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Appropriate Expressions for Worship

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  • Appropriate Expressions for Worship

    I pulled this over from another thread that was dangerously close to being hijacked, and I know how much blindeyesopen hates that.

    We all know people who feel reluctant to be outwardly expressive in worship. My question is two fold.

    1) Why? Why is there often a disconnect expressed by some people between the way they "feel" about God and the way they "express" this feeling to God?

    2) What are appropriate expressions of worship?

    What have you thoughts? Personally experiences? What have you heard from others?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Stevie Nature View Post

    1) Why? Why is there often a disconnect expressed by some people between the way they "feel" about God and the way they "express" this feeling to God?

    2) What are appropriate expressions of worship?
    This relates a lot to This Thread on My Blog and to what I'm preaching about this Sunday.

    1) I think there are four factors:

    a) Personality. Some of us are just wired to be more expressive than others.
    b) Cultural Background. Some people come out of a culture (community and/or church) that either doesn't exemplify or even frowns upon outward expressions of worship.
    c) Ignorance. Some people have never been taught what Scripture says about worship as a verb.
    d) Sin. Some people refuse to be expressive in worship because they're either living in sin or because they're just plain stubborn.

    2) I believe your surroundings will dictate what are appropriate expressions of worship. I can worship God in just about any way I want to during my personal time of worship. I can dance naked, I can sing at the top of my lungs, I can confess very intimate sins...all of these things could be appropriate acts of worship at certain times and can be inappropriate at other times.

    Appropriate acts of worship in a corporate setting involve anything that I can think, say and do that both brings glory to God and encourages those arround me.

    Nate
    Practical Worship

    Please Pray For My Wife

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Stevie Nature View Post
      Why? Why is there often a disconnect expressed by some people between the way they "feel" about God and the way they "express" this feeling to God?
      It's been my experience that the disconnect exists because people have yet to learn that worship is personal but not always private. I also know some folks that will serve (worship) God all week and come Sunday morning when the worship (serving) is musical and others are watching, seem to clam up.

      This clamming up could be related to preferring to worship while getting their hands dirty as opposed using our (WL) "favorite" worship expression, music.

      Comment


      • #4
        Our pastor has actually been encouraging the congregation to be more expressive in/during worship. I agree with all of milepost's points. I was raised in th Presbyterian church. Not the most expressive of denominations. It was only until I found a church of my own that I discovered expressive worship. I agree with what I think most contemporaries would say is appropriate: raising hands, waving hands, kneeling, small dancing type movements during fast songs and such, clapping hands, shouting. I think there are other forms of worship, but some I think should be done in private setting. Anything that draws attention to one's self is not worship. For example: dancing out in the aisles, falling down on the floor and shaking etc. Some of these are the accepted norm in some churches which goes along with not drawing attention to one's self. (That clear as mud?) Just my $.02.
        Love the Lord your God with all your heart with your soul with all your mind and with all your strength!!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Spurs4SC View Post
          Anything that draws attention to one's self is not worship...
          I'm wondering if King David forgot about this point.

          I think I agree that it can distract people and might not be seen as appropriate to draw attention to one's self, but do you think there might be some exceptions to this? I have observed a few people whose worship stood out amongst the crowd and had my judgmental thoughts about them, but I have also had times where I've seen their openness in worship and wondered if that extravagance brings a smile to the Lord.

          I agree that there are some surroundings where there are certain norms for worship, but I'm not sure Jesus was always about following the norms.

          Comment


          • #6
            That's a tough call. At first, in the "King David" example above, I tend to agree, but then I don't think you can say that (I assume you are talking about his coming in before the ark twirling and dancing 'til his clothes fall off!) ... in a way, that was an act of individual, personal worship. They weren't really in a corporate gathering.

            It's a tough one, for sure. You want people to have the liberty to express themselves, but not at the expense of distracting so many people that they are hindered in their worship. I think the personal/small group versus big corporate gathering context is critical, and furthermore - the overall "feel" of the corporate environment.
            Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
            blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

            Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:
            www.soundcloud.com/FredMcKinnonMusic
            www.youtube.com/c/FredMcKinnonMusic

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            • #7
              I can see both sides

              Yeah, I want people to feel free to worship openly. There are so many factors that can be thrown in. I think that is where being a part of a church family comes in. I know that if I laid prostrate on the floor to pray that would definitely be a distraction regardless of how authentic it was. I know that and out of respect for my pastor and my church family I would not do that on Sunday morning.
              Love the Lord your God with all your heart with your soul with all your mind and with all your strength!!

