Emotion and Worship

Abilene Christian University Summit, Worship Leader Institute, Keith Lancaster, MoodyPhotos by Steve Butman — God created us as emotional beings. If you understand true worship, you’ll find it’s impossible to separate your best worship offering from God-given emotion.

In considering the duties of a worship leader, many believe their assignment ends after starting a song. Although beginning a song in the appropriate key is important, there is much more to leading God’s people than song directing.

It’s not about simply starting a song.
It’s not about who has the best singing voice.
It’s all about leading God’s people in meaningful, spirited worship.

Can you imagine meaningful worship devoid of emotion?

Here are only a couple of principles that come to mind when considering effective worship leading:

Body Language Is Essential
It’s been proven time and again that people believe non-verbal communication more than words. Facial expressions communicate volumes. When your body language contradicts what you say, people always go with your non-verbal cues. That’s why it’s paramount that worship leaders overcome the stigma of projecting emotion.

Projecting to the Back Row
It’s not enough to express emotion. Depending upon the complexity of the assignment, I encourage leaders to communicate “to the back row.” The larger the venue and group, the more challenging the job of leading by expression.

Abilene Christian University Summit, Keith Lancaster, Moody

The Worship Leader Institute is an advanced, intense week of training for gifted leaders. The best instructors from around the world are assembled for this premier training which takes place once a year. This year, the training will be July 29 – August 4 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. An entry exam is required for application and registration is limited. For information about how to sponsor your leader, contact Bill@Acappella.com

Questions for Discussion:
1. Why are song leaders afraid to display emotion? (Especially the emotions reflected in the words they are singing? So often there is a disconnect.)
2. Why do leaders squelch their expressions and feelings they would otherwise display in other settings?
3. Why have many churches neglected the training and development of worship leaders? (When compared to the training of preachers?)

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65 Comments for “Emotion and Worship”

  1. A comment has been shared that “Emotion in corporate worship is inappropriate as it can distract from those that are uncomfortable with it.” I appreciate your concern for others, but what about turning away the “others” who seek and desire more expressive worship? I wonder why Jesus did not stop the expressive worship in Luke 7:36ff which was obviously offensive to others? Food for thought.

    • I think it is far less likely and that the risk is greatly reduced that by having a more conservative worship service you would turn away people. I am not saying worship service be devoid of any emotion but we need to make sure we are conducting ourselves most importantly in a way acceptable to God and able to do his will. A warm, friendly, heartfelt service can do much to make people feel welcome and personally I have never had an experience otherwise whether in a conservative church or a more emotion filled service. But there are many who would feel uncomfortable or pressured to “act” a certain way in order to be accepted if emotions ran over the top. I still hold the position that expressive, emotional behavior be reserved for smaller groups or devotionals and that we conduct ourselves with some reverence and restraint in a coporate worship service. This is not a “right” or “wrong” debate. I am not saying you are wrong to worship with emotion. It’s a matter of what your intent is with your worship. I have also been moved to tears during service, but I did not stand up and raise my hands and wail for everyone to see. Even Christ went to the garden to cry alone and pled with the Father in prayer. He did not give himself over to emotion in front of the Apostles. He did it in private. Worship service can be a wonderfully emotional experience but as a congregation of 100 or a couple thousand you cannot expect everyone in the room to be at the same point in their journey as you are. Nor can you homogenize people’s emotion and expect everyone to express them in the same way. We still have to deal with the variable of people. I have two boys, two years apart raised in the same house by the same parents and could not be any more different in how they express themselves. People are different. We have to strike a balance of being able to revive and edify one another without excluding people with our behavior. When I said “Emotion in corporate worship is inappropriate” that was a poor choice of words to make my point. Most people will read that and all they hear is “emotion is inappropriate” and that’s unfortunate. But emotions do need to be handled in an appropriate way when we are in worship service or in any forum really. Emotions are volitile and can do harm as easily as they can do good. As the saying goes “emotions can get the best of us”.
      This is simply a single point of view but I cannot imagine someone would decide not to attend worship service because I didn’t raise my hands during prayer or clap along while singing. But I have seen people leave because of it.
      I am sure there are examples of the opposite but I would guess far fewer. I think the world is big enough to accomodate us all however and in the end we are all unified in Christ whether we have an expressive personality or are more reserved.

