Note: I started writing this post in early March, I am just having time to finish these thoughts.
In the last two weeks I have: one, hosted an Open Mic, and two, I have played in two of them. I must say, I was definitely a new and cool experience.
For those who do not know what an open mic is- it is exactly as it is called, an open mic where people can put their name on a list and at their time come up and perform their act; be it music, poetry, comedy, whatever. Most open mics take place in coffee shops, bars, and restaurant and it is a great place for people to try out new material and test new song. The performers are not paid, and the audience did not pay to see any particular person…
Performing scares the heck out of me.
I have lead worship for various groups of people in different capacities for the last 10 year (I just realized how long I have been doing this-I ought to be better…). I have done small groups of 3-4 people to crowds of 250+ people, spanning all age groups. Leading and playing worship and praise music does not scare me. But presenting music that is not worship makes me as nervous as public speaking. Performing personal and “secular” music scares me.
My hands and feet sweat like no other. My heart races. I fumble and bumble all my words. For me performing is ages different than worship in all aspects.
Performing is personal- I can not hide behind the words I am singing because the words I am sing are a reflection of expressions of my mind and soul. They are me showing the world what I want to say, yet at the same time I am putting on a show for people.
In worship, I am not putting on a show for people. I am trying to create a place people can engage in worship of God, for God. The focus is not on me, I must not be on me. When it come about me and my skill and my performance, then the heart of worship is loss- I have become a distraction to those I am trying to lead into worship.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t thing you can separate performance from worship- they inherently come hand in hand. A bad performance can be distracting to worship. And a good, over the top performance can be just as distracting. I am saying performance must be appropriate to the setting. Also, let me say that I do not believe worship is constrained to music; worship is a lifestyle- it is the way you live your life and engage those around us. Worship does not occur only when the music is playing and the congregation is singing, but when the Church is living a life of love and grace and bearing witness to God.
I do not perform non “worship” music often. I do not have the venue nor the desire to seek it out. I do enjoy performing because I can express myself without fear of distracting people from engaging in reflection and worship. I am still not able to perform any of my personal work, but one day I hope can and will do so.
~May my worship and music before you God. May I not be a distraction to those around me and those I am leading. May the words and noises I make be pleasing to Your ears. Amen.