Time to Worship, so Sit Down and Shut Up

June 30, 2010

I visited a new church last Sunday.

Visiting churches can be scary.  But my wife and I were out of town on Sunday, and I don’t believe in skipping worship just because God has blessed us with the means to go on vacation.  (Plus, God gives extra points for vacation church, and extra extra points for bragging about it.)  So we drove down the street and picked a church based solely on their meeting time. 

I’ve visited many churches and experienced many types of worship.  But I had forgotten how long it had been since I was outside my comfort zone.  The people were friendly and all that.  Though the pastor and praise team were absolutely not comfortable with any stray moment of silence.  They were saying, “Praise the Lord,” and “Thank you, Jesus,” like it was a nervous, spastic tic, even when it made no sense.  This continued on for an hour and a half, at the end of which my wife and I were saying, “Sweet Jesus, let’s get out of here and eat lunch!”

It reminded me how diverse worship is, and how I’m only comfortable with a small slice of it.  Really, a lot of worship makes me uncomfortable.  I want to emphasize that I have nothing against Christians who worship differently than me.  I’m just uncomfortable around them.  So I started wondering if I should just be more comfortable with Christians who worship differently from me, or if they should take a seat and not draw so much attention to themselves. 

I came up with five types of Christian worshippers.  Which one are you?

The Keep-It-to-Yourself Christian

This is the least distracting Christian.  This person sits quietly, stands when they’re supposed to, and hardly makes any audible sounds.  If anything spiritual is going on with this person, only God knows about it.  Some more boisterous Christians might be tempted to be annoyed with this guy, but hey, he just doesn’t care to put on a show for your sake. 

The Self-Conscious Christian

This is me.  I sing the songs, but not too loud, because I can’t carry a tune.  I’ll tap the chair in front of me with my hands and kind of move around, but I have a really hard time moving my hands higher then waist height because: A) my arms are so manly that I don’t want to cause my sisters in Christ to stumble, and B) because I know by putting my hands up in the air, the guy behind me won’t be able to see the screen.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve got sweet dance moves (ask my wife.)  I’ve been in several Black Eye Peas videos as a body double for Will.i.am (well, that’s not true.)  I just don’t rock dat body in worship.

The Non-Stop Talk Christian

This is the person who, like the people in the church we visited, seem deathly afraid of any moment of silence during worship.  Thus, this person has been gifted with speaking in tongues…or failing that, just saying, “Praise God,” again and again.  If they’re really gifted, they’ll be appointed to pray, and will litter their prayers with copious “Lord God” phrases, as if God needs to reminded we’re talking to Him.  Maybe we should start snapping our fingers to get God’s attention.  And if you get two or more of these people in the same room, you have a showdown on your hands as they see who can be more encouraging with their ad-lib God-shout-outs.

The Front Row Christian

The front row in church is a very special place.  I don’t go there, and it isn’t because I’m afraid of being that close to God, who obviously is huddling inside the pulpit, feeding the pastor his lines.  No, I’m not a front row Christian, because it’s obviously a gang of Christians who I don’t fit in with.  I don’t know what it is about the front row.  Why are people in the front row so often the ones drawing everyone’s attention?  There’s always a front row-er who’s the loudest in the room, with their hands raised highest (thus, I never learn the lyrics of any songs.)  Does the front row attract attention seekers, or does it convert them into loud, raucous worshippers?  Or are they just trying to set an example for the rest of us?  Which came first: the front row, or the front row Christian?

The Only-Person-Doing-That Christian

For a special few Christian soldiers, the front row just can’t contain them.  It’s okay for amatuers, but once you graduate from stretching your hands to block everyone’s view and yelling over everyone so God can hear you, you have to start to make your own way.  Every once in a while you’ll meet one of these people who’s totally comfortable with doing something no one else is doing.  Last week, a woman (of course, in the front row) decided the third verse of the second song was just the right moment to start waving a flag.  Yes, a flag.  A cloth on a stick, which she brought from home.  That was new to me, but she was going to town with that thing.  I don’t know why she had to be in the front row.  I felt a definate draft from the air conditioner from my vantage point.  Her flag would’ve fluttered for Jesus just fine where I was sitting, halfway back.  At another church I witnessed a woman doing an interpretive dance (also up front, obviously).  I don’t know if this woman had mixed up church with her yoga class, but she came prepared, wearing a leotard and everything. 

