worship performance

Is There A Place For Performance in Worship?

Russ Hutto: What does the word perform even mean? Is it a bad word?

Growing up as a kid of the church (my dad was a youth pastor, worship leader, pastor), I’ve heard just about every church cliche you can think of. Being a youth pastor and media/music pastor myself for most of my adult life, has also led to me probably BEING some of those cliches at times.

I think one of the most misused, yet well-intentioned churchy phrases is “Worship is not a performance.” Most of the times (if not all) it’s used when talking about the quality or excellence of our worship MUSIC. I definitely agree that worship itself is not a performance. But I believe when we in the church use the cliche we’re talking about the music we use to worship (not worship itself).

For the record, I agree with the general heart behind that cliche. We don’t worship for our own glory, or for the glory of our bands, or even our church. We worship to glorify God. Period.

But I wanted to break down the idea a little bit and present a different angle.

As a trained and fairly skilled musician (almost 30 years experience on trumpet, and all of my high school and adult years on piano, drums, guitar + studied music theory & composition in college) I’m aware of what it takes to be a “good” performer. My entire “school” experience was based on practicing endlessly, then coming together to rehearse daily, and then being a part of performances, the goal of which was to be as close to perfect as possible. It was all about the performance.

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