A while back, I was sent a video of some children in a church, singing, dancing, and “getting caught up in the Spirit.” It was supposed to be funny (particularly, the getting “caught up” part), but while watching, I wasn’t amused. It simply reminded me of how our children aren’t being taught the Word of God and what it really means to honor and praise Him. Instead, they’re being taught performance and “emotionalism,” masked as spirituality.
In many minds today, if church isn’t “live,” meaning, a preacher doesn’t “hoop,” or no one is “compelled” to fall out, or the music doesn’t make one want to “dance,” or if something doesn’t happen to excite the emotions, it’s not church… and that is quite sad.
But, why is this? What has caused the idea that if there’s no buffoonery taking place, it’s not church?
Well, the majority of churches, particularly black churches (not saying other races/ethnicities, or mixed congregations, don’t have their issues in churches as well), have been conditioned to a certain standard for worship services. And that standard, strangely, doesn’t include thoroughly teaching the Word of God and honoring Him, but instead includes performance (as mentioned above)—“good” singing, loud shouting and falling out, “tongue” speaking (a totally different post in itself), pastors screaming and hollering (about God knows what) into the microphone, or trying to force “demons” out of members (which is futile, as true believers cannot be inhabited by demons, cf. John 8:36).
And, sisters, this shouldn’t be.
As I learned when I got older and began to study God’s Word for myself (because I went to these types of churches during my youth, and have been in and visited quite a few in adulthood), we must take our standards from God’s Word. And His Word tells us that true and proper worship, in His eyes, is the giving of ourselves to Him (Romans 12:1). It’s hearing and obeying His commands (John 14:23). It’s loving Him with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength (Mark 12:30).
True worship, leaders, imitates Christ. And Christ, during His ministry period on Earth, didn’t seek to please self. He didn’t seek to “shout” the people that followed Him, for His glorification. He didn’t seek to give people feel good, false messages, which would elevate Himself. He didn’t seek performance. Christ sought to please His Father, to deliver people, to teach them the truths of God, and to bring them into the Kingdom of God.
That said, let us not go to church for a show (but to learn of God), and let us determine not to be a part of the show. (If your current church is “showy,” it’s time to start seeking out a new one, one that adheres to and teaches the Word of God. If you’re a leader conducting a “showy” church, it’s time to revamp.)
Yes, sometimes we’ll be moved to tears during service. Yes, sometimes we’ll be moved to give thanks aloud. Yes, we’ll be moved to lift our hands in praise to God… and these things are okay (and good). As long as our praise stems from a pure heart and pure motives, and aligns with the words of God, it is acceptable in the eyes of God.