I’ve still never been to a snake handling church.  And there’s always been lots of ways people have worshipped.  People have praised God by speaking in tongues, rolling on the floor and barking like dogs (Yes.  Apparently the barkers made John Wesley a tad uncomfortable.)  I’m glad I wasn’t visiting church in ancient Israel on “Circumcision Day.”  That would be almost as uncomfortable as trying to escape a Baptist church without responding to the altar call.

I just can’t figure it out.  I try to love other Christians and accept their worship.  But I can’t deny that their worship definately interferes with my worship.  I’m sitting there, trying not to stare at someone flailing around in the front row when I should be focused on God. 

What do you think?  What kind of worshipper are you?  Does anything go when it comes to church?  Should I get off my throne of judgement, or should the people in the front row take a seat and blend in?

60 responses to Time to Worship, so Sit Down and Shut Up

  1. Yay! first again! First thanks for stopping by my site…was a pleasant surprise.
    On to your post…lmao again. Lol at circumsion sunday ewww. I’m not sure i fit into any one category im probably an amalgam of the self-conscious christian and the front row Christian…although i tend to exhibit front row behavior from the middle row….does that make me a middle row christian?

    Ah…i believe i am a middle row Christian….a perfect blend of worship…not in your face and not a ‘living stone’:-p

  2. I think the only proper way to worship the Lord is to wake at 3 a.m., go out to our swimming pool, float on an air mattress, gaze up at the stars, and pray… I can’t imagine how “sprinklers” manage to worship; they make me uncomfortable.

  3. “…God, who obviously is huddling inside the pulpit, feeding the pastor his lines.”

    Oh, don’t we just wish?

  4. omg…this is hilarious…it made me laugh out loud. I vary in my worship styles…but definitely prefer the more low key style. The craziest I get is raising my hands, and sometimes swaying and clapping. but i see these people you talk about. My husband and i were doing some mission work in nicaragua a couple of months ago and at the church we visited there was some serious front row people.

  5. I heard Louie Giglio quote 2 Corinthians 5:13 to a bunch of ‘overly loud’ kids at a Passion event in Cape Town.

    He was saying “There is a time for the way you are behaving and it is not now.” or “Take into account what is happening before you express yourself”.

    I hope that neither he nor I have messed up the interpretation of that verse :)

  6. I so rock the front row.

    I get torn between sitting in the way front and the way back when I’m engaged in worship. If I’m in the way front, I do worry a little bit about being a distraction to other less…exuberant worshipers. But, if I sit in the back, I’m going to feel more inhibited in my worship and quite frankly, that doesn’t really work for me either.

    Obviously as one of the more enthusiastic types, I tend to believe in the “anything goes” model. ;-D Ultimately though, I had to come to realization that worship isn’t about me and my comfort level. So sometimes I sit in the back and let people have a break. And sometimes I sit in the front and raise my arms and sing loud.

    But I think I’m going to pass on the leotard.

    • Alise, thank you so much for commenting! I'm so glad to hear from a front row Christian, who, ironically is somewhat inhibited by the Christians in my part of the room.

  7. The continuous cryer? I’m the one toward the front row who bawls her eyes out at nearly every song. Not THE front row, because a raised stage and progressive lenses just don’t mix. I dab my eyes & blow my nose with kleenex as unobtrusively as possible, then squirt with purse-size Purell just prior to the “greet the person next to you” portion of the service. Timing the nose blow is an art. You have to do it in sync with the drummer or you ruin the worship experience for everyone.

    • Ha! That's great. I'm so glad you've turned your nasal passages into a finely purcussion instrument that can keep a perfect beat with the music!

