For too long in our worship services we have seen the congregation as the audience. In recent years a new emphasis has directed us away from that kind of thinking by helping us to see God as the audience and the congregation as performers for Him. While this metaphor has changed the course of the conversation and helped us to use new language, like referring to the stage as a platform, I don’t think the metaphor has been carried far enough.
The more I reflect on worship in the house of God, the more I want to completely abandon that idea that there is an audience at all. When it comes to worship, maybe there is no audience. Audiences tend to be spectators but they don’t usually contribute to the what is happening in the show they are watching. If it’s a movie, the audience pays their money then they sit back and let the performers on screen do the work. At church we often plunk down our tithe and let the people on the platform do the work.
While I believe the metaphor of seeing God as the audience and His people as the performers is better for helping congregational members to engage more in worship, I still think we can do better. A passive spectator is the furthest thing from what Christianity means when it uses the word God. God is not a passive spectator and neither should His people be, after all, liturgy is the work of the people.
The Christian faith has always affirmed a Creator God who is active in His creation, all of His creation. God is not an academic pursuit for us, God is our source of life who draws near to us, reveals Himself to us, intervenes in our lives, changes us, disrupts our days, dies for us, resurrects for us, and just won’t leave us alone even if we want Him to. You can run from yourself but you can’t run from God.