We live in an era and a culture where churches all over the world are now filled with stage lights, million dollar sound systems, and several cameras. On the surface, it can seem as if the whole situation were a concert, but underneath, there’s a difference between true worship and a performance.
I’ve seen many different types of worship teams, from the ones who can play songs exactly like the studio version to the teams who only play chords, but can flow well. I’ve also seen the teams who can both play well and flow well. Sometimes we make the mistake in assuming that the more “rehearsed” it is, the more it’s like a performance. The real truth is much deeper than that.
Whether something has been practiced to perfection or the team is playing together for the first time that service, the difference between worship and a performance comes from what’s going on between the worship team and the congregation.
Performers feed off the energy from the crowd. The screaming fans fuel a performer’s ability to play and sing music. A worshipper gets their energy from the Holy Spirit and then uses that energy to pour out to the congregation. A real worshipper will keep going even if the people aren’t responding. A big indicator lies in the flow of energy.
I don’t have anything against performers, but in the end, worshippers are the ones who can pull down the presence of God.