      • You are correct, Mike, when you say that we should not expect or pressure others into behaving in ways uncomfortable for them. I long for environments in which everyone feels comfortable and accepted in expressing their feelings in diverse ways. My point is, we have done exactly that (taken a strong stance) – in that we have created environments (and expectations) that discourage and isolate those who respond to God emotionally in worship.

        • But if I feel differently then that can’t be true of everyone in every church. I like my church. I liked it when you visited there and taught us things about how to improve our worship service. We can always do more but we cannot let the emotion rule; there has to be abalance of emotion and intellect in order to be effective. There just needs to be balance is my only point and sometimes that can be hard to strike.

        • Oh how I can so agree. Never have I been more uncomfortable worshipping the way I felt led to than when I attended the youth conference Exposure. With all it’s wonderful merits, I was sadly disappointed that I could not join in worship in a manner I felt I should be allowed to. You see for a woman in the church, singing is my worship and when I feel stifled, I feel as though my worship isn’t whole. It was certainly hard for me to feel a connection to the Holy Spirit when my arms wanted desperately to be raised to The Lord & I could not for fear that my worship would “offend” my brothers and sisters. Secondly when the male song leaders tried to encourage us to sing out they missed their mark on the tact in doing so. It left me offended- especially when they didn’t even get the tune correct to the song(s) they led. They made me feel as though it was our fault because we couldn’t follow along…..wrong approach entirely. So that leaves me perplexed. Does it not matter that their worship offended me?

      • Mike, I think your comment, “I think it is far less likely and that the risk is greatly reduced that by having a more conservative worship service you would turn away people” is untrue. People who practice emotional worship feel awkward around those that don’t so they will (quietly) leave and never come back.

        • Romans 15:7 “Accept one another, just as Christ accepted you. . . ” We shouldn’t keep trying to force everyone to be and think exactly like us. It goes both ways. And if those on both sides of a practice adopt the mind of Christ, we’ll find we can live and grow together in unity. I appreciate all the comments.

    • One thing becomes glaringly obvious from even a casual reading of the Gospels: Jesus seriously challenged the “comfort zones” of most of the “religious folks” of His day. Are there not dozens of examples of where
      his teachings and actions were deemed “inappropriate” by many? So why does that allow the “I-find-that-to-be-distracting” card to trump all others?

      • The only problem with this argument is Jesus did not challenge “religious folks” on being too un-emotional.

        • Jessamyn Orgeron

          But Christ certainly did challenge Hypocritical behavior, and both over-acting and under-acting fall into this far better than what we usually use this word for.

          ” c.1200, ipocrisie, from Old French ypocrisie, from Late Latin hypocrisis, from Greek hypokrisis “acting on the stage, pretense,” from hypokrinesthai “play a part, pretend,” also “answer,” from hypo- “under” (see sub-) + middle voice of krinein “to sift, decide” (see crisis). The sense evolution in Attic Greek is from “separate gradually” to “answer” to “answer a fellow actor on stage” to “play a part.” The h- was restored in English 16c.

          Hypocrisy is the art of affecting qualities for the purpose of pretending to an undeserved virtue. Because individuals and institutions and societies most often live down to the suspicions about them, hypocrisy and its accompanying equivocations underpin the conduct of life. Imagine how frightful truth unvarnished would be. [Benjamin F. Martin, “France in 1938,” 2005] ”

          To avoid literal play-acting in any direction, the emotions should be “truth unvarnished”, so if the meaning of our word are sad to us, we should show it, and if they are triumphant, we should show it. Kind of simple.

  2. No one would want me to lead singing, but I was asked yesterday to direct my church family’s thoughts at the table. The songs of worship – sung full-hearted by the 20 of us gathered in spite of weather had led me to one of those moments when I could barely keep my emotions in check to speak. Sometimes the enormity of what God has done through His Son becomes so clear and real that deep awe, gratitude and overwhelming emotion are inevitable.

    So I stumbled through my prayers with trembling voice and eyes blurred by tears.

    And no one disfellowshiped me when we dismissed.

    • Thanks for sharing your touching experience, Keith. I regret the many times that I have fought back tears in worship, for reasons I still can’t articulate.

  3. Are we not commanded to worship in truth AND in Spirit? Doesn’t the tongue produce what’s in the heart? How can one truly come into the presence of an awesome and holy God and NOT have an emotional response? Witnesses thought those touched by the Spirit after Pentecost were drunk! How were they acting? What emotions were they exhibiting to cause onlookers to think that? Keith, statements (and beliefs) like that are running people away from our “tribe” in masses. Those seeking Spirit-filled worship are now often compromising on truth to find it. In response to that statement, I would argue that this person’s desire to not offend (I will assume that is his/her motive and that it is not just a convenient scape goat for their own comfort…) has in reality offended and driven away far more brothers and sisters than any of us would really care to know. God cherishes our emotional responses to Him. They confirm our belief.

