The nature of worship has shifted from corporate prayer to platform presentational performance. Worship, instead of being a rehearsal of God’s saving actions in the world and for the world, is exchanged for making people feel comfortable, happy, and affirmed.

-Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative


I can relate to this and feel this in my role as a worship leader.  At our church, we end up using BOTH elements.  For example, this past weekend we sang 5 songs congregationally, but we led the songs with a full band and vocal team.  We talk with our teams about this performance tension all the time.  We aren’t here to perform.  We are here to glorify God and to help others worship.  So we sing and we also spend time in prayer, but we also have a dramatic monologue that tells the story of God…it’s a creative tension.

What do you think????


2 thoughts on “

  1. Sam, this short blog post has me thinking.
    Ideally, and ultimately, our goal is to help people worship God. That’s the point. Corporate connection with our Creator in praise and worship. However, we know that people enter into congregational worship/prayer at various stages in their own spiritual journey. While the goal is engagement with God, it may take some platform performance presentational aspects in order to help teach people and invite them into deeper levels of engagement in worship.
    As long as we are pursuing our ultimate goal and not allowing these “performance” elements to subvert our deeper purpose we are on the right track. The problem that sometimes happens to us is that the tools we use in order to draw people in become trappings which distract our focus and energy. They become ends in themselves.
    We become enamored with creativity and expression rather than continually calling ourselves back with questions like, “Who is this wonderful God we are striving to help people engage? Why is He so valuable to us? What type of expression is worthy of such a wonderful Savior? What types of methods can we employ in order to draw attention to Jesus in the most faithful and effective ways we can muster? What is He calling us to in this season and how can we put worship elements in place that enable us to open up to His presence and calling right now?”
    One final thought for now is simply that it is the Holy Spirit who is responsible for life change. Our role is to do what we can to create space in time so that we (and those we lead) are able to open up to His presence, love, power, and guidance. Sometimes, my own creative drive gets in the way of just sitting still and listening to Him.
    Thanks for the post. Great thought-provoker!


    1. Mark, thanks for the comment! I love Webber’s writings and it’s still working itself out in the way I lead worship. One thing that we do at ECC is speak out ministry tag line or motto everything we go out to lead worship. We stand in a circle and say, “We exist to give glory to God and to help others worship”! I mention that because you mentioned the “ultimate goal” of worship is to lead others to God. I believe that it is true, but only after the first goal of giving God glory. Does leading others to God bring him more glory? Of course, but I think Webber would say that we do that by telling God’s story and helping people to engage in that. Maybe it’s just semantics, but that might be a piece of what Webber is talking about and part of the creative tension we live in as worship leaders…anyway, I’m still mulling it over…


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