God is the Audience
I attended a district training event today, and the first session I participated in was called "Planning Authentic Worship." The presenter began the session explaining the common misconception about worship, and what worship ought to be. I think it was the key to much of his discussion, and his description of it brought many thoughts into line for me.
He said, and I've encountered this attitude, that we think of worship as a stage, with several "player" -- the worship leaders such as minister, music leader, choir, ushers, greeters, etc -- performing for the audience, who is the congregation.
He said worship was actually something different. On the "stage" is the congregation, not performing, but worshipping. The audience is God, and the worship leaders are the prompters. The job of the prompters is to help the "actors" -- the congregation -- to do their job well. The role of the prompters is to inspire worship.
This isn't a new concept for me, but it was explained very well by Don -- with great clarity. Hearing it explained so well brought several implications to mind.
- In a performance, do you "see" the prompters? No, not usually. Their role is to be almost invisible -- it is certainly not to be the center of the event. In worship, God is the center of the event, not the worship leaders, not the PowerPoint presentation, not the organ.
- When we see worship from the correct perspective, then we won't walk out of church judging the service. We leave worship hoping that we have done our job well -- that we have worshipped in a way pleasing to God.
- This kind of perspective requires that we accept responsibility as congregational members. We are not there to be entertained. We are there to worship God, and it will take effort on our part; effort that we are required to contribute.
- This perspective should function to make us less selfish in worship. If worship is not about 'me,' but is instead about God, then perhaps I will be more willing to be helpful. Perhaps I am more willing to place the needs of another congregational member in front of my own, so that that person can worship as well.
I liked that Don started with this change of view, because everything after it -- the kind of music one chooses, the way PowerPoint is used, the role of response -- doing all of it well is dependent upon understanding this one concept. Understand it, and it all falls into place.
Image: Window in Kenova UMC. Second image - Someone's husband insisted that his wife's cake have the number of candles corresponding with her age. It's a wonder we didn't burn the restaurant down. I'm reminded of a scene from Murphy's romance. She is trying to get James Garner's character to tell her his age so that she can put the right number of candles on his cake. He says, "Just set the whole d*** thing on fire."