    • Danny, I believe in diversity of our expressions in worship. Having traveled across continents, we have witnessed many cultures and styles of worship. They can be different and all be appropriate, although very diverse. However, I contend that to divorce emotion from worship is wrong, no matter how one attempts to justify it.

    • One of the problems with this mindset is you are equating emotions with hand clapping, raising hands, etc. I do none of those but my worship to my Lord is full of emotions that He hears, feels and sees, that is what is important.b

    • “Those seeking Spirit-filled worship are now often compromising on truth to find it”. There it is. You just made my argument. Are you seeking truth or Spirit-filled worship?

      • Mike, it’s not an either/or commandment.

        • Exactly my point. So define “Spirit-filled worship”. Are you saying I am not Spirit-filled because I do not weep, wail, raise hands and clap?

          • But there’s the other side of this coin, Mike: Is an individual “non-Truth-full” if the DO find weeping, railing, hand-raising, or clapping a natural outflowing of their expression to God of thanksgiving?

          • I wont, but I doubt it. Again, I cannot fathom anyone coming near to God and not having some kind of physiological response at some point. You cannot separate body and spirit until death. You want me to define Sprit-filled worship? I can tell you for sure what it’s not: a cold, sterile environment where all emotion is checked at the door and relational experiences are reserved for potluck dinners. Mike, I’m 40 years old and I have been in “the church” my entire life. I come from the background I just described. If you find solace in that kind of worship then so be it…for you. Dont put me in that box too…I lived in it for a long time and brother, it is awesome to be able to breathe…..

          • You may doubt it Danny but you would be doing so based on nothing as you have no basis for your assumption. I am 48 although I fail to see the relevance of age here and grew up in the Church as well. You should be careful to think you know how to define or recognize Spirit-filled worship whether in a congregation or an individual. You are perilously close to saying you can read the hearts of man. I would argue it is much easier to recognize a fraud that puts on a show for others to see than someone who lives their life with quiet reserve and reverence to God. As I stated previously, I find no fault with anyone who worships with emotion but I do think it is better that during our corporate worship we maintain an acceptable level of emotion and do not allow ourselves to become a distraction for others. Please tell me that the 1 to 2 hour block of time you spend in church on Sunday is the only time during the week or that day that you have the opportunity to worship God with emotion.

      • I seek both. I am far more encouraged to delve into study and have a deeper relationship with my Lord when I can worship in truth and spirit.

  4. Tommy Holland shared an interesting comment about how we over-correct, trying to avoid something we perceive to be too extreme. We cause the pendulum to go the other direction. In my opinion, we end up at a place that is just as wrong (or more so) than the position we were trying to avoid.

    • Have we not ‘quenched the Spirit’ in some significant ways, with a significant component of our core theology (i.e. “God ONLY speaks through the Bible”)? We often worship more in “Truth” that in “Spirit”, I fear.

  5. Emotion is shown in a variety of ways. The simplest and least obtrusive ways I have found are to simply make eye contact and smile at the congregation and speak with enthusiasm. If I look like I am bored then everything will end up being boring. If I’m staring at the book or even a screen the I miss out on so much fellowship. Yesterday as I was leading I would see people walking in or singing and I would think of bits of their story. Wondering what was happening in their lives. I couldn’t hear each person individually, but I could “see” their worship on their faces or in their hands lifted to God.

    I am working on being more comfortable with lifting my own hands. A couple months ago while leading I saw one older lady lifting her hands and face to the Lord and it removed my greatest emotion…FEAR. I decided then and there that I wouldn’t be afraid to worship with my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

    I find it interesting that few people have a problem standing during a song especially if it is “Standing on the Promises” or “I Stand in Awe”. Sometimes they will even stand spontaneously mid-song with no request or direction from the leader. But if you use parts of your body other than your legs or mouth people get uncomfortable.

    David danced before the Lord and the people and was chastised for it, but not by God. I haven’t quite gotten to that point yet, but maybe someday.