    • Oh Candy! I’m a crying nose blower, too! We don’t do the “greet the person next to you”, but have a sign of peace (hand shaking) toward the end of mass. I usually walk out a few minutes ahead of time to go wash my hands. I feel awkward about using the Purell directly before shaking someone’s hand, but I SO get you! I was going to comment about being a crier in the fourth or fifth row. But now I apparently don’t need to..

  8. I am both the Self-Conscious Christian and the Front Row Christian. The front row is because I’m the service coordinator, which means I tell people when it’s time to go up and pray, and I run up to the sound booth when there’s something they need to know – like the first soloist has gone AWOL (into the choir loft) with the mic that we were expecting to use later in the service.

    I do sometimes sway to the music, but my hands never go above my waist. I’m not opposed to clapping, but I have to be able to see others clap so I can follow them because my sense of rhythm isn’t all that, um, trustworthy. Because of where I’m seated, the only distractions come from the choir, and darn it, wouldn’t you know, some of them are hand raisers. I don’t think any of them were raised Baptist.

  9. *I keep my eyes open during prayer*

  10. At times I have been all of the above. And as stated – and what makes your descriptions so funny – is that they have all been abused.

    In the Episcopal Church we were called the ceiling scratchers. At the Nazarene church they were the Holy Rollers; laying on the floor laughing in the aisles. I think I am going to make up some for Urban Dictionary.

    In South American churches they put you on the platform, or in the front row. There are no choices. I don’t like it there. I want to worship with some semblance of privacy. One time I was forced into the front row because all the back ones were empty. The power of God was so amazing one could not stand up. So I sat through the entire 2 hour service. It was a real treat and I never would have picked it.

    Sometimes I like to stand in the back and pray, other times I am on the worship team… but my favorite is when the worship is so powerful I just get to close my eyes and worship when I don’t see anyone around me and it doesn’t matter what the words are. Occasionally I am sacrilegious, and can do it with a Large Iced Mocha Grande in hand!

  11. Lately, I’ve been a “Keep it to yourself” kind of guy. Like I’ve been not singing because I’m really reading the words to the praise songs, because let’s face it, how many times can we repeat, “You make everything glorious” and it still be effective?

    I actually sit in the 3rd row because that’s where all my friend sit. To be honest though, I have my bible open to the reading and a pen and I write blog ideas on the bulletin.

    I always chuckle when people give the “Mmmm” sound of agreement like they’re having an orgasm or something. I’m not a clapper either because after awhile it just hurts my hands. Although recently I’ve started keeping my eyes open during service. Shameless blog plug but here’s the link, http://nicodemusatnite.blogspot.com/2010/06/not-c

    Awesome and insightful post Matt.

    nicodemusatnite.blogspot.com

  12. In our church, the teens have a reserved section. It’s the middle set of pews, from the first row all the way to the 5 row or so. I’m a youth worker and we always sit with them. Sometimes kids get a little squirrely during the service, but for the most part they’re pretty respectful. This one time we were a little late for worship so we had to sit somewhere else and we sat behind NON-STOP chatterers. Seriously. They talked and giggled through the ENTIRE worship time. Adults. Women. Irritating and loud. I’m used to shushing kids, but how do you flick a full grown woman on the back of the head and tell them to shut it without raising a ruckus?

  13. Oh my goodness. Crackin up all over the place. I go to a charismatic church and I’m with Cindy in that I’m the crier in the front row. I’ve tried sitting back a ways but then am SO easily distracted by people’s hair and clothes and everything else that I can’t focus. And I hate bumping into my husband because we both get really sway happy. So now we sit close to the front. I fear that people make bets like, “Ok, I think Stacey will be crying by song 3 in worship today.” Because I’d do something like that.
    But I get SOOOO overjoyed at what the Lord has rescued me from and brought me through that I weep like a new widow.
    But I was raised Catholic. Where you don’t even smile at church, much less sway or tap or breathe.
    I recently visited a church back in Minnesota that was like my church being in a coma. And I thought that people who visit my church would maybe feel like they were stuck in a seizure. Or at a carnival, but no rides.