              Comment


              • #8
                Big confession here. This is a safe place, right? I'm about to rant.

                I've been leading worship for about 18 years now and it still bugs the crap out of me when we sing "We stand and lift up our hands..." and one or two out of a hundred actually are doing what they're singing.

                THAT's when I wonder what is going on in their heads and hearts. Come on! Are not, dare I say, most of those same people able to go nuts at a ball game without fear of what others are thinking?

                IMHO - it comes down to pride for the most part. Think about it. Am I right?

                Their "comfort level" seems (I know I'm assuming here) to be based upon what others are thinking. Haven't each and every one of us found ourselves thinking that at one time or another during corporate worship? How often are we unwilling to make a "sacrifice of praise"?

                But I think it also comes down to the other things that have already been mentioned on this thread. I also will quickly blame the church leadership (as I already made clear on the post which spawned this one). The pastor and other leaders are "key" worshipers who set the standard.

                That's all I have for now...

                Comment


                • #9
                  I hear ya...

                  ...and I agree. I have had that happen during the same song at previous churches. We actually just introduced that song to our congregation, (new church) and it went over well, they responded pretty good to participating with the song. There are a lot of "traditional" people who we are trying to teach, not really how to worship, but what worship really is and what things they can do to express it.
                  Love the Lord your God with all your heart with your soul with all your mind and with all your strength!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I know through many of my posts I'm sounding like a stick in the mud. I don't mean to, it's just that sometimes my experiences have lead me to it I guess.

                    We always have to remember that we are talking about (and we must include ourselves in this too) fallen people trying our best to discern what worshiping the God of the Universe is all about.

                    Gary I don't really agree with you that the Pastor or Lead needs to set the standard. Who are we following really? The Pastor or God. God has set the standard period and none of us have lived up to it, no not one of us.

                    All are human and of course we would like our Pastor's and leaders to be the mature Christians, but that's not always the case either. I've lived through a couple of immature pastor's overseeing my church and let me tell you, they are really hard to follow. Many people say we shouldn't "slag" God's chosen (the Pastor or Leader) but they are just as human as the next person.

                    On to the question at hand.

                    There are many more expressions of worship that we as a people have not even conceived yet I'm sure. Being a former Vineyard worship leader, I can say that I've been through (both leading and as a participant) some very "interesting" times of worship. During the 90's, through the revival movement such as the Airport Vineyard in Toronto worship times were sort of a free for all. I remember one worship time a friend of mind was at, round about the time Braveheart came out and the cry for "freedom" was sounding out in our worship services. Well, one guy stripped down buck naked and yelled at the top of his voice, "Freedom Lord, I receive your freedom!" Well, I'm pretty sure no one else in the congregation wanted to him to receive God's freedome at that moment. I'd say that's not an appropriate expression of worship in our day and age, atleast not in public, maybe in the private place of worship.

                    Because we are fallen people what will be totally acceptable to one person will seem like total blasphemy to another when in fact, All expressions of worship which are done with an honest heart and true desire to worship God needs to be acceptable. When people start dumping their own expectations of what is or is not acceptable in worship to God, we really loose sight of what we are there for in the first place.

                    Because we will never (maybe when we see him face to face) fully understand or fathom the vastness of who God is, we will generally fall short in our expressions of worship to him. Oh, we will have times when we come awfully close to our level of "high" but is that really what God has in mind for our times of worship? I don't have the answer to that one.

                    Remember, we as people have divided ourselves up into different groups of Christians, we have Baptist, Pentecostals, Anglican, Lutheran, Mennonites, Southern Baptist, and the ever popular "non-denominational" types like Vineyard, Hill-song's, Seeker sensitive (Willow Creek), Calvary Chapel, and all the little "community" churches out there going it alone, to name a few.

                    Why has Christianity become like this? One reason is because we can't seem to agree on what is appropriate these days when it comes to having a relationship with God and our worship expressions are no different.

