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A Pastoral Perspective On Differences Between Congregational And Concert Style Praise and Worship

The influence and popularity of modern praise and worship music have led many in the church to wonder if it is a good thing. Many churches are now programming their service's praise and worship component to reflect what they see in concerts or online. In my opinion, this has led to confusion about the role each should play in the church. I also believe it has shifted the focus of praise and worship in many churches and has taken away from the congregational intention that scripture outlines. I also think too many worship leaders and musicians try to emulate what they see in these concert settings rather than focusing on the importance of praise and worship in the church.

Now, before I get much further into this post, I will say I am not against the concert style and am not critical of those in the church who provide concerts. This can be a significant ministry to the church, and there are times for it. So, I am not saying to get rid of it.


For background purposes, I started ministry as a worship leader and have led extensively in congregational and concert settings. As a pastor, I still play on the worship team and occasionally lead worship.


So let's look at some differences between praise and worship in a church setting compared to a concert setting.


Note: I recognize that some of this is subjective. I also understand that the focus outlined below for leaders who lead in concert settings varies. This is more of my thoughts and conclusions from the general observations and experiences.


the difference between praise and worship and concerts


Differences Between Congregational And Concert Style Praise and Worship



PERFORMANCE OR CONCERT-STYLE PRAISE AND WORSHIP SETTINGS

  • Are often performance-based.

  • The Focus is often divided between seeing Jesus and Musicians/Singers. Yes, most musicians/singers would say the focus is Christ, but the setting often leads to the crowd focusing on the band.

  • It is Musician and Singer-led in that it is about their music, songs, and especially the songs they wrote.

  • Often, the stage is the only participatory group, with the crowd becoming more of an observation group.

  • The musical structure is critical and emphasized and is arranged for the skills to shine.

    • Skill is essential, which gives little space for novices.

    • Arrangements are set with little room for flexibility.

    • Song Keys, Style, and Selection are set for the strengths of the musicians/singers.

  • The integrity of the Musician/Singer can sometimes be secondary.

    • Humility is not always an important trait.

  • Virtuoso Flourishes and Soloing are necessary to enhance the performance.

    • Standing out is part of the performance.

    • Modesty (not only dress, but stage behaviour, etc) is not often emphasized.

  • Sometimes doctrine and theological correctness are set aside for the music or performance. The songs are more musically based rather than biblically sound.

  • There are committed Musicians/Singers but not necessarily committed Christians.

  • Think and plan for the band.

  • The crowd wants a good show.


CONGREGATIONAL PRAISE AND WORSHIP SETTING

  • The Focus must always Jesus.

  • It is Holy Spirit led with an emphasis on songs that glorify and exalt God and encourage the congregation.

  • Everyone is encouraged and expected to participate in a congregational setting. It is not just a stage activity.

  • The melody fits and supports the words. The lyrics lead the music.

  • Doctrine is critical. Are the songs doctrinally sound?

  • Musical Structure is secondary and should emphasize the spirit of the service with strong consideration for the congregation.

    • Certainly, the praise team should strive for excellence, but people's focus should be on Jesus, not the music.

    • Keys, Style, and Selection are set for the congregation's strengths.

    • Virtuoso Flourishes and Soloing should be minimal and intentional for the service.

  • Standing out is not to be part of the performance.

  • Modesty is necessary for all aspects.

  • The integrity of the Musician/Singer is essential.

  • Humility is necessary.

  • Each member should be a committed Worshiper and committed Christian.

  • Pick songs for the congregation.

  • Think and plan for the congregation. Does it fit the congregational setting?

  • The congregation should leave encouraged, with their attention on Christ, and their faith strengthened.



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