the weblog of Alan Knox

Moving Away from Performance Mentality

Posted by on Jul 6, 2010 in blog links, edification, gathering | 4 comments

Moving Away from Performance Mentality

Steve Burchett writes a very thought-provoking article called “From First Baptist Church to a House Church.” Steve is one of the elders of a church of house churches in Kansas City called Christ Fellowship. In the section below, he is describing the difference between meeting together for mutual edification and what is typically seen in church meetings:

[In their house church meetings] People are usually not hesitant to participate because no one is expected to “wow” the group with a great performance. A spirit of grace pervades our gatherings as we seek to be led by the Spirit.

The main weekly meeting of a building-based church is usually significantly choreographed. Whether it is a liturgical service or more contemporary, the order of the meeting is not only known in advance, but the hope is that each element will come off looking excellent—even professional. The expectations for a “great” service are often so high that the leadership feels defeated if the music didn’t noticeably move people, or the praying wasn’t eloquent, or the technology miscued, or the transitions between the various parts of the service were awkward. And, above all else, some pastors sit in their studies on Monday and contemplate quitting if their sermon the previous day seemed flat. Success is dependent on a select few who too often fail to live up to the desires of those who sit and spectate.

I am not adverse to just listening when appropriate. In First Corinthians 14, Paul is primarily pleading with the church to meet together “in an orderly manner” (v. 40). Part of orderliness is letting people take their turn (vv. 27-33) and learning from them (v.31), but participation by more than just a few is expected. The result is that a “performance mentality” is removed as the various members of the body come ready to serve and receive from the others.

I’ve been part of traditional church “worship services” and I’ve been part of participatory meetings for mutual edification. His descriptions parallel my experiences with both. What do you think?


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  1. 7-6-2010

    I have even heard it said that the people leading “must do our best for God.” If things don’t go well that mentality leaves you feeling not only that you have let down the people, but God as well. That can hit pretty hard.

  2. 7-6-2010

    I can speak from personal experience that delivering the sermon week after week is exhausting mentally and emotionally. The whole “worship” experience of the local church body rests on your sermon. I have delviered some pretty good performances from the pulpit in my time but I never felt like it was good enough. Little wonder so many men leave vocational ministry every year.

  3. 7-6-2010


    There’s a movement (especially among larger church groups) that calls for everything to be done with “excellence.” I prefer for people to be real… warts and all.


    Yes, I preached those sermons as well.


  4. 7-6-2010

    I certainly have seen first hand what “excellence” can do to a church body… and how detrimental it can be to the workings of the Holy Spirit, the heart of the people and ‘least of these’ and spiritual journey of all that are striving with their own efforts. I am excited that we have stepped away from the performance and although we are very much feeling some withdrawel symptoms — we are so thankful to be away from the noise and no longer addicted to the performance. I know that God can use all things for our good — including the Sunday only church thing… but I’m so thankful I’m passed that stage in my journey. So ready to experience the now with our new friends we are journeying with! 🙂