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Reform Magazine | July 15, 2024

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When does worship become performance? - Reform Magazine

When does worship become performance?

Barbara Bennett tries to tell the difference

If for any reason I do not go to church on Sunday I can’t orientate my week. That act of getting together with others to worship God is my anchor – it sets me up for all that is to come.

Someone once said to me that going to church was ‘a good habit’, but that habit seems to be dying out! Many churches I lead worship in are struggling with numbers and their identity. For some there has been closure because there just aren’t the people to do all that needs doing. For others there is experimentation, trying to be more flexible, more inclusive, more daring. How do we steer a path between trying new things and holding on to what is important to us in worship?

Some time ago I read the following quote from Warren and David Wiersbe, father and son pastors in the US: ‘When ministry becomes performance then the sanctuary becomes a theater, the congregation becomes an audience, worship becomes entertainment and [our] applause and approval become the measure of success. But when ministry is for the glory of God, [God’s] presence moves into the sanctuary. Even the unsaved visitor will fall down on his face, worship God and confess that God is among us.’..

Barbara Bennett is a retired United Reformed Church minister, living in Exmouth. She is author of A Great Cloud of Witnesses; parts 1 and 3 are available from


This is an extract from an article published in the November 2023 edition of Reform

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