Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Jamie Brown recently attended the National Worship Leader Conference and he wrote about his reflections: Are We Headed For A Crash? Reflections On The Current State of Evangelical Worship.
What he observed, he concludes, was performancism and it troubled him.
It’s the theme of performancism. The worship leader as the performer. The congregation as the audience. The sanctuary as the concert hall.
It really is a problem. It really is a thing. And we really can’t allow it to become the norm. Worship leaders, we must identify and kill performancism while we can.
It’s not rocket science.
Sing songs people know (or can learn easily). Sing them in congregational keys. Sing and celebrate the power, glory, and salvation of God. Serve your congregation. Saturate them with the word of God. Get your face off the big screen. Use your original songs in extreme moderation. Err on the side of including as many people as possible in what’s going on. Keep the lights up. Stop talking so much. Don’t let loops/lights/visuals become your outlet for creativity at the expense of the centrality of the gospel. Point to Jesus. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Don’t sing songs with bad lyrics or weak theology. Tailor your worship leading, and the songs you pick, to include the largest cross-section of your congregation that you can. Lead pastorally.
Two brief comments.
First, to be fair, what he attended was not a corporate worship service, so it is not completely accurate to draw hard and fast conclusions from a conference designed for this purpose to the local church. But what often happens is that whatever one experiences at such a conference or event, that experience is brought back and superimposed on the corporate worship service in the local church. That can and often does become problematic. Rather than something like this being the model for who the corporate church is and what the corporate church does, since we are an outpost of heaven we reflect now what is happening there, since, according to Hebrews, "you have come" (Heb. 12:22-24).
Second, the conference and the title refer to “Worship Leader” and “Evangelical Worship.” In both instances the term “worship” refers primarily to music. And yet, biblical worship consists of much more than this: praying and preaching to name just two. One of the problems is that the definition and understanding of worship have become reductionistic. Many good books have written about this, and it is vital to bear in mind.
What do you think of this assessment?