Today I posted on TwitterThank you for leading me in worship but please don’t tell me what posture I need to take while worshipping Jesus.” I just wanted to take a bit to explain what I meant. I love worshipping Jesus, I am a follower of Him and it is a part of my lifestyle.

On Sunday mornings our church gathers to worship Jesus together. I love those gatherings where we hear from the Word and take time to respond through worship, communion and the giving of tithes. Today I found myself a bit frustrated in our weekly gathering. The worship team was leading us and at one point one of them asked all of us to raise our hands and not just stand there passively. He told us that we need to respond to the words that they were singing “I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned In awe of the one who gave it all, I’ll stand my soul Lord to you surrender all I am is yours.” I love this song and I fully agree with the theology and the words, but I don’t take in literally that I have to stand up and raise my hands while I am singing. Today when the leader told us to do this I kind of felt bullied.

I stood there thinking “I need to do this so that people won’t think that I am being rebellious. I need to do this cause he told me to and if I don’t then he may feel bad, or even worse call me out on it.” All I wanted to do was worship God with the posture that I felt like being in, hands in my pockets, eyes closed and confessing with my mouth and believing in heart that Jesus is good and God. I realized today my own sin and rebelliousness, but also that in the church we sometimes lead people to respond in a way that works with us, not necessarily in a way that God commands.

I don’t mean to be harsh, I was just thinking about it and didn’t want to tweet something random and out there without explanation. Thoughts?

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10 comments so far on “Lead me in worship, not where to put my hands.

  1. Stuart says:

    Generally I will agree, worship how you want, me as the leader should be in no position to ‘make’ you do something (would this even extend to standing up together??).

    However, I think there’s a time and place to fake it till you make it. Raise your hands, stand up, sometimes your spirit is activated by your posture.. well that’s what I’ve found anyway… and that’s usually more a self awareness thing. I’ve never had somebody prompt me to do this in a service and been happy about it 😉

    • philter says:

      Stuart, so glad you commented. I believe that our heart at time follows our actions, so yea I agree. It is a choice to worship, not a feeling. The main reason for yesterday is that I felt bad if I didn’t worship like the dude leading. They were not regulars at our church, just asked to come in and lead. They didn’t know the make up of the church so there was that too. Church is a family, not a function. God has been speaking to me in this.

  2. Wade says:

    Phil, I have totally felt this frustration on a number of occasions. While I always respect worship leaders opinions and the attempts to engage everyone in heartfelt worship – sometimes it just ends up frustrating others.

    Leadership is a tricky thing in any aspect of ministry though.

    On the plus side at least you weren’t made to run around the room in a line pretending to be a truckdrivers, honking imaginary horns!!! I’m not kidding you I HAVE SEEN IT HAPPEN!!!

    • philter says:

      Wade, on behalf of truck drivers world wide, i apologize. I see leadership as tricky for sure, lots of waiting on God and hopefully we respond with His voice and not ours. ugg

  3. Chris says:

    I have been this kind of bully worship leader before. I know that this can be born out of frustration and not “God’s leading”. It can be hard to be in front of a group of people who are looking up at you with blank faces and tired postures…sometimes it’s almost like the congregation I lead in worship are saying to me “I dare you to make me worship.” It’s frustrating and you just want to help them do something. To see that this time should not be wasted. And that’s when it can all go wrong.

    I agree with the earlier comment that physical posture can affect your emotional response but a congregational time of musical worship should be marked by freedom. The congregants should be free to be where they are at before God and the people. Like any relationship, sometimes you “feel it” and sometimes you just show up because that’s what you do in relationships…you show up and do your best despite your feelings.

    It’s way better when leaders of musical/congregational worship do not force response. I try my best to just sing and let the group respond with where they are at. Sometimes we are right there together and sometimes it’s “meh”. I’m trying to keep in mind that a faithful, authentic “meh” is also worship.

    • philter says:

      Chris, you rule man and welcome back to Cali. Man, I know how you feel about being in front and getting nowhere. We had that on the tour at times, it is hard to break through. I do agree that we need to show up despite our feelings, worship is a choice, Worship in Spirit and truth, not emotion. I think it helps when we as leaders dont take ourselves to seriously too, like knowing that it’s about God, not us.

  4. adam mclane says:

    As one who didn’t grow up where people lift their hands or do anything other than sing… being in a church where the worship team constantly tells me what to do makes it really, really hard to worship.

    I don’t want to raise my hands. I don’t want to put my palms out. I don’t want to touch the person next to me. I don’t want to tell the person next to me that they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

    I’ve been around long enough to know that some people are more demonstrative in their worship than others. God makes us all different and we express our worship in various ways. (God’s big enough for this, I looked in the Bible. Yup, he’s bigger than a worship style.)

    Is that rebellion? Is that a lack of allowing myself to be lead by a worship leader? If someone is judging my heart by the position of my arms than they probably aren’t mature enough to be leading worship.

    I “get” Chris’s comment above about the frustration felt in leading worship and people being tired, blank faces, and all. I think that’s because… people are tired and not into it. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

  5. Lars Rood says:

    Phil- Totally agree with you. I’ll take it a step further and say the whole “alter call” to accept Jesus is flawed too. I don’t see that in the Bible. People on stage have a lot of influence and need to recognize that it is part of their job to introduce people into worship in a way they are comfortable with. Yes push them but do it in a way that makes it a push not based on shame or coercion.

  6. jim baker says:

    hey man, i finally was able to give this a bit more thought. I wrote a blog post in response to it entitled “Who’s responsible for worship.”

    Do you think that it would have been different if you would have had a relationship with these worship leaders? What if I had asked you to raise your hands?

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