Grimacing Musically: Why Musicians Should Wear an Apron

http://twitter.com/#!/jonwellman/status/58724297631481856

I am Bloom County fan.

For those who don’t know, Bloom County was a comic strip from a few years ago that featured a penguin named Opus and a cat named Bill (you may have seen them on greeting cards).

The comic had a story line once about another character, Steve Dallas, who was trying to get rich by starting a rock band (musicians, insert your own joke here).

When he advertised for musicians for this band, he listed two skills potential band members needed for consideration. Prospects needed the ability to…

  1. Play three chords, and…
  2. Grimace musically.

Jump to 2011.

As I tweeted, Bon Jovi played Saturday Night Live a while back. Bon Jovi’s music is as catchy as music gets, in my opinion. If I merely mention Living on a Prayer, many of my readers will tune out the rest of this post and begin mentally jamming to the opening lick (don’t deny it). So, this is by no means an indictment of the music.

But I noticed something I never noticed before.

At the end of the song, Jon (of the Bon Jovi clan) sang the last note, played the last chord, raised his guitar into the air, grimaced musically, and struck a pose.

That made me very glad I sing for Jesus. Ain’t no way I could pull that off.

Unfortunately, I see this in churches today. And it breaks my heart.

I want to be very careful not to judge motives. But as someone who leads music and who continues to work on aspects of my delivery in so doing, I believe that a connection with those in the congregation during corporate worship is essential if there is to be unity in worship. We on the platform cannot isolate ourselves, drift off into our own closed-eyed Spirit-filled moment, and leave everyone else to fend for themselves.

Yet I have seen churches online or worship services at conferences where the musicians play and sing as if it’s a show (wrote about that subject here).

We can do this with the way we sing by not engaging those in the seats singing with us, but we can also do it by picking music that makes it impossible for others to sing along.

This past Sunday, I pulled a song from our Morning Worship because it was printed in a key higher than we usually sing. I knew that few people in our congregation would be able to hit those notes, so we didn’t do the song.

When we do a new song at church, we do it for three weeks. Minimum. That way, we…

  1. Introduce it
  2. Learn it
  3. Sing it together

I heard somewhere we should arrive at church, not wearing a bib for consuming, but wearing an apron for serving. When we lead praise and worship, our actions, motives, and intentions should be Godly and not in any way self-seeking (of course, the same is true for those in the congregation, but that’s another blog post). God is the show.

Thoughts?

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4 thoughts on “Grimacing Musically: Why Musicians Should Wear an Apron

  1. I appreciate what you mean about not judging people. Ironically you talk about the grimace. My friends and I were talking about this recently. When our band goes out and plays a “show” of sorts rather than just a straight up worship gathering it is the time we perform less, even though we jump around more.

    The fact is, we perform when we lead worship because we mellow out a bit. When it’s just me and the lord, it’s more jumping and grimacing. When it’s me and the congregation, I back off a bunch for the sake of the group. Some people have been challenging me lately that I am not authentic in my worship when I back off.

    Food for thought eh?

    1. That is an interesting take. I think there is a line where performing = being fake. Fact is, we ALL perform in front of people. The Bible speaks of the temple musicians as highly trained and skilled. We ought to prepare and present a rehearsed and thought-out worship service.
      I would prefer to think of it as “dying to self.” When we lead, we use our clarity and communication to encourage and draw in the congregation. We forgo our own free expression of worship to allow others to take part.
      Only I know whether or not I am being authentic when I am on the platform. If my personal worship has happened the other 6 days of the week, I’m good.
      Thank for your thoughts!

  2. Yep, I always talk to my musicians and worship leaders about how they can’t “check out.” When they close their eyes the whole time, they miss what God may be doing in the room. In some ways we have to sacrifice some of our personal worship in order to help others.

    Of course if we cut loose in our private worship it doesn’t have to be an either or thing.

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