Evangelical Music/Worship

Greg Strand – May 21, 2014 5 Comments

Jamie Brown recently attended the National Worship Leader Conference and he wrote about his reflections: Are We Headed For A Crash? Reflections On The Current State of Evangelical Worship.


What he observed, he concludes, was performancism and it troubled him.


It’s the theme of performancism. The worship leader as the performer. The congregation as the audience. The sanctuary as the concert hall.


It really is a problem. It really is a thing. And we really can’t allow it to become the norm. Worship leaders, we must identify and kill performancism while we can.


It’s not rocket science.


Sing songs people know (or can learn easily). Sing them in congregational keys. Sing and celebrate the power, glory, and salvation of God. Serve your congregation. Saturate them with the word of God. Get your face off the big screen. Use your original songs in extreme moderation. Err on the side of including as many people as possible in what’s going on. Keep the lights up. Stop talking so much. Don’t let loops/lights/visuals become your outlet for creativity at the expense of the centrality of the gospel. Point to Jesus. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Don’t sing songs with bad lyrics or weak theology. Tailor your worship leading, and the songs you pick, to include the largest cross-section of your congregation that you can. Lead pastorally.


Two brief comments.


First, to be fair, what he attended was not a corporate worship service, so it is not completely accurate to draw hard and fast conclusions from a conference designed for this purpose to the local church. But what often happens is that whatever one experiences at such a conference or event, that experience is brought back and superimposed on the corporate worship service in the local church. That can and often does become problematic. Rather than something like this being the model for who the corporate church is and what the corporate church does, since we are an outpost of heaven we reflect now what is happening there, since, according to Hebrews, “you have come” (Heb. 12:22-24). 


Second, the conference and the title refer to “Worship Leader” and “Evangelical Worship.” In both instances the term “worship” refers primarily to music. And yet, biblical worship consists of much more than this: praying and preaching to name just two. One of the problems is that the definition and understanding of worship have become reductionistic. Many good books have written about this, and it is vital to bear in mind.


What do you think of this assessment?

Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

5 responses to Evangelical Music/Worship

  1. Greg, recently 9Marks Journal, the journal put out by 9Marks ministry, on offshoot of Mark Dever’s ministry at Capitol Hill Baptist Church had a very fine symposium on music in worship. It included Presbyterians as well as Baptists and is applicable to all evangelicals. Here’s the link


    • Thank you, John. I saw the Journal and read some of the articles. It is a very good resource on this topic.

  2. The major “instrument” of church music should be the voices of the congregation. Excessive use of electronic amplification ruins this.

    • Thank you for your reply, Bob. I agree – one of the things God’s people do when they gather corporately is to express their belief (God’s Word), their faith, their hope, their trust, etc. through song. Furthermore, Paul informs us that from the foundation of “the Word of Christ dwell[ing] in you richly,” we are to sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God,” and it is through these means that we engage in the ministry of “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16).

  3. Thank you, Greg. Too many American churches allow technology too much influence over their worship practices (which wind up driving their worship theology).

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