  14. I suppose I’m an odd hybrid of Front Row Christian and Keep it to Yourself Christian. I sit on the front row, but I’m quiet and fairly still. I think God gives me bonus points for sitting in the front row because that’s what my pastor lovingly calls “the spit zone”.

    Also, I am know going to start praying for a pool, so like @John Cowart, I can lay on a float and pray 😉

    • In our current church I’ve tended to sit all the way in the back, mainly because I need a special chair to accommodate my “width” and there just aren’t any extra spaces up front. That was back when my wife was Children’s Ministry director, and she was always “next door” during service. I discovered, after they rearranged the sanctuary area to fit more chairs in, that there were a couple of gaps in front. Knowing that my wife was going to be joining me in service the following week (turning the kids over to someone else for a while) and that she’s a major-league front-row type, I sat up there. My pastor referred to being within “spitting range” as well. I think I said something about “it works both ways, dude.” I also thought about going out to my car and bringing back an umbrella, but I didn’t do that … yet.

  15. I’m a front row-er. In Bible college, you could always find me front left on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in chapel. I would toe the line–literally, as we met in the gym–to be absolutely in the front.

    Today, since my wife is more of a “back row Christian,” we stand in the back. I sing loudly enough so that the worship team up front can hear me over their amplifiers, monitors and whatnot. Technology can’t beat me!

    Why?

    I do much of it to try to encourage people. Of course, how encouraging a loud kid singing completely off beat and out of tune is, I’m not sure. I don’t mind the spotlight, but I don’t really want people focusing on me. So, I don’t think this is based on a desire for people to think I’m cool, but rather if someone has to be up front, loud and all hand-raising… might as well be me.

    ~Luke

  16. I love this, although I’m not really sure which category of yours I fit. I’m somewhere between the keep-it-to-yourself Christian and the Self-Conscious Christian. In High School, I was the Front-Row Christian, but I was not at ALL like you’ve described. I was still the keep-it-to-yourself/self-conscious type, I just sat front row. I sat there because I liked to be close to what was going on – also, it helped me pay attention to the sermon better, and also, kept me from being distracted by other styles of worship (ever think that’s a reason to sit up there? haha!) I sat front-row in all my classes my first year and a half of college too, then I got “cool” or something. LOL. I still sit pretty close though 3rd-5th rows typically.

    Anyway, in the church I attend when at college, the “Only-Person-Doing-That” Christian’s actually are not in the front. There are quite a few of these types as it’s a fairly charismatic church. Most of them stand in the side aisles or in the rather large empty space behind all of the seats. I’ve seen some of them dancing, some of them lie on the floor, some of them sit in a sort-of bowing position…They’re really kind of interesting to watch, but yeah, it does take away from my worshipping – it’s good they do it out of sight though. Most of them are not trying to put on a show, they just feel close to God that way or something. :)

    I’m not really for telling others what they should do (unless it’s blatantly sinful, y’know?), but I would definitely PREFER if the out-there worshippers did not sit front-row and moved to the back. :) But, I guess I’m not the one in charge, haha!

  17. I’m a self-conscious worshiper who wishes he could be a “The-Only-Person-Doing-That” worshiper. I don’t always feel like going crazy, but if I truly felt God’s presence, I’d really like to feel comfortable enough to express it.

  18. Self-conscious/keep-it-to-yourself person here.

    I’ve really never seen the need to get emotional during church services… even though I am thoroughly Pentecostal in my theology. I’ve always been very emotionally reserved, and when I was in high school I was singled out as being “backslidden” because I wasn’t joining in the exuberant worship at our church that occurred during an extended outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I responded by saying that outward appearance != someone’s heart, and pointed out my classmates’ blatant hypocrisy as evidence, but to no avail. Decade plus later, and I’m the only one who even goes to church, much less walking with Christ. So maybe it’s because I was burned so badly by church leadership when I was a teenager when it came to worship.

    Well, it could either be that or the guy who comes randomly to our church that my younger brother dubbed “Christian Jazz Hands.” He’s so absorbed in worship that the over/under of him hitting someone with his arms as he dances about the aisle is 1.5. Heck, I’ve been mugged by him a couple of times myself!

