Thursday, April 30, 2015

Worship as Performance


Institutional worship is something done to you, in front of you, or for you, but not by you. The congregants come as passive recipients, unconsciously thinking, “I hope this is good today.” People arriving for corporate worship in this frame of mind can leave worship as unmoved as when they arrived. After all, pastors are paid to put together the order of worship, exude charisma, insert moving musical selections, and then preach a stirring message. Since the dynamic is essentially a performer-audience relationship, the worshipers are put in the position of being critics of the latest pastoral effort.
Somehow we don’t think it unusual for the remarks at the door after a church service to focus on evaluating the morning message or worship service. This audience-performer mentality had become so much a part of our mind-set that George Plagenz, who wrote a weekly column for a Cleveland newspaper, took to rating the quality of worship. Churches dreaded this clandestine reporter sneaking in and slipping out of worship, for the next day a review of their service would appear in the local newspaper.

Greg Ogden, Unfinished Business: Returning the Ministry to the People of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010).

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