    • I appreciate your comments Matt but we are not required to worship in a way that pleases the song leader. It’s great that you are progressing towards a state where you feel comfortable in doing things that enhance worship for you. But that does not work for me. When I feel the closest connection with God is when I pray alone and out of sight of others. I am completely given over to him, free to express all my emotions which can run the gamut of all of them including fear and sometimes anger. I can’t do that in corporate worship service. It would be distracting to others and possibly detrimental to some. That would be unfair and selfish of me to expect everyone to be at the same point I am in my walk with Christ. So I temper my emotion and try and respect all those in attendance as I fellowship with them while we worship God together.

  6. Here is my SUGGESTION:
    1. Elders and worship leaders (along with their churches) should spend plenty of time together studying this topic.
    2. If it is decided that assemblies should exude many different emotions, including joy and celebration, then worship leaders should be encouraged to set the tone (by example), and NOT default to a “joyless countenance” which is far too common. If joy and tears offend people, we have really missed the mark.
    3. We should pray for a Christ-like atmosphere that does not attempt to force anyone to respond in certain ways; but equally as important, we do not throw the proverbial “wet blanket” on those who respond differently. (Romans 15:7)

  7. If men and women offered their spouses the same amount of emotion God is offered in worship the divorce rate would be around 97%. This is an issue of pride and tradition. The God who obsesses with my redemption deserves far more. Let’s deny our spouses displayed-emotion but tell them we are being affectionate in our hearts. Won’t fly. It’s time to call it what it is. If we are the bride of Christ then he deserves more.

    • Excellent point, Scott. We seem more intent upon justifying our lifeless approach than in stretching and growing in our heart-felt response to God’s extreme love for us.

    • If I were to all of the sudden start acting with great dramatic emotion with my wife I can assure you she would be suspect of my sincerity among other things. Once again to my point, people display their emotions differently whether in worship or in marriage. My parents were married over 40 years before my father died and never once did I see them fawn all over each other nor did I ever question their love for each other.
      My relationship with God or my wife is between us and both seem quite pleased with the emotion I express with each of them.

  8. I think it is a very dangerous practice to cast people as “wet blankets” or refer to them as dead because they do not wear their emotions on their sleeve. People are different and express themselves differently. I have never held the position that it was wrong to be emotional in worship only that it must be balanced. However because I answered a question with an answer other than what some wanted to hear I am now being asked to re-evaluate my relationship with God. That somehow those who are more emotional in behavior are superior to me in their worship and that I am just trying to justify a “lifeless approach” in some “joyless countenance”.
    Wow! Not to be overly emotional here but that is quite a “blanket” statement to make about part of the body of Christ just because they don’t look or act like you.

  9. The concept of traditions has been added to our discussion. I believe that traditions can be truly FANTASTIC and celebrated; but not traditions that:
    1. Force everyone to feel pressure to behave the exact same way in expressing worship.
    2. Discourage people (by example, teaching, etc.) to refrain from any emotional expression in worship.
    Those are a couple of traditions we should disown.

  10. Brothers and sisters, this should not be a fight. The devil is using both sides of this “argument” to split the church right down the middle….again. Even in this discussion, people’s words are being taken out of context and used to “prove” the opposing point. I don’t think Keith’s “wet blanket” analogy was referring to a person or group of people rather, that he has experienced (as have I) having his worship stiffled and smothered by those who for whatever reason did not approve of his expression of emotion in worship. My statement that people are compromising truth to find Spirit-filled worship should be a conviction to work even more diligently at finding that balance so many seek. Not as a “proof” that their motives are impure. In my little circle, I can count on one hand the number of folks who disapprove of any expression of emotion other than the traditionally ascribed methods (a smile, singing, maybe an “amen” if you’re a man). On the other hand, it makes me sick to stomach to think of the number of people who no longer worship where I do because of that atmosphere. Am I passonate about this issue? You bet I am. I have four children who are coming up in a world that is spiralling out of control. It is time that we come to the table.

  11. A number of these comments point out some key missconceptions that make this such an emotional topic among believers. I find that many incorrectly believe that a call for freedom to express God-given emotions during corporate worship is an attack on those who do not express their emotions in a certain way. These are in fact two different things – one being God-honoring, and one being religious rule making. Also, there is a lack of clarity within discussions about what “emotions” mean, as well as the complexity and method of how they are expressed. As was previously mentioned, we often like to address potentionally problematic extremes, rather than the vast space within them.

    This discussion never needs to be about attacking. Rather, it should be a discussion where everyone aims to help others to worship in their fullest, God-honoring capacity.