  19. I have to admit I was a little afraid to read the comments on this one! I guess my style is sort of in the moment. I like to be exuberant, but I definitely don’t mind silence. I’ll get down on my knees or raise my hands and I don’t have to be in the front row to do that. As someone who leads worship, I of course want everyone to be passionate about singing and music but I know that’s not how it works. I just trust that God is moving and pray people respond as I try to respond. I realize it’s pretty cliche to say it, but if people will get all crazy and exuberant at a football game or a rock concert why can’t we get excited when we worship God and consider all the great things He’s done for us? The key there is WHEN IT’S APPROPRIATE, but that’s for another comment… :)

  20. You forgot to mention my type: we’re “church talkers.” I’m very engaged in the service and deeply respectful of what is going on, but if I’m sitting near someone I like, I just can’t help sharing. I get shushed by my family a lot.

  21. LMBO!!! Oh my goodness, you outdid yourself with this one. So classic!

    By the way, as a girl who has attended either Pentecostal or Charasmatic churches all her life, I am an expert at the most demonstrative of worshippers. The barkers, the cluckers, the screamers and shouters, the dancers and runners, the fainters and prophesiers! I’ve seen flag waving, interpretive dancers, ladies with streamers and boys with cymbals.

    Sadly, I am a worshipper such as yourself, Matt. My husband, raised in the Catholic church is in that first group. But I remain ensconced in the second. Which means I’ve spent nearly my whole life looking like an oddball. If you can’t even do a little moonwalk shuffle when the organist plays THAT chord, like I can’t, well, yeah, obviously my worship… needs Jesus.

    If only I could find a nice Wesleyan church…

    • Thank you for commenting! I'm so glad I got to hear from some "first row" types, (though I'm aware there are churches full of first row types.) It's funny how so many of our denominations seem to be drawn along the lines of whether we stand still or get moving in worship.

  22. I go to a church where the most that will happen is a little clapping every once in a while.

    I don’t clap.

    Lady in the front row please sit down.

    Lady behind me please keep your tongues to yourself (went to a tongue speaking church once and the lady behind me, without warning, stood up and started screaming loud gibberish. I about had a heart attack)

  23. First, Leotard Woman is nuts. She needs mental help. I’m just sayin.’ Met one of her kind before and oh my! Only that one decided it wasn’t enough to show up in a sparkling leotard to sunday school, but she had to go a step further and call the Sunday School teacher at his home at 3 a.m.

    Anyway…

    I’m the self-concious Christian and my husband is the keep-it-to-yourself Christian. Only he’s not very keep-it-to-yourself when it comes to witnessing.

  24. I have to wonder though how sincere these people are if they are trying to draw attention to themselves. There’s nothing wrong with raising your hand or hands in worship, but all the other things you mentioned seems a little insincere. Clapping is okay. Personally, I like to hear every word of the pastor’s sermon without a thousand people saying Amen. Once in a while is okay to say Amen, but you have to be good at it. You have to puncuate the sermon at just the right spot. I call them the Amen guys.

  25. In all due respect to front rowers, it does matter what church you go to. If your church has every row clanging cymbals, etc, then you’re not likely to stand out. Still, in a church that that behavior isn’t typical, you have to wonder about the sincerity.

    • You're right at the heart of the question. Since we're given very few instructions on worship, we're kind of on our own to decide what's "appropriate" and edifying to the body. I just might be more exhuberant if I were raised in an exhuberant church. We likely inherit many of our preferences, even our worship. The whole sincerity question complicates matters even more, and it's one that I bring up a lot – to myself, and to others.

      • Well, I was raised in the happy-clappy churches, and I’m just not too demonstrative. I don’t mind most other people being expressive (but the leotard lady is a bit much for even me), it’s just I usually like to keep it to singing, clapping (and on beat, woot woot!) and MAYBE an arm raise.

