Welcome to the Worship Circus. Part 1.

A good discussion between David Fitch and Ed Stetzer has really got the juices flowing this afternoon. One of the things that really struck me was this idea: Church gatherings should be about a rhythm of life, not a show.

Is it ok for corporate Worship to be a show? I guess that depends on how you define your terms. I thought it was pretty funny to look at Webster's definition for "show" and think about the church. I think #4 was my favorite, but #5a is pretty interesting too.
1: a demonstrative display show of strength>
archaic : outward appearance b: a false semblance : pretense show of friendship>
c: a more or less true appearance of something : sign d: an impressive display show — John Lahr> e: ostentation
: chance 2 show in spite of his background>
4: something exhibited especially for wonder or ridicule : spectacle
: a large display or exhibition arranged to arouse interest or stimulate sales show> b: a competitive exhibition of animals (as dogs) to demonstrate quality in breeding
6a: a theatrical presentation b: a radio or television program c: entertainment
: enterprise , affair show>
: third place at the finish (as of a horse race)
often capitalized : the major leagues in baseball —used with the

Welcome to the Worship Circus. We have the greatest show on earth, or at least a better one than the church down the road.

How does this make you feel?

The problem with this statement is that if you are part of a well programmed, highly visionary, talented church you take offense when someone criticizes all of the effort you have put into doing something well/excellent for your Lord.

And when you are a small church with a lousy praise team (if you have one at all), and Sunday after Sunday of slightly controlled chaos, you're offended by the shallowness of people who leave your congregation for what you call the greatest show in town. After all, you're doing the best you can with what you have. How will you ever get better if everyone keeps leaving for something else?

Isn't it good to do things well? And yet, isn't it superficial to leave one church and go to another because the music is better on Sunday morning?

I guess the question I'm asking myself today is this...

Would our church have a better "show" if we had more money and people, or would our service remain about the same regardless of our resources? What principles are guiding our corporate worship?

In another video Mr. Fitch speaks about being able to put together the service in 5 minutes, even if the people who were supposed to carry out the service are unable to show up.

How would your congregation and church leadership handle things if...

The piano player/band didn't show up?
The pastor was unable to speak? (ok...some of you are celebrating)
The projectors wouldn't work?
There was no power at all?

In part two I'll be working on figuring out what "non-attractional" corporate worship looks like.

Is that a synonym for ugly?


Kevin said…
Travis, great questions. I don't think worship should be a show. In fact, I would venture to say that if it's a show, it's not really worship. The two don't coexist.

There is a lot of entertainment-driven worship out there, and I think we have to consider what effect it has on the average churchgoer, not to mention those who lead worship. Specifically, I would suggest that it typically creates consumers rather than disciples and celebrities rather than leaders.
Infuse Me said…
Bottom line is that worship if done in "Spirit and in truth" is focused on lifing up Jesus. When he is lifed up He draws... He moves on the hearts of men.

So the group's "Job" is do participate in this activity with honesty and integrity. Not to be entertained, or "impressed".

And as worship leaders we need to keep an honest inventory of "Why". What are my motives, why the guitar solo? why the fancy graphics. If it is a destraction then it shouldn't be part of the service.

I play in a worship band and my most favorite part is sitting at home with just me and the piano worshiping Him. And our monthly mens meeting where we sing without instruments.

Kevin I totally agree that we are creating customers and not citizens. What happens when the music fades.... and all is stripped away....
johnnyGizmo said…
That is a great question. I have been involved in a Church for a little over a decade and play guitar in our praise band. We are a church of about 1000 in a community of 7000. I am fortunate to get to play with very talented musicians every week. But more than that, they have a desire to be excellent in their ministry and praise the Lord with their whole heart.

Are there shallow folks out there who do it for the spotlight? Sure. But that is not always the case.
Travis Penn said…
Johnny G,

I'm sure there may be a few who do it for the spotlight, but I'm more concerned about those who have good motives, but are trying to "tool" or utilize worship as an evangelistic mechanism.

In other words, our worship experience has to be top notch so that people will come back to hear the gospel.

But my problem with this is that when worship becomes anything else (Evangelistic tool, hook for the gospel, show, etc...) then it ceases to be worship, because it ceases to be totally about God. And true worship is totally about Him.

And yet, when people are worshipping in Spirit and in Truth, it's one of the most attractive things about the local church.

Thanks for commenting.
lotsamamma said…
I'm not sure that it's our place to judge whether it's a show or not ( or IF we can judge). We'll never know what's truly in people's hearts as they are leading worship.

I don't think there is anything wrong with using the latest technology to augment worship - God made us multisensory beings and it's a shame to not explore that more.

What I think we need to focus on more is that God made us all wonderfully different with different preferences...some people are going to prefer something more intimate and some are going to prefer something louder with more bells and whistles. That doesn't make either of them better or wrong, just different. It's part of the beautiful dichotomy of our God.

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