As we begin to wind down our “Less Is More” series here at CMT, I’d like for us to look at how our performance can play a role in worship leading. I believe that the performance trap is one of the biggest obstacles that a worship leader and / or worship ministry can face on a regular basis. We can be tempted to judge the success or failure of a worship service on how well we perform during the service. Were all of the lyrics displayed properly? Did the band execute the key change correctly? Did I forget to repeat the chorus? Did I come in too early? Oh man, I forgot to take care of that this week! Does the guitarist have the chords for that song? Nope, I blew that! I forgot to talk to that family this week. I hope they are alright. They probably think I am a hypocrite up here.
Any host of things can go through our mind during the worship service that can help color how we view the success or failure of the worship service. The reality is that we all have baggage. The question is do we try to mask the baggage by more and more performing or by resting in the ONE who is able to carry our baggage for us? Our people need to see that we are real people and not perfect performers. Our lives are messy like theirs. It is not how you or I perform from Sunday to Sunday that makes our worship acceptable. It is Jesus alone that makes our worship acceptable. Look at what 1 Peter 2:4-5 has to say about this…
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
No amount of brilliant media slides, flawless vocal runs, laser light shows, skinny jeans (I had to say that), or anything for that matter can make our worship acceptable except JESUS. It is Jesus alone who takes our meager, flawed offerings of praise and perfects them. He is our only hope for acceptable worship. Here is what the writer of Hebrews says in chapter 10:19-22…
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
So why do you and I spend week after week judging our services by what we do or don’t do? The real question we should be asking each week is “Am I trusting in Jesus’ finished work on the cross as my only standing place?” Our righteousness is filthy before Him. He is perfect righteousness. Sure, we need to give our very best to God. We need to work hard, but not to be accepted. We are already accepted in Him. We need to work to remember our lyrics, we need to help the choir learn their notes, and we need to seek to plan thoughtfully and thematically. We need to be in the Word, pray, and worship God daily during the week. However, at the end of the day we must realize that our greatest efforts to impress God with our performances will come up empty. There is no need for us to be continually in search of bigger and better, Jesus blew that out of the water when He rose again! A dead man coming back to life…now that is a command performance!
We must stop trusting in our ability to create the perfect atmosphere of worship or design the greatest worship service ever and rest more deeply in the fact that Jesus has paid it all and proclaim that over… and over… and over again.
What are your thoughts? Comments are welcome.