As always, the views expressed here are mine alone. And I’m not even sure about them, in this case. So don’t take this as a Campus Crusade stance. Because it’s not.
I’ve been thinking recently (having had the opportunity to visit various churches) about what makes for a biblical worship service. There are, as best I can tell, two ends of the spectrum in schools of thought here.
On the one end, we have churches who make it their goal to be excited. The worship leader says things like “Give God some praise!” and “Let’s clap for God!” and other encouragements for the congregation to be excited. These services end up looking like an Elvis concert, with arms waving and ladies crying. We’ll call these folks the feelers.
On the other end of the spectrum are the churches that avoid encouraging anything emotionally. The worship leader stands, starts singing, doesn’t address the congregation at all, and then sits after the songs are over. Their services end up more like an art gallery opening. People clap when they have to, and look forward to the snack bar afterward. We’ll call these folks the Presbyterians. 🙂
Both sides are reactionary. The feelers are reacting to the cold, emotionless worship services they see on the other end of the spectrum. They recognize that when people have been redeemed, they should sing like it. How much clapping and emotion is too much, in light of who God is? None, they say.
The Presbyterians (I can call them by name because I consider myself among their ranks) on the other hand look at the rampant theology of the feelers and say “we’ll worship when we feel like it. And right now, we don’t feel like it.” They concern themselves with theological truth and careful biblical scholarship, and they end up sterilizing the raw emotion out of their worship.
In the middle ground, I’d like to propose a truce. What do you say we look carefully and soberly at what Jesus has done (theology) and let our real, raw worship (doxology) flow naturally out of that? After all, nobody has to encourage you to clap after an amazing concert. But you do clap.
The problem on the feeler end is that they are trying to manufacture praise without actually diving into the depths of what Jesus has done. Theology, doctrine, and intellectualism have been demonized, when they ought to have been celebrated. The cross is the most deeply profound theological event in the history of the world.
The problem on the Presbyterian end is that we avoid all semblance of manufacturing praise, ignoring the fact that so many Psalms are written in the indicative (Praise Him! Bless the Lord, O my soul!). Emotion, feeling, and genuine praise have been demonized, when they ought to have been celebrated. The cross is the most gut-wrenching, emotional event in the history of the world.
It’s great to spend time in churches on the other end of the spectrum. It has helped me to see my own idolatry.
Do you agree? Which side of the fence do you find yourself on?