  12. Thanks for all the comments. We must have struck a nerve. I believe that we should not pressure anyone to be expressive or do something out of their comfort zone. If you re-read my posts, my heart is broken because many of our churches have indeed pressured people into squelching most of their emotions in worship. So, we should:
    1. Foster mature, receptive environments in which people can express themselves differently in unity and love. (Some are not expressive, some are, but that’s okay.)
    2. Allow people to celebrate the Gospel without feeling out of place or called into correction.
    Elders should teach on this. Worship leaders should lovingly set the example (again I emphasize, in unity and love).

    • Keith, I agree with your statement above and sincerely hope I did not threaten or anger anyone with my comments. I am not a skilled enough writer to properly convey the sincerity or sarcasm in my words. They really need to develop a font for those two.

  13. PLEASE NOTE: All of us are “wired” differently. That’s wonderful! God made us all uniquely different. We respond differently. We process differently. We express ourselves differently. Throughout this discussion, keep in mind that some people will never be overtly expressive (by virtue of their personality) but are totally pleasing God in their worship! Therefore, we should not expect and force people to express a certain way. The focus for this topic is the tragic atmosphere that villainizes and suppresses expressive worship. Many people will naturally be more expressive in their worship if: 1. The leaders foster an environment in which it is acceptable, and 2. The worship leader is not doing everything to suppress expression (his own and that of others.)

  14. This was moving and inspiring. Thank you for this post. In the past, I was one to devoid myself from expressing emotion. I have decided to no longer hold back my emotion, but to express what God has put inside of me. Thanks again!

    • I pray you will be free to express to God the feelings upon your heart. I pray that your church family will encourage you to do that and be encouraged when you do. I also pray that you will not judge others who do not express themselves in the same way you do. I’m glad you shared.

  15. A comment was made about making sure we are not being manipulative. I agree, we should not be manipulative. But, the first principle in my article above is this: We are communicating (like it or not) through our non-verbal communication and body language. That’s not a choice. We are communicating something. Something is wrong if a first-time visitor walks into a church and hears (us) singing words which declare joyous sentiments, happy and celebratory victories, yet the song leader and the majority of the congregation appear to be totally depressed or apathetic.

    • Wow. Great discussion. I spoke with Keith Saturday night by phone about our congregation possibly hosting a Praise and Harmony workshop. I mentioned to him that as a worship leader I struggled with being “bashful”, for lack of a better word. The last thing I would ever want is to be seen as a performer or the center of attention. Yet, in attending 2 of his workshops over the last few years, it NEVER entered my mind that somehow Keith was doing anything but inspiring all the folks blessed to be there and he was anything but “bashful”. What’s wrong with me? God knows my heart; He knows I want to serve, lead and inspire, not perform. Yet I’m still “afraid” to be expressive fearing my fellow worshippers might think I’m somehow “performing”. Maybe I need to mind the intellectual argument; I’m communicating one way or another non-verbally, like it or not. It might as well be consistent with what we’re singing!

      • There’s nothing wrong with you, Joe! Did you know the number one fear is not death, snakes, heights, etc. . . It’s public speaking. I would think that this fear is increased when having to stand in front of a group of people to sing. We admit that it is difficult – – but the end result and blessing to the body of believers is indeed worth it.

      • Joe, welcome to the club! It is a fearful thing to be completely transparent in front of other people. It makes us vulnerable. No one likes to feel vulnerable and yes, the opportunity for personal attack is great. But if your motives are pure, God will give you the strength and the courage to keep pressing forward!

  16. Interesting comments. An article related to this topic came out today in the Christian Chronicle listing some issues that today’s youth are looking for in churches of Christ; one being a more spirit filled worship. Seems to dovetail nicely with this discussion. Our youth are sensing (for lack of a better word on my part) the “lifelessness” of many a corporate worship. They are showing us the need for something more than; 3 songs, a prayer, a song and then a message, by leaving the church in droves. They want a worship focused more on God and Christ’s great sacrifice. Certainly a worship well planned and prayed about, with flow, purpose, and emotional connection has value. Contrived emotion has no place, but sincere emotion while contemplating and celebrating the Christ is very, very valuable. Excellent topic. The church needs to spend more time discussing these matters.

  17. Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright (Ps 33:1) A wonderful sentiment…akin to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Php 4:4). Who determines what this looks like?
    When the Lord we worship was born of a woman…the angelic host praised him (Lk 2:13), the shepherds went back praising and glorifying (Lk 2:20) Mary treasured it in her heart (Lk 2:19). When He returns Matt 24 says there’ll be mourning, a trumpet call, angels, gathering….it all sounds rather emotional to me…so why not in the middle? I am pretty confident He want’s our hearts, our reality, our truth….a sacrificial living rather than ritualistic. We are fearfully and wonderfully made…why are we afraid to show emotion before one another, before God?

