Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Performance Worship

There seems to be a new trend developing in “Praise and Worship” the past several years, and it is arguably not a good one. For the past three decades the “Worship Wars” have grown and developed, and one of the arguments that the more contemporary fans had on their side versus the hymn purists was approachability. Hymns were older and reflected at the very least a different musical taste and at times a complexity that made it hard for the average congregation to participate. The newer songs were written with normal people in mind. Everyone could participate and engage in worship.


The trend today has changed things. As Contemporary Christian artists began to notice worship’s popularity, the past decade has seen a huge increase in everyone releasing CDs of worship music. We have an overabundance of performance worship, and it has become hugely popular. Many people listen exclusively to this type of music. That in and of itself is not all bad, but the worship music has changed as a result. No longer are new praise songs sing-able by most people. In fact, some of the most popular songs today are not congregational songs at all. And with so many people passively worshiping with their iPods all the time—not to mention the increasing use of “seeker” services employing nearly professional level artists on stage—is it any wonder that fewer and fewer people are actively worshiping anymore?

It is hardly surprising that people are unable to imagine the simple house church practices of the early church anymore. How did they ever fit an entire worship ensemble with all those instruments in the living room anyway?


  1. LOL! We're certainly living in an interesting time.

  2. And what on earth did the neighbours used to say!?

    Out of interest, are there any songs left around from the early church days? At the moment I'm struggling to think of a passage that actually says they used to sing, which presumably they did given the amount of song and singing in the Bible as a whole :)

  3. There are passages in the NT that seem to be poetic expressions of teaching. They may have been sung. Thankfully, we have not been given any musical examples in the Bible, even in the Psalms. I like to think that shows us God is more concerned with the content of our worship than how it is expressed musically.

    As to examples of them singing, the first that spring to mind are Paul and Silas in prison (Acts 16:25) and Paul instructing the church to teach each other with songs. (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16)

  4. Remember how many of the songs sung in church in Chile were actually Scripture put to music? and so easily sung in a house church (always a guitar around in Chile)

  5. I agree. It's hard medicine to swallow when you realize what's been going on. Worship is a life poured out to God-- music is a glorious way to express that, but the attention has shifted from God to us. That's wrong. That's what's wrong.

    Also, the term "seeker" gets on my nerves, too.

  6. Ahh yes the never ending ever changing and growing worship debate. Actually I had written a whole essay in response but the short version is your right! One of the ways we have tried to battle this in our church is invlving multiple people imleading and changing it every week. Also we are always looking for diferent ways to incorporate all the arts so this week we might have a dance, next week a painter, the constant change helps remind me that personal preference and desire matter little rather God and His desires are our aim.


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