Several years ago I wrote an article for The Worship Community titled “Is There A Place For Performance In Worship?” This was a challenge to musicians and singers to embrace the simple fact that by definition all musicians and singers are performers. You see, we render music by singing and playing, which is the most basic definition for the word perform.
There are other flavors of the word perform, which aren’t fully relevant to this discussion, but generally speaking people tend to shy away from the idea that they can worship AND perform at the same time. Or, better said, they can USE their performance, as an offering of worship and to help others worship.
Music IS a performance, because without a performer, there would be no music. And without a SKILLED performer, there would be no GOOD music!
There is NO place in worship for performance if…
If you find your identity in performance, and not IN CHRIST, then there is no place for performance in worship. Because that flavor of performance is a different definition, and one that we apply to actors.
Perform: 4. to act (a play, part, etc.), as on the stage, in movies, or on television. (dictionary.com)
This definition of performance is all about taking on the identity of someone or something that you aren’t. It’s wearing a mask so that people begin to believe you are someone or something else.
You see God wants to give us our identity. He doesn’t want us to find it in things that are outside of HIM. When we find our identity in the Father, through Christ, we are able to “perform” authentically. We are able to walk in obedience, in HIS identity for us, and not in our own striving.
When the performance becomes an idol to us, when we find more satisfaction in how good we play or sing, or how great a worship set is, or even how much response we get from our congregations, that’s when we’re doing it wrong. That’s when the performance is the wrong kind of performance.
We move away from just MAKING (rendering) the music, to actually allowing it to become an idol.
Worship musicians, take time today to check in with the Holy Spirit. Ask the Spirit to nudge you in areas where your eyes might be fixed on the wrong things. Ask God to do HIS work in you. Listen to what GOD is saying about your identity. Find your identity in HIM!
Russ Hutto is the Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church, where he mentors, oversees and helps lead Family and Student worship environments. He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community.