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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Pastors and People #4

Rock Star vs. Pastor Observation #2

More on the Pastor as Rock Star conversation : : :

Pastors, unlike rock stars, need to beware of perceptions with the “show.” Rock stars can go all out with their aesthetic and dramatic presentation of their message. Yet, for the pastor, some believe our “performance” should be free from bells and whistles because those things are shallow—if it looks like a rock show it is sometimes suspect.

The screaming people usually seen at a rock show? Not appropriate for some. Don’t use too much volume in the church either. 

I have spent most of my professional ministry career as the music guy. I have done my fair share of speaking, leadership development, counseling, and the likes but I am known in most circles as the music guy. Music guys or gals (artists, songwriters, performers) can jump up and down, wear rock star clothes, and play guitar solos just about anywhere and it will be accepted—anywhere but the worship service.

Now, I understand the difference between the rock show and the worship service. Worship is not about me. It is not about drawing attention to myself. It is not about showcasing my talent with the worship service as my platform for self-promotion.

But, what is a music leader/pastor to do when his conscious is clear and his motivation is Jesus yet perceptions of his motivation are contrary (by some)?

When I was barely 30 years old, I was leading worship in a church in California for a congregation of about 800 people or so. The exact number of attendees is not important. What is important to know is the position was relatively high profile. It’s also important to know I have never been accused of being withdrawn or introverted. 

The church had a common practice of taking comments and suggestions. Sometimes they were very helpful to us. Most of the time they were not. The good comments were often empty flattery that gave us big heads and the bad comments were usually rude and sometimes in the guise of a prayer request in order to somehow soften the blow or justify the anger.

Actual comments included : : :

  • “We are praying earnestly that so-and-so begins seeking the heart of God and stops acting in an ungodly manner.”
  • “I am praying that the pastor understands the volume needs to come down because God is not deaf.”
  • “Our prayers are with pastor x that he will start acting in a way more fitting for a follower of Jesus.”

To make matters worse, most of the mean ones didn’t sign their name.

My favorite unsigned comment I have ever received was a crude stage diagram complete with stick figures of band members and a reworking of the current stage layout. The diagram suggested a new arrangement of people and instruments so that attention was not on the band but instead on God. The bottom of the comment card had the words IT’S ABOUT JESUS! !!!

The stick figure representing me was in the back corner of the stage.

Thanks for the help. I’ll take that into consideration.

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