                    Distractions only come when we are not engaging ourselves with the almighty. Not because some person is dancing about with a flag, all around the congregation, or some other person is off in a corner looking like Eddy Van Hallen rocking out with Jesus. These people are freely expressing their praise to God and we are saying they can't because they are a distraction? Come on people, we want to allow everyone to be free children of God right. What is heaven going to be like. Do you think God is going to cordon off groups of people? "The Baptists need to go over here because they can't worship me in the same way the Pentecostals do", "Oh and make sure you keep those Vineyard people away from the Anglican's, that's just a real mess waiting to happen". God can handle everyones expression of worship. I'm honestly glad when I see someone free enough to dance around the room praising God, or another person shouting out at the top of their voice "I LOVE YOU LORD, YOUR THE GREATEST THING I'VE EVER KNOWN". I also love to watch one good friend of mind in particular who just stands there with a smile on her face as she's singing quietly to her Lord and King. She's not distracted by the dancer rushing by her, she is totally focused on God.

                    People shouldn't be blamed for the cause of being distracted, we are distracted because of ourselves choosing to turn our focus on those around us instead of fixing our eyes upon Jesus.


                    Helen Lemmel said it best when she paraphrased a gospel tract into this simple verse in 1922

                    Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
                    Look full in His wonderful face,
                    And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
                    In the light of His glory and grace.
                    Last edited by R.True; 10-21-2007, 11:20 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Good word brother!

                      "People shouldn't be blamed for the cause of being distracted, we are distracted because of ourselves choosing to turn our focus on those around us instead of fixing our eyes upon Jesus."

                      Thanks bro'. That is a great word!!
                      Love the Lord your God with all your heart with your soul with all your mind and with all your strength!!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I wonder if the real question is this:

                        Is our ability to worship the One True God so delicate and weak that we get distracted by someone dancing? Clearly they are not distracted by us.

                        Just a thought.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          True,

                          Your post was long, so let me apologize in advance, because my response will have to be pretty long.

                          Originally posted by R.True View Post
                          Gary I don't really agree with you that the Pastor or Lead needs to set the standard. Who are we following really? The Pastor or God. God has set the standard period and none of us have lived up to it, no not one of us.
                          I think what Gary is getting at is that the pastor (and I would argue other church leaders) should lead the congregation. This does not simply begin and end with the pulpit. Often a congregation will only be as engaged or fervent or whatever as the perceived engagement of the pastor and other leaders. To suggest that the a leader is someone to imitated is not to say that we're not at the same time focusing upon and honoring Christ. Consider the words of Paul in 1 Cor. 4:16 "I urge you, then, be imitators of me", and his further clarificationin 1 Cor. 11:1 "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." God gives us leaders to lead us to Christ. It's not an either/or, but a both/and.


                          Originally posted by R.True View Post
                          All are human and of course we would like our Pastor's and leaders to be the mature Christians, but that's not always the case either. I've lived through a couple of immature pastor's overseeing my church and let me tell you, they are really hard to follow. Many people say we shouldn't "slag" God's chosen (the Pastor or Leader) but they are just as human as the next person.
                          To be honest, I wouldn't be at a church with such a pastor. Pastor, overseer, elder...these are all the same office the qualifications of which include maturity.

                          Originally posted by R.True View Post
                          Because we are fallen people what will be totally acceptable to one person will seem like total blasphemy to another when in fact, All expressions of worship which are done with an honest heart and true desire to worship God needs to be acceptable.
                          I really have to disagree with you there. Not everything that is done in sincerety is to be understood as acceptable. I mean, you just gave the example the William Wallace wannabe. Look at the book of 1 Cor. Paul corrects many abuses in worship. (I'd go into them, but this is already going to be a long post, and I'm sure you can think of a couple if you're at all familiar with the book.) I'm sure many of the Christians at Corinth were sincere in their desire to honor God, but that really wasn't the point to Paul. Some of their worship practices were not appropriate so Paul corrects them.

