Wed 03 Feb, 2016

More from Catalyst Festival…

What's the role of performance in worship times?

Jonny Mellor / #catalyst festival, #performance, #poetry

Finally, I’ve had a chance to see Steve’s performance from the Monday night meeting at Catalyst Festival and I can see what all the fuss was about.

Lyrically excellent. Authentically and skilfully delivered. Worship inciting. Mind engaging. This is great. (The band provide very sensitive and helpful accompaniment too- online high fives all round)

What I think I like most (and remember I’m just going from the video as I didn’t see him perform it live) is how he moves seamlessly from ‘eyes closed-lost in worship- it’s just me and God-Sunday meeting contribution’ to ‘eyes open- whole body- performance’. He mixes this up perfectly and gets the balance between all eyes on me performer and all eyes on God worshipper just right.

I think this is a balance we need to learn to live with. Traditionally, the type of church I’ve been involved in (Charismatic evangelical) has been very suspicious of performances creeping into our ‘worship times’. The minute someone contributes to a meeting in a way that seems to attract attention to themselves,  people often get a little tetchy. Are they wanting to steal glory from God? Do they want to break the worship spell and make me open my eyes and recognise that this meeting is not actually just me and Jesus? Aren’t only prophets allowed to do that?

That depiction may be slightly cheeky, but it’s probably not massively wide of the mark for many in churches like ours. The thing is- the biblical mandate is that people should contribute to Christian gatherings in a way that strengthens and builds up the church (1 Corinthians 12:12, 14:26) and that does not preclude unapologetic performance pieces in the times when we gather. I’ve personally found some times when, while lost in worship, if you pardon that expression, a public prayer or prophetic word has acted as a kind of soundtrack in the background of my personal connection with God- that has built me up and strengthened me. At other times though, I’ve also been built up, strengthened, and inspired in gung ho, sing your heart out worship, by someone interrupting me from my pious worship pose by doing a performed piece that demands my attention and the exercise of my intellectual faculties (which is as true if someone reads out a lengthy chunk of Romans as if they grab the mic and perform a 2 minute song/rap/spoken word piece/dance).

So over to you guys. Performances in worship times?

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