Is this worship or a concert?

by Wong Siqi // July 5, 2018, 2:09 pm


A quick search on the internet will show that most dictionaries define “concert” as a public musical performance.

According to this definition, worship can be considered as a type of a concert. But concerts are also associated with entertainment – a couple hundred bucks for a good time.

Worship isn’t entertainment; it is about our response to God. The first ever worship song recorded in the Bible was the song of Moses and Miriam, written to express the Israelites’ gratefulness towards God who had delivered them from the Egyptians (Exodus 15).

King David, possibly the most prolific songwriter in the Bible, often penned lyrics about God’s character. In Colossians 3:16, we are also told to sing praises to God with a heart of thanksgiving. Even stars sing to exalt Him (Job 38:7, Revelation 5:13)!

So while worship can be fun (Miriam led the Israelite women in dance as she sang!) it is primarily a response to who God is and what He has done in our lives. The unfortunate thing is that when we brand worship as a “concert”, people’s minds are usually primed for entertainment instead of exaltation.

So why do worship bands have tours and concerts?

That’s a question I’ve been mulling over, and the only incentive from holding worship concerts I can think of is the sound of unity. To have people from different churches and denominations worship under one roof – isn’t that a glimpse of heaven on earth?

Even so, I still have my concerns. Most people go for worship concerts because of the particular band that’s playing. I can hardly imagine people paying to worship with an unknown band. If that’s the case, aren’t we putting too much spotlight on the band rather than God Himself?

I personally find it hard to reconcile the contentious point that worship should be branded as a concert because of all the connotations and expectations that come with the word “concert.” But I don’t want to discount the heart behind it. Perhaps there really is a good and compelling reason to hold worship concerts – one that I don’t know of yet.

To have people from different churches and denominations worship under one roof – isn’t that a glimpse of heaven on earth?

But as much as it is the worship leader’s role to worship well, good worship is still dependent on the worshipper’s heart.

Take Paul and Silas as examples. If they can worship in prison without any instruments or backing tracks, then I’m sure worship is not about the environment or the acoustics (Acts 16:25). Worship is about our heart. And while most people are distracted by bad musicianship, good musicianship can take our eyes off God too.

I’ve seen it too many times at concerts. Bedazzled, people become too caught up in catching the perfect moment on their phones to post on social media rather than focus on being present in the moment itself.

To worship is to make a conscientious decision to put aside all distractions – whether it’s strobe lights, surround sound or even the band itself – and focus on God. As worshippers, we are not called to spectate but to participate because worship is more than a musical show – it is us responding to God.

In 1 Kings 19:11-13, Elijah was told to go to a mountain where God’s presence was about to pass by. Standing on the mountain, he witnessed a whirlwind, an earthquake and a fire. Yet God was not in any of it. Instead, He chose to come to Elijah in a still, small voice.

The passage speaks volumes to me about how God wants to be a personal and intimate God. But what about us? Many of us look for God in the grand and spectacular, but how many of us would seek Jesus without all the “high” experiences?

And while most people are distracted by bad musicianship, good musicianship can take our eyes off God too.

I’ve come to understand that it is important to seek God in the mundane too: When I’m at work feeling sian and dejected, when I’m at home with quarrelling parents … Even when I’m alone by myself. Do I still revere Christ? Do I acknowledge – or even remember – that He is Lord in all areas of my life, no matter how big or small?

At the end of the day, worship is less about how the session is being led than it is what we express to God. And Romans 12:1 tells me that worship is a life lived for Christ.

We are our own performers of worship to God. We are the conductors of the symphony of worship. Worship only truly becomes a concert when we reduced it to a 30-minute session on Sunday, or a two-hour concert that we attend and then leave untransformed.

Our show must go on for all eternity.

About the author

Wong Siqi

Siqi often loses her footwear in the office. She is also known for her loud sneezes, huge appetite, and weird sound effects. Happens to be a writer too.