Summary: What is worship?
As I have grown up, I have been at a few different churches that have had many different styles of worship. For most of my life I attended a Baptist church, where all of our music was done on the piano and the organ. We always sang hymns. We would stand, hold the hymnal in our hands, sing the song, and then sit. That was how I came to know this thing called worship.
In eighth grade, I started going to a youth group at a different church. Here they had a band that played the songs and most often they were very upbeat and a lot of fun. I was enamored with the fact that they were playing songs in church with drums and an electric guitar. During the songs people would clap and occasionally jump up and down or bounce from side to side as they sang. Here some of the people also did some strange things like raising their hands while they sang; some people sat down and prayed in their chairs or at the front. This was a little weird for me at first since it was nothing like the worship at my church. I took me a few years of going there to get comfortable with doing much more than clapping. Eventually though I grew more comfortable with being able to go and kneel at the front if I needed to or bouncing up and down for a certain song.
Just as I grew comfortable with this new way of worship my ways were challenged again. My junior and senior year was when I met my friends who I eventually started a band with and I would occasionally go to their church. They had a full band to do their chorus songs just like the youth group that I was at. Except when they were playing the people seemed almost…well, out of control. They would clap, raise their hands, kneel in prayer, and those things but they would also be dancing in the aisles. They would be jumping up and down in the back of the church yelling praises to God, and they had an official dance team who stood at the front of the church and did interpretive dance while the worship team played.
I didn’t really know what to think. I almost would always refuse to dance in the aisles. “That was just too much,” I thought, “these people were just making spectacles of themselves.” It was distracting too. I had a hard time worshiping and paying attention to God as people right next to me were dancing around not to mention the older women in purple spandex were dancing with blue ribbons in their hands at the front of the church. That would make it hard to think straight about anything, let alone worshipping God.
As I went to their church more and more I began to realize something. I began to notice that most of the people there weren’t just putting on a show. They weren’t just trying to make it all about themselves. These people were truly just excited and passionately in love with God. They didn’t care what anyone else thought; they worshipped God with everything they had.
I began to watch these people as they danced and bounded around the sanctuary and the more I understood their heart for God, the more I noticed that I was catching that same urge to dance in joy for my God. It started slow as I began to feel free to bounce around in front of my seat. It grew as I eventually felt comfortable with moving from “my place” out to the side or back of the church. Eventually, I felt free to dance and be free in my worship towards God.
As I have been in different worship settings and churches throughout my life I have noticed there is always one common thread that is shared in each situation. As I have gone to different church or events with worship and even when I come here on Sundays or Mondays, I sometimes tend to focus on what everyone else is doing. I tend to be concerned with how I will look to the people around me if I do or don’t do the same thing that everyone else is doing. Sometimes I feel weird as I wonder if people think I looked dumb in church on Sunday as I bobbed my head and shut my eyes as I played my bass and sang. Sometimes I will refrain from raising my hands here at youth group because I think, “These kids are going to think I am a weirdo!” All too often we come into a situation of worship, looking around and paying attention to the people around us when it all honesty, they should be the last thing on our minds. When we worship, our sole focus should be on our relationship with God. The songs we sing should be as if we are singing a prayer to God. We should be focused on expressing our love and admiration to God first and foremost.