Every once in a while I come across an older post and think: “Anthony, that was some mighty fine write’n! You should re-post that.” So, that’s what I’m doing today. This was first published in 2011.
I have been playing music since my early years. Even before I could play an instrument, I would often sing with my mom and dad at different church services and revivals. So, especially with all the later experience of playing with 7 different groups over 25+ years, I should know a little about being on stage.
One of the things about playing music in front of a large audience is the adrenalin rush you get when everything goes just right, especially when the crowd responds with thunderous applause. Ask any musician or singer who has been there and done that…there’s nothing quite like it. Some have even compared it to a sensual experience that could be felt physically, almost like the effects of a drug.
Why is that? What would make a person feel so good at the reception of applause, screams of praise, worship? Worship? Yes, that’s what I said….worship. The reason it feels so good may be because it is too good; too good for us.
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. – Revelation 4:11 KJV
Please don’t think that I am coming down on Christian music, or anything like that. The last thing I would want to do is rip groups like Building 429, Third Day, or Casting Crowns, for example. But on the other hand, even Christian groups (and preachers, conference speakers, pastors, evangelists, etc.) need to re-examine, every now and then, Who is worthy of all praise.
Consider the Guitar “Solo”
Recently, at a Christian college basket ball game, I witnessed something that almost made me sick. Even my little girl thought it was strangely inappropriate. For the rendering of the national anthem, a solo electric guitarist stepped out onto the center of the court. Evidently trying to emulate Jimmy Hendrix, the Christian-school rocker proceeded to pitifully destroy The Star-Spangled Banner. But it was the ending of this amateurish exhibition that made me nauseous and indignant.
At the part of the tune where the lyrics would read, “o’er the land of the free,” the little ham hammed it up by repeating that measure three times, at least, each time going up an octave on the fret board. The worst part was when he stopped, before the last progression, and motioned to the crowd with out-stretched, beckoning hands, pleading for a louder response from the fans. Who were we supposed to be applauding, the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, or this wanna-be Hendrix?
Seriously think about this: when Christian musicians play on stage to adoring fans who have paid money to attend a well-publicized event, and the lead guitarist shreds four measures from the latest top 20 hit, who is receiving the praise? How can we do this appropriately in light of the above verse? Are we sharing in God’s glory, honor, praise? Maybe that’s why it feels “too” good.
This is just a suggestion to all my friends on stage, whatever you do. Re-evaluate what you are doing. Make sure that your efforts to win the lost; to bring the congregation into a heart of worship; or to turn all eyes upon Jesus, do not make YOU the only object in their line of sight. This ain’t Wayne’s World, and we shouldn’t be Aerosmith.