Have you ever heard that statement? I don’t really disagree, even though I don’t exactly agree either (e.g. it operates on a false assumption pointed out on a great post at Beyond Words that worship = music.) It’s a good post and I’m still thinking through all of it, but, for the moment, let me focus less on the metaphor itself or the semantics of “worship”, but more on the underlying assumption that being a “spectator” in worship (as in “corporately worshipping with music”) is bad. Which leads me to ask this question:
Who defines “spectator”?
I have at times felt very awkward because, when that statement was announced from the pulpit, it seemed like the admonishing one (usually a worship leader) was looking straight at me.
I have recently been realizing that, as an introvert in church, I look most like a spectator