2. In performance, those on stage might be the only ones singing. In worship, everyone should be singing along.
There have been a lot of articles written recently about the decline in participation when churches are worshiping through music. We’d do well to heed what they’re telling us.
If you think you’re leading in worship but no one is singing along, you’re not leading, you’re performing.
3. In performance, the words should support the melody. In worship, the melody should support the words.
Have you ever had a favorite song that you knew all the words to, then were appalled or confused when you paused to consider the lyrics? That’s because great performance-based songs are primarily about the melody, not the words.
In worship, it’s the opposite. Words matter first.
Even when groups like the Grammy Awards make their categories, worship music is the only musical genre delineated by lyrical content, not musical style.
This is also why it’s harder to write a great worship song. When you’re writing a song for performance, you only need a great musical structure. If you also have great lyrics, it’s a bonus (and it can make your song a classic), but it’s not needed.
A great worship song needs strong lyrics and music that enhances them. But the lyrics must lead the music, not vice versa. That’s hard to do. But it’s essential.
4. In performance, the integrity of the musicians is secondary. In worship, the integrity of the musicians is essential.
Some of the greatest musicians in history were scoundrels. From Mozart, to Jerry Lee Lewis, to Ozzy Osbourne.
Until recently (in cases like R. Kelly), not only has their bad behavior not tarnished their reputation, it’s often enhanced the public’s interest in them and their songs.
Not so in worship music.
When you’re leading people in worship, it matters that you’re living a life of faith and integrity.
A few years ago there was a big debate about whether-or-not it’s okay to have unbelievers playing on the worship team in church. It’s stunning that we had that conversation. How can someone lead others in worship if they’re not worshipers themselves? You can’t lead people to a place you’re not going.