This weekend, our youth worship band led worship for our church. They played as well as I’ve heard them play and it did not feel like a “show off the youth day” and more of a normal worship service with younger musicians. But later on I was visiting with the band members and one of my youth said that after the service he asked one of the ladies in the congregation, “Did you enjoy the show?”
This reminded me of a concept that has been around a long time. That is, the difference between performance and worship. Music and song have been elements of worship for thousands of years. And as with any performance, music performed in worship should be played skillfully (Psalm 33). But the context of the performance must be considered. In a regular concert, the performer is playing for the pleasure and approval of the audience. In worship, though, the performer is playing for the pleasure and approval of God. The music should be excellent and inspiring to the audience, but the approval of the audience should not be a driving force.
In the book of I Corinthians, Paul tells the church at Corinth to do all things to the glory of God. So whether our performance is under the umbrella of “worship” or not, it should be excellent. But when we are leading worship, we are playing for an audience of one.