                          Originally posted by R.True View Post
                          When people start dumping their own expectations of what is or is not acceptable in worship to God, we really loose sight of what we are there for in the first place.
                          I agree with you that we ought not stand over someone in judgment of their worship to the point that we do not worship. That's not the reason for this question. As worship leaders we should constantly mindful of how we can help facilitate the worship of our Lord in our churches, and elsewhere if we have the opportunity. The question is, how can we help our people worship God in a way that is honoring to Him. The problem is that we've made worship so personal, that our own existential experience trumps pretty much everything...often, even what God has prescribed or forbidden in His word. I guess that's all I'll say about that now.

                          Originally posted by R.True View Post
                          Distractions only come when we are not engaging ourselves with the almighty. Not because some person is dancing about with a flag, all around the congregation, or some other person is off in a corner looking like Eddy Van Hallen rocking out with Jesus.
                          You can't seriously believe that. If I'm sincerely worshipping God, and all of someone goes into some kind of frenzy next to me, bumping me, and screaming loudly very near my ear, I'm not to be distracted.

                          Originally posted by R.True View Post
                          These people are freely expressing their praise to God and we are saying they can't because they are a distraction? Come on people, we want to allow everyone to be free children of God right.
                          No, not primarily. My primary desire is to be honoring to God. The question is what is honoring to God in a corporate worship setting? This is the reason for this thread.

                          Originally posted by R.True View Post
                          What is heaven going to be like. Do you think God is going to cordon off groups of people? "The Baptists need to go over here because they can't worship me in the same way the Pentecostals do", "Oh and make sure you keep those Vineyard people away from the Anglican's, that's just a real mess waiting to happen".
                          I'm not really what your point is here. No, I don't think God will segment off different groups. I'm not sure what this has to do with having standards for worship.

                          Originally posted by R.True View Post
                          God can handle everyones expression of worship. I'm honestly glad when I see someone free enough to dance around the room praising God, or another person shouting out at the top of their voice "I LOVE YOU LORD, YOUR THE GREATEST THING I'VE EVER KNOWN". I also love to watch one good friend of mind in particular who just stands there with a smile on her face as she's singing quietly to her Lord and King. She's not distracted by the dancer rushing by her, she is totally focused on God.
                          Let me ask you. Is there any standard at all? Is there something that you would absolutely not do in worship?


                          I guess, in general, what concerns me is that there seems to be some people who believe, or at least function as if, there is no objective standard for worship. Personally, I hold to the regulative principle. I think that Scripture needs to be our guide as to what is acceptable in worship. I'd go into it, but this is already a long post.

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                          • #14
                            I sometimes wonder why we have to "define" what is an appropriate worship expression? No that I haven't tried to, I think we as humans are just creatures of comfort and we like to compartmentalize everything...

                            But if worship is more than just music....

                            If it's more than just clapping, singing, shouting, dancing, kneeling, etc...

                            It's a spiritual act. It comes from within. It's a heart thing.

                            To me: an appropriate "act" or expression of worship is one that comes FIRST from a heart that is turned towards God.

                            And don't fool yourself. If you're heart is really and truly turned towards God, you won't be doing "inappropriate" acts of worship. At least not to GOD! I agree with those before who are hinting at the underlying issues of pride and ego that try and dictate what is good, when truly when all the dust settles there is only ONE who is truly GOOD, and that is GOD!

                            Of course, we are united to God through Christ, so HE in us is truly good, and if we're communing with Him, then shouldn't most (if not everything) that comes out of us be "appropriate"?

                            This is not to say that we can do it on our own, but I mean true worship is SPIRITUAL. And it's only by God's grace that we can even worship in the first place, so it all comes back to GOD!!

                            Appropriate worship is GOD-centered, not man-centered.

                            I think the problem for most of us is trying to balance out an authentic, worship oriented gathering, with the need to edify and evangelize. We try and squish it all into one package. Might grow churches in numbers, but it just doesn't seem to be the "true worship" that a lot of us know is "out there"...

                            I think if we just had "gatherings of worship" along side of evangelistic events/gatherings, Bible teaching gatherings, service "projects" we might experience some sort of change? Good or bad? I don't know.

                            I just know that the "western" idea of "worship" isn't really what God had in mind.
                            Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church .He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community.

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                            • #15
                              I just looked over my post and there were a lot of typos. I was at work when I wrote it, and didn't get a chance to proof read. Oops.

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