I cringed as she grabbed the Samson wireless mic with the oversized red muff and stepped onto the stage. It’s had been about 6 months since she was last up there, so I guess she was due. As the background track began, I pushed myself back into the pew, put the death grip on the arm rest, and prepared myself for the next 4 minutes. It was not going to be pretty.
Many of you have been there. It happens at churches all over this world, big and small. People who should never sing on a stage getting the spotlight, because it’s church. You know, we’ll take anyone. But the lesson that I learned that day has come back again and again: Know who is being encouraged.
Are the performers on your stage there to encourage the people in the seats or is it the other way around. (yeah, yeah, yeah. I know they’re all there to sing for an audience of One. duh. But who’s being encouraged.) The way your team answers this question is paramount in determining the mission of your weekend service.
In my before mentioned experience, the not-ready-for-prime-time soprano was truly encouraged by getting her opportunity to shine, and the church family that had seen her grow up was happy to oblige. However, any visitors that might have wandered in that weekend didn’t see this moment in its historical context. If the performer on the stage was encouraged, the audience supplied the encouragement.
In some churches there is a very stringent worship team auditioning process, that requires the right look, the right sound, the right hand movements… And 99.9% of the people who can hold a note are disqualified from performing on the Mount Midoriyama of worship. (who doesn’t love American Ninja Warrior?) In this setting the audience is encouraged & the pros or semi-pro worship team dishes it out.
Here’s the deal. You can’t do both at once. Your audience desires consistency in this area. Either they expect a family feel where community is valued & individuals feel lifted up or there’s a more performance level event where they can invite their friends and not be embarrassed. The hard part is that each Church is different. Both Churches need to exist. But, you need to pick one. And you will need to be ready to defend your choice over, and over and over again. So choose wisely.
What direction has your church chosen? What are the pros & cons? Have you ever seen both styles exist together?