        But no, I’m not going to go into a cha cha slide, Holy Ghost style. Never have, never will unless a miracle occurs. Or the organist inexplicably plays the “Cha Cha Slide” while the worship leader gives instructions. “One hop this time. Two hops this time. Now sliiide to the right…”

  26. I’m one of those ‘keep -it-to-yourself’ and ‘self-conscious’ mixes. But I enjoy being with any other type of worshipper if I can sense that whatever they are doing is a genuine heart felt expression and not to show off or get attention.

    I guess King David must have been a ‘one-of-a-kind’ type when he was dancing naked in front of God. And which God greatly approved of because it was done from the heart. Just think what a distraction that must have been, lol!

  27. Our worship pastor actually did a sermon on “how to worship” that encouraged people to focus on God and not worry about what others are thinking. He laid down loose guidelines so everyone knew what was appropriate. It helped a lot.

    I’m a “don’t rock the boat” type to begin with, so I’m not that demonstrative in worship, but many in our church are. If I find them distracting, I simply close my eyes (another good reason to memorize song lyrics).

    We used to sit in the front row when our kids were little because they behaved much better when they knew the pastor could see them.

  28. Definitely a Keep-it-to-Yourself Christian. And yet I pray that I don’t keep it to myself outside the walls of the church building.

    Isn’t it a blessing that no matter what ones style of worship, there is a congregation somewhere nearby where any one of these types of worshipper will fit in!

    We travel a lot and have visited many congregations. But the morning we find ourselves in a setting where they bring out the snakes, there will be a David-shaped hole in the nearest wall!

  29. Yay! You’re back! Speaking of worship styles, after praise team practice last night, my friend Tam showed me the following video on youtube. I think you’ll agree this is the sort of thing we should all strive for:

    A Renewed Mind is the Key

  30. You should visit the Wesley Foundation at the University of Georgia—there’s like a mosh pit of front row Christians, people laying down, all sorts of random shout outs at any moment, and even lots of “free worship” dancing. Like people dancing so long and hard they work up a sweat. And this goes on anywhere from 8-11ish every Wednesday night. It’s a bit intense.

    I’m definitely a middle row Christian–I’ll sway and keep the beat with my hands on the chair in front of me, but the front row freaks me out and I’m too distractable for the back…

  31. I’m a “none of the above” type. So far it has depended on which church I’ve attended (all of 3 through my life … no, I wasn’t “raised in church,” by the way).

    Before I met my wife I was in the church choir. This was a “traditional” “liturgical” (gag) church that wouldn’t know what to do with the Holy Spirit if He ever showed up. That was definitely not the place I would’ve imagined myself being, but the pastor at the time was indeed guided by the Spirit, and he had discernment more so than anybody who has ever preached on the subject. When I moved from literally in front of the front row to the sound board (because the feedback was killing my dog-whistle-hearing ears), I literally changed from one end of the sanctuary to the other. There I continued to sing loud, to help those around me (and it worked).

    Then we were “encouraged” to leave there and went to a Calvary Chapel. I mention which group it belongs to only because they’re smart. They’re “Charismatic” to the “liturgical” crowd, and too quiet for the “charismaniacs.” This one, like most of them, have zero problem with the gifts of the Spirit, but there’s an emphasis on doing things “decently and in order.” Someone trying to pull an impromptu interpretive dance, for example, would be asked to leave, unless it was intentional and on stage. (One nearly deaf lady would sign for the deaf, but she would flow with the music so beautifully, it was almost like interpretive dance.)

    Still, I found myself distracted by some others. In our “old” sanctuary, I was a front-row person, mainly because that produced the optimum sound volume. Too far back or too far to the left or the right would be an assault to my ears (that have heard dog whistles, remember? They also create major headaches when hit with volumes that most people find “comfortable” or hard to hear.). By that time I was married to a “front-row Christian.” Sadly, I had to depart from the new & improved sanctuary after they kept cranking up the volume. Sorry, but suffering from a migraine-strength headache & nausea (from the bass drum impact on my Lap-Band just above my stomach) doesn’t encourage a worshipful attitude, and leaves me more than distracted during the message. Oh, by the time the new 2,100-seat sanctuary was online, I was pretty much stuck sitting in a few select areas, because they went from armless chairs to theater seating with fixed arms, and there were maybe a dozen seats wide enough for me to fit in.

