Worship: Not a Show

worship with illuminated bandMy son recently attended a Christian conference. During a time of worship, the “house” lights dimmed and colored spot lights illuminated the musicians up front. The leader began by saying, “We don’t want you to view this as a show…”

My son, sitting in the congregation, thought, If you don’t want us to view this as a show, then why the colored lights? He’s got a point.

Please understand that this is not a generational difference. My son is just twenty-one years old. He’s not an old guy like me. But he does recognize that the point of worship is to focus on God, not us.

As we discussed this experience, he made another observation. This obviously was not the first time that he was in a setting where the main lights were dimmed for worship. He expressed that it seemed odd since there won’t be any darkness in heaven. So for people who have always been in churches where the lights are dimmed for worship, heaven will seem even more foreign to them than it will to the rest of us. Another great point.

Maybe for all our talk of not making worship a show, often it has become one anyway. Perhaps it would be good to remove the emphasis from the people in the front, and, instead, direct our attention toward God.

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3 Responses to Worship: Not a Show

  1. rhoy says:

    hey there … a friend forwarded the link to your blog and I must say, I’m glad she did. definitely makes me think after reading a couple of your posts 🙂

  2. Alicia says:

    Hi Tom!- Great points as always in the blog..something I’ve always agreed with. So what do you think practically, would form a good worship service where the focus is on God as much as possible when musicians are present? What does this look like? In our church, the lights are dimmed, I think with good motives..to help folks not to worry about people around them. I honestly don’t notice the musicians up front even though there are soft colored lights that match the screens with the words. The worship is presented in such a way that you really want to meet with God. The people up front are pretty “out of the way”.
    Would love more practical thoughts..thanks!

    • Tom Kraeuter says:

      Thanks for asking the question. The dimmed house lights and flood lights on the platform can help create a “safe” environment where people are less concerned about others around them. More commonly, though, it offers a great potential for nonparticipation. Nobody’s watching. I can do what I want. More importantly, I don’t have to do what I don’t feel like doing right now: actively engaging in worship.

      Although we were created to worship God, our fleshly nature fights against it. So offering an atmosphere of non-involvement makes it easier for people to opt out.

      I am often asked by worship leaders, “How do we get our people to participate more in the worship service?” Unless it’s a public setting (where I don’t really want to embarrass them), my response is generally a series of questions: Do you dim the lights when the music starts? Does the lighting on the platform create a show-like atmosphere? Do you run the sound so loud that people can’t hear themselves sing? Do you do lots of new and difficult songs? And you want to know why people aren’t participating?

      This is, of course, only a really cryptic answer to your question. Wish I had more time and space. I am actually working on a book right now that will address many of these issues. Unfortunately, it won’t be ready for awhile. Sorry.

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