I find that many who have lead worship can barely endure sitting in the pews.
One problem is amplification. I feel wrong about singing into anything so loud that I can't hear myself.
I don't think it is about platforms or audiences. The first thought one may have is that this is about ego and being in the spotlight. I think the reaction of many is far more visceral than that kind of vanity.
The fact is that watching football is far different than playing football -- on an emotional level.
Here is the worship team experiences offers, in theory:
Unity - in arrangements and harmonies.
Unity - in working for something together
Unity - in hearing things blend
Unity - responding to another worshipper
Emotional Satisfaction - in succeeding
Relationship - a voice I can't hear is hard to place within the context of a God who is present.
Vigor - David praised with "all his might" -- there is something more satisfying and vigorous about participating. He said he would not offer that which costs him nothing.
Laird Hamilton, the famous surfer, tells about being really hard to bear when there are no waves. The adrenaline addiction is not a frivolous matter. There is something about the challenge of putting it together and the risk that is far more interesting than having an audience. But, the result is that without rush, the mundane is difficult.
The other thing is simply the sound issue. Either on the platform or off of it, a musician is inherently looking for that blend. Anything that is too loud means you are not blending. Or, if you are, you can't tell.
Theoretically, I am sure many musicians get lost in worship from the pews. It has happened to me. I have a few emotionally flat churches or overly-amplified churches where I would like to see how you do in the pews.
One aspect of this may be that, no matter how hard we try, we can't help thinking about how we'd do it differently. At best just distracting, at worst critical and negative. Especially if it's the church where we used to be the leader and we're watching the new guy.
Emotionally flat I could probably handle, I tend to be that way myself. Overamplified... well, if it was music I really, really like, maybe. But at our church, I still worry about it being too loud for the rest of the congregation, even if I might like it. I blame the new guy :-)
"One aspect of this may be that, no matter how hard we try, we can't help thinking about how we'd do it differently. "
Totally agree. I feel that way too. On one hand, I think it's just the way God wired us - we are not meant to be happy just sitting in the pews and being served. On the other, we need to make sure that we are not being control freaks, critical or thinking that our way of doing things is the only way. :)
I don't know that loudness is really my reason for not wanting to pew warm. I love a great loud mix - well balanced loud mixes make it harder for musicians to cover up mistakes and do a lot to engage audiences.
I think my biggest struggle has always been with the fact that I'd simply rather be playing. This said, I've learned to sit in churches during corporate worship offerings and observe and learn from what they bring to God each week. I've learned a lot this way and have built a nice list of mentoring churches.
There have been times when I've sat through a congregation's worship offering that was horrible and I was able to offer some assistance or encouragement to the leadership after the fact. I've earned a large number of good friends this way over the years. It never ceases to amaze me how friendless and mentorless many worship leaders are. When somebody comes up to them and says "I see you're struggling here, I might be able to give you some ideas" they are, many times, grateful.
I can think of 5 worship leaders who don't even have churches anymore, let alone mentors.
I can think of 2 that have a steady church gig and several other places where they are in transition.
Hmmm...this is a very good thing for worship teams and leaders to think about.
I wonder if we are able to better serve if we occasionally take a turn being served. It is a totally different perspective which can teach us, if we are willing to be taught. If we are unable to praise God graciously from the pew with the rest of our church family, our brothers and sisters, because of various distractions perhaps we need to spend MORE TIME in the pew as a worshiper, as one among many, before we can expect to effectively lead others in that area????
I am hoping our team can move toward taking these breaks from time to time and see what starts to happen!!!
It's also about serving. When music is your ministry, setting in the pews can be tough. I've just moved to a new area and attended a new church last Sunday, and it was tough just sitting in the pew singing. I want to serve God with my voice, my guitar and bass, and it is the yearning to serve that make it so tough just being a part of the congregation. I was raised to be active in the church, and not to be a "pew-potato".
That yearning to serve has never been about ego for me. i grew up thinking I didn't have a good enough voice to sing in front of people, and I am still insecure about it. But it is through God's grace and mercy that I can get up every sunday and sing and play for God. He is my strength and my inspiration. I love the Lord with all my heart and all I want to do is serve Him, not sit in the pew.
But I have to admit I enjoy visiting new churches from time to time and hearing what others are doing and singing. It helps my worship stay fresh and helps to bring insight to what we do at my church. I sometimes hear a song that my church sings and sometimes i feel we sing it better and sometimes I don't.