to perform that act of worship. If we do not engage the church, we are not doing our job.

    What you may be doing to your worship team is telling them they do not have to be that good or prepared and that if people are not engaging you can spiritualize the matter to death. The human side is still a part of what we do because it is not the facilitation of an individual’s worship (one human to God), but a corporate thing we do when we gather (human-to-human with God).

    In that sense, the musicians can use their skills of performance and entertainment to help the group worship “together”. Psalm 33:3 “Play with skill..” Now THAT is performance.

    Many words in Hebrew use the actual instrumental act along with worship. It is interesting to me that we find zamar–to praise will plucking a string–and many other specific language. All this is to say, that our musicians indeed lead with their performing human-to-human skills. The difference is content, focus and context–a concert of praise and worship.

    As far as critics, they will always be there, regardless–another issue entirely. I am writing these things to free up you and your worship team from the legalism of trite sayings thrown around these days. Really, even what you told your team is a repeated phrase that deserves deconstruction and thought. Christians–think with me here! That’s what this whole conversation is about.

  66. Dear Mr. Amused (since you left no name).
    Words really do matter, but we are not talking about semantics. We prepare like any performer–skill, rehearsal, strategy, and thought. Yes, we perform when we lead worship. Every preacher does, too. They perform a sermon. A teacher performs a lesson. No redefinitions here at all.

    No decent performer just gets up there and expects to engage his or her audience. And even though the ultimate audience is God, we worship leaders need to lead the church to perform that act of worship. If we do not engage the church, we are not doing our job.

    What you may be doing to your worship team is telling them they do not have to be that good or prepared and that if people are not engaging you can spiritualize the matter to death. The human side is still a part of what we do because it is not the facilitation of an individual’s worship (one human to God), but a corporate thing we do when we gather (human-to-human with God).

    In that sense, the musicians can use their skills of performance and entertainment to help the group worship “together”. Psalm 33:3 “Play with skill..” Now THAT is performance.

    Many words in Hebrew use the actual instrumental act along with worship. It is interesting to me that we find zamar–to praise will plucking a string–and many other specific language. All this is to say, that our musicians indeed lead with their performing human-to-human skills. The difference is content, focus and context–a concert of praise and worship.

    As far as critics, they will always be there, regardless–another issue entirely. I am writing these things to free up you and your worship team from the legalism of trite sayings thrown around these days. Really, even what you told your team is a repeated phrase that deserves deconstruction and thought. Christians–think with me here! That’s what this whole conversation is about.

  67. Dear Mr. Amused (since you left no name).
    Words really do matter, but we are not talking about semantics. We prepare like any performer–skill, rehearsal, strategy, and thought. Yes, we perform when we lead worship. Every preacher does, too. They perform a sermon. A teacher performs a lesson. No redefinitions here at all.

    No decent performer just gets up there and expects to engage his or her audience. And even though the ultimate audience is God, we worship leaders need to lead the church to perform that act of worship. If we do not engage the church, we are not doing our job.

    What you may be doing to your worship team is telling them they do not have to be that good or prepared and that if people are not engaging you can spiritualize the matter to death. The human side is still a part of what we do because it is not the facilitation of an individual’s worship (one human to God), but a corporate thing we do when we gather (human-to-human with God).

    In that sense, the musicians can use their skills of performance and entertainment to help the group worship “together”. Psalm 33:3 “Play with skill..” Now THAT is performance.

    Many words in Hebrew use the actual instrumental act along with worship. It is interesting to me that we find zamar–to praise will plucking a string–and many other specific language. All this is to say, that our musicians indeed lead with their performing human-to-human skills. The difference is content, focus and context–a concert of praise and worship.

    As far as critics, they will always be there, regardless–another issue entirely. I am writing these things to free up you and your worship team from the legalism of trite sayings thrown around these days. Really, even what you told your team is a repeated phrase that deserves deconstruction and thought. Christians–think with me here! That’s what this whole conversation is about.

  68. Dear Mr. Amused (since you left no name).
    Words really do matter, but we are not talking about semantics. We prepare like any performer–skill, rehearsal, strategy, and thought. Yes, we perform when we lead worship. Every preacher does, too. They perform a sermon. A teacher performs a lesson. No redefinitions here at all.

    No decent performer just gets up there and expects to engage his or her audience. And even though the ultimate audience is God, we worship leaders need to lead the church to perform that act of worship. If we do not engage the church, we are not doing our job.

    What you may be doing to your worship team is telling them they do not have to be that good or prepared and that if people are not engaging you can spiritualize the matter to death. The human side is still a part of what we do because it is not the facilitation of an individual’s worship (one human to God), but a corporate thing we do when we gather (human-to-human with God).

    In that sense, the musicians can use their skills of performance and entertainment to help the group worship “together”. Psalm 33:3 “Play with skill..” Now THAT is performance.

    Many words in Hebrew use the actual instrumental act along with worship. It is interesting to me that we find zamar–to praise will plucking a string–and many other specific language. All this is to say, that our musicians indeed lead with their performing human-to-human skills. The difference is content, focus and context–a concert of praise and worship.

    As far as critics, they will always be there, regardless–another issue entirely. I am writing these things to free up you and your worship team from the legalism of trite sayings thrown around these days. Really, even what you told your team is a repeated phrase that deserves deconstruction and thought. Christians–think with me here! That’s what this whole conversation is about.

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