  18. One of the biggest barriers we face in “corporate worship” is all the baggage that comes from the last 1700 years of structured worship. Assemblies of believers prior to Christianity becoming the state religion of Rome in the 300s would be almost unrecognizable to us today. 1 Cor 14 gives us some insight into what an assembly looked like:

    26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
    29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

    The last verse of this passage is the one we see taught most often to justify having an order to our services. A careful reading of the entire passage shows that what Paul is really talking about here is being courteous and taking turns. “When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, …..” I can’t believe that those people weren’t passionate about what they had brought to the assembly. They expected to be involved in the assembly as participants not as an audience. They were a part of their worship.

    Someone earlier posted a comment about how our children are leaving us looking for something else. I submit that what they are looking for is the atmosphere of the early church. If we can find a way to truly restore that then we will all be more acceptable to our Lord.

  19. Jeff Hartline makes the point that God looks on the heart while man looks at the exterior. Someone may be worshiping emotionally but not appear (to us) to be so. Also, it is false to conclude that someone who is overtly demonstrating expression is more engaged than others. I agree with this point, Jeff. My question is, what about the situations where it is all too evident that assemblies are dead, lifeless and intentionally so?

  20. Life can be restored by the determination of one person in an assembly over time. Just like a plant shows a tiny bit of green as it exits the ground, it takes the light of the sun and rainshowers to blossom into a mature plant. There will be wind, storms, insects, etc. that will attempt to stunt its growth. But if it perseveres, it will be seen for what it is. A Believer who exhibits the humility, fruit, and expression of a “set apart” individual may be talked about in a negative way, but over time his/her life will outshine the rigidity of critics.

    • Beautiful analogy, Jeff. A first impression may be negative and mistaken. For example, someone may think a song leader is trying to perform when he is simply attempting to inspire others. Those who get to know that person better will (as you mention, “over time”) sense his true heart and motivation.

  21. Fun discussion to keep up with. Thank you, Keith, for keeping this very important discussion in front of so many local congregations each year and for bringing it up regularly on the world wide web. God knows our hearts and He wants us to share our hearts for Him with others. God is a great god and he deserves all glory, praise, and honor. Let us keep our eyes, hearts, minds, and souls focused on the Creator and King of Kings.

    • Great point, Steve. Too often we take the focus off of our Lord and we major in disagreements and selfish viewpoints. The most important question is: What does God want? He certainly deserves our very best in worship – which differs among individuals – and we should offer Him no less than our very best! That’s why lethargic, half-hearted assemblies are troubling in more ways than one.

  22. God, himself, gave us directions on how to handle our emotions, from the beginning. Remember in Genesis 4:5-7 “but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
    When we do what is right, then we “feel good” and have those good emotions (not vice versa, which is prominently taught today). Therefore, people need to be knowledgeable about worship and why they are doing what that are doing. I Cor. 14:15 “What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I WILL ALSO SING WITH THE UNDERSTANDING.” The church is failing to teach why we do what we do, and have turned it into a subjective learning, which basically means “do whatever feels best.” This is why we are told that the “older men/women teach the younger.” What are they to teach them? “We have been given all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the KNOWLEDGE of Him” 2 Peter 1:3.
    Keith, I appreciate what you are trying to do, and I appreciate your last point, “What does God want?” To make a long story short, some of what we have to contend with is the way our church buildings are arranged. We have continued to have everyone facing the back of other’ heads, with a someone on a stage facing the crowd. We have created an “audience” where there should not be. God is the audience in worship, and we all worship God together. Now, that doesn’t mean that we all have to hurry up and tear down our stages and rearrange our pews, but we certainly need to work together to remember who the true audience is – God. So, all of that being said, we can see from the beginning of time how emotions are to be handled.

  23. I would also like to say that congregations that take 5+ minutes to get through a song, and sing the same 5 funeral songs each week, cannot expect those who are coming out of the world to be encouraged enough to stay. I’m not saying that it’s about entertainment, but rather it is about encouragement and uplifting. Showing God how much He is worth to us. Worship comes from words for “worth.” Col. 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” We have a duty to each other in our singing, and we can show that excitement we have for our fellowship and worship, when we worship.

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