    As I said in a reply to Marni, I’m having to fine-tune my placement. I like being “up front” in part to harass the pastor (at the appropriate times, of course!), and my wife prefers it up there, but the current worship team is pushing the volume again. This time, though, the building wasn’t optimized for consistent sound throughout, so the back may be safe, if my wife can stand it.

    As far as attitude of worship goes, I will raise my hands when I feel like it, not when somebody tells me it’s time to do so. (In fact, if the song lyrics mention raising one’s hands, I’ll almost always drop ’em. You can always tell us non-conformists, I’m told, because we all look alike.) More often than not I’ll pat out a secondary percussion rhythm on my legs with my hands. I usually sing, unless I need to really listen to the lyrics, or my voice is out for repair. I get *so* distracted even by the “Baptist dancers” who pump one leg to the beat for 2 beats, then shift their weight to the other leg, and repeat. Then again, I am easily distracted no matter what.

    • Whoa, I messed up the “church choir” paragraph. Definitely need sleep. What I meant was that I wouldn’t have imagined myself in a church choir — in front of people!!! — in a million years. Or 18, since that’s how old I was when I did that. (I can still do a good basso/baritone. Too bad current P&W [Praise & Worship] music only has guy parts for guys whose guy parts are a little squeezed.)

  32. I am a combination of three of these. But in reality I think it boils down to motives.

    I love being a “front row Christian” for a few reasons. Focus. Sitting in back distracts ME because of everyone’s movements and my vision is bad. What good is sitting up front solely to be seen?

    In general I am reserved but I can be a “can’t keep it to yourself Christian” and the “only person”. But if God is moving I don’t want to NOT worship Him. So for me, it is motive. I have lived my Christian life trying to please others and fit into a Christian box that many times went against my heart and soul in worship and walking with the Lord. I want to be me and keep my motives pure.

  33. Matt,
    I pastor a church and have been given the opportunity to speak in many places and have encountered the very same things you just described. Your comments are hilarious! Hard not to judge when you are trying the worship God, while dodging flags and averting your eyes from leotard wearing praizzercizers. To each his own, but I tend to lean on Paul’s word in 1 Corinthians 14:40 which says, “But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly manner.” (NIV) Great blog Matt!!!

  34. I used to be pretty inhibited…but I’ve gotten much more adventerous lately. I realized that worshipping God is not something I do because I feel like it, but a command. God deserves my worship ALL the time because of who he is. So why would I let my inhibitions or attitude get in the way? I’m a hand raiser and I sing. Sometimes I cry. This is all in a very modern service with the lights low and a worship band. In regular sit-down-shut-up-don’t-move church I avoid doing anything that would be seen as a distraction.

  35. That’s very considerate of you…hiding your manly arms from your Christian sisters! 😛

  36. House Church/Intentional community type here. I will say that I have been most of those types in my day. Mostly front row.

  37. I’m the self-concious Christian, but a bit more “into it” than my husband during worship.

    Funny though in my church, our youth group teens have taken over the front 2 rows entirely. I’m thinking maybe it was to bump a front-rower to the back?

  38. I really enjoyed what you shared Matt. It really was so funny and many of the comments cracked me up. I’m less self-conscious than I was a few years ago, but I’m still pretty quiet. I like to think of every act of obedience wherever I am as worship. I felt like dancing around today when my friend of a few years told me she was healed of fibroid tumors and her 2 kids are asking if they can go to church now. You see, she was going to the Hindu temple and she knows that Jesus healed her. But I stayed still in spite of his presence there as she told me at the skating rink. Maybe,one of The-Only-Person-doing-That’s would have turned a cartwheel then, I’m not sure.

