I read an article recently about a study that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study showed participants video clips from classical performances and were asked to pick the best performers. The catch was some of the participants were given video clips with sound, while others were given video clips without sound. A third group was given audio only clips. In other words, some volunteers could only hear the music. Some could see the musicians and hear the music. And some could only see the musicians — they heard nothing.
The results were quite surprising. Only the group that had video clips without sound were able to successfully pick the actual winning performances.
This says something about the study participants and about the real judges who rated the performances. For the actual judges, watching the performers influenced what they heard. So much so, that the study participants were able to pick the same winners without ever having heard a note played.
This speaks to part of our human nature. God created us to be both aural and visual creatures. And according to this study, the visual trumps the aural. The study was quick to point out that the participants decisions were not based on looks or image, but on the passion of the performers as they created their art.
As worship leaders, we spend a great deal of time focusing on making ourselves and our bands sound better. For sure, this is important. However, it’s equally or more important to make sure that we are leading in such a way that inspires people to worship. This does not mean we have to “perform” better. It does mean that what’s happening in our hearts during worship should have some manifestation on the outside for others to see.
Simply put, our passion and fervency to worship God is contagious. Maybe that’s what Kind David learned when he danced before the Lord in sight of all the people. Becoming a better worship leader may have less to do with practice and more to do with stoking the fire inside.
There’s always a lot of discussion on worship versus performance. How do you find the balance between letting people witness your passionate worship while not putting on a show?