Friday, January 14, 2011

Lights, Camera, BLOG!

Last night I was lying in bed, with my three kiddos cuddling up around me, and my mind began to drift. I found myself have a deep, intellectual conversation with... well... myself.
It started when I thought about an amazing Christian woman I know. She can sing like no one else and loves to dress up when she does it. I overheard someone say recently that this woman was to "performancy". I have heard that many times from Christians. They go to church hope for a deep worship experience and they feel like they sat thru a show instead of engaging. I am sure I have even said it myself.

I began to wonder what makes a Christian musician, singer, actor, etc come off too "performancy". It shouldn't be because they got dressed up, or because the band was amazing, or because there was incredible light show. It shouldn't be because it looked professional or polished. God is worthy of all those things. God deserves the very best of our talent and that is represented in the rehearsal time and the creativity. There are amazing lights because someone felt inspired to do that. The band was amazing because they put the time into their craft to be amazing! I think what people are actually feeling when they use the "p" word is a disconnect. Maybe they don't feel like the person they are watching has a heart that engaged to what God wants to do in the moment or maybe they themselves cannot engage.

I think that may be our real problem. How do we engage and help those we are trying to minister to engage. I have written and directed many Christian plays over the last 10 years and I am sure those closest to me get tired of hearing me say over and over. I don't want anything that I spend the church's (God's) resources on to be like an art house flick. Meaning, I don't want people to be able to spend hours discussing what the message might have been or what we might have meant. Or worse have them not care or not be touched! I want the message to be crystal clear. And if people are going to talk afterwards I want them to spend hours talking about God! I want every heart, from every background to UNDERSTAND the message. If people come to something that volunteers have spent hours rehearsing and a lot of God's money has been spent I feel it would be a shame if they weren't quite sure what we meant or what the message was. I want people to engage!

I believe the same goes for worship leaders and worship bands. I think sometimes we have to simplify so that every person in the congregation can truly engage. There's that word again. I don't mean engage in the over head projector because there are so many words or engage in the worship leader because that leader is singing so fancy or switching so many octaves that no one can sing along. I mean engage their hearts. Worship leaders are called as such because God has allowed them to carry the Holy mantle of leading His people to worship Him. And what a mantle it is. Time and time again praise is used in the Bible. In fact praise is mentioned more than prayer! Praise brought down the wall of Jericho. Praise is what God says he INHABITS. And that is just what the people coming to church on Sunday need. Every single week. They need God, they need His Spirit, and they need victory. Is this where we are leading them?

This brings me to the second part. And that is, making sure that if we are going to serve God in a creative way and put His message out there we need to make sure we are sensitive to Him and what He is saying. It is a fine balance. The Bible says play skillfully unto the Lord ,so yes, we should rehearse, we should brainstorm, we should pray, be polished, be good, be brilliant, and creative! We should work on what God has given us to serve Him. It so exciting! With Him who knows what we can do, who we can touch. We can write amazing songs, lead powerful services, put on mind blowing dramas, and see lives changed! The possibilities are endless. But only if we are going were He is going. If we try to hard to steer the ship we are in a losing battle.

So after the long hours of rehearsal, after the well thought out plan we have to step into whatever God calls us to do with an open hand...LISTENING. If He wants to change the song, change it. If He wants to sing the chorus 15 times, sing it and watch lives be changed. If he wants you to be quiet, be quiet and hear Him speak. Your faithfulness along with His annointing will make you unstoppable!


andy said...

Well said Marleen :o)

Each of us performs everyday. Whether we drive, speak, sing, work, it's all performance. So everyone who shows up on a Sunday is performing whether they turn on a light, shake someone's hand, speak, sing, or play an instrument.

So if we're all performing, then who are we performing for? Really, our friends and the people in the seats are not the audience, they are also performers. He is the true audience. If we show up and perform thinking it's for the people who aren't on the platform, we miss an important aspect of worship - who it's for.

As for the skill issue, there are plenty of people who perform unskillfully (remember the lady in Atlanta who played the same chord over and over for an entire song?). There are more people however who show up and perform without fully giving themselves to the material and they're basically regurgitating something they've seen or heard, trying to do it just like so and so. Art (and worship) is about giving ourselves completely to the material. There is a town in China where more than 60% of the world's oil paintings are produced, most of them copies of artworks. That's not art that's just painting. So too, if we just show up and sing or play a song, recite a sermon or prayer, or mindlessly greet others, we lose the value of the art (worship).

And what is art worth really? It's worth whatever someone will pay. If we're there for the people in the seats, then it's worth what they spent ($1, $5, 10% of their income) which is "not much." But if we understand who our audience really is (Him) and what He paid (everything) the value of true worship (our spiritual art) is immeasurable.



Love it Andy! As I was writing the blog I was thinking how it does play into all other aspects of life.

Melody said...

Beautifully said. I wish I could see your shows. We did a show at church last March called "The Ten Virgins". It was not professional quality, but it was moving and I think we all really enjoyed putting it on. Here's the script:
This is a clip of a group from Australia doing the show.
I wish we had more ideas because I love doing shows like this.


Thanks for the links Melody! I will check them out. I am really going to focus on doing more shows this year.