  39. I’m a Romans 12:02 worshipper. Is there any other way?

  40. Oh my gosh…I haven’t laughed that hard in a while……not sure where I stand on that one, but I was a little saddened at church on sunday when not one but 3 people shushed (in a very hissing sort of way) a 3 year old! in church when she whispered…(she was incredibly well behaved the whole service….) yet nobody shushed the ADULTS whispering about shopping behind me or the person with the REALLY loud high heals walking back and forth through the gym….just on the topic of distractions.

    I don’t know when distractions shift from being the “fault” of the distractor to the “ditractee”…

  41. Great post Matt. I wonder if Sunday mornings is less about how we worship and more about developing the grace required to worship alongside others? Because I fall terribly short in that kind of grace.
    Shawn Smucker recently posted..Five Final Thoughts on “Love Wins” and then I’m finished

  42. This is a great causerie, mr. Matt. I stumbled on it from far across the physical and spiritual world, being an atheist from Norway.

    Now, I may have heard that my kind is difficult to digest in certain areas of the Americas, at least according to Fox News. I deduce from your well-written words that you are slightly more reflected, though, and perhaps you would even delight in reading about my probably erraneous view on the workings of a faithful community.

    I must open with saying that I respect people of all faiths, unless they insult or injure others (like the WBC, or more sickeningly, the crazy gunman we had over here). I do attend the occasional cermon, too, especially when travelling, out of an interest for architecture. This is in order to experience how the cathedral or church serves the use it is built for. Accomodating people, directing them in their worship and serving them the words of the pastor.

    Anyway, I find it weird how differently this seems to be working in Europe and the States – granted, the Norwegian state church is a protestant church in a secular country, but these loud Christians are a non-present phenomenon altogether. No one speaks unless it’s part of the liturgy. The priest may sing “God be praised”, and everyone chants “Amen” thrice, but it’s not the groovy, soulful cry of a person (perchance easily) touched with the joy of Jesus. It’s mandatory and solemn. I don’t know. The loud ones may frequent different, less public churches. I think if I sincerely believed that there was an ultimate being (and that it cared about me), I’d scream for hours each day off the top of my lungs, if I dared – I imagine the mere thought would drive me insane with fear and joy. Mostly fear.

    I don’t believe, of course, and thus raise an eyebrow to those that do so loudly. To ME it seems like attention-seeking and attempts to 1-up each other, similar to how humans behave in, well, all other settings. The difference is that the other Christians don’t seem to be certain enough in how they think their God wants them to be, so they are reluctant to tell their fellow worshiper to shut up (like you did). What if God wants people to yell passionately? It seems it’s difficult to get an answer to these things unless you believe more in your friendly neighborhood pastor’s interpretation of the bible, than just the bible itself.

    So how do you know? There is a difference here than with other venues of life. I can have my own opinion about how much noise should be made in the theatre. If it differs from everyone elses, I will be downvoted, or thrown out. But for you guys, there is a slightly intangible but nevertheless definitive bluebrint. In heaven. And he speaks through your own thoughts in a way that can be misinterpreted as, well, your own thoughts.

    Please remember, these are just observations sifted through the logic of an unbeliever. They might be blasphemic, questioning God and all that, but do not take them as an insult, for they are not meant as such. I am curious as to what a reflected Christian might think of the oddities that pop up when pondering the howtos of worship.

    With all respect,
    Jack

  43. Jack, your questions were certainly not disrespectful, nor blasphemic. I can’t speak for any other Believer in Jesus, but for me, I’ve discovered that God is big enough to handle any and all of our questions. Your sincere interest in discussing the things of God is a trait that I, for one, wish more of the pew-sitters had.
    I love this blog and hope to get over to it more often.

  44. Thanks a ton for utilizing free time to post “Time to Worship, so Sit Down and Shut Up | The Church of
    No People”. Thank you once again ,Margo
    Alvaro recently posted..Alvaro

  45. This is the best part: That would be almost as uncomfortable as trying to escape a Baptist church without responding to the altar call. hahah

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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Glynn Young and Matt @ TCoNP. Matt @ TCoNP said: What kind of worshipper are you? I came up with 5 types, and three of them make me really uncomfortable. http://wp.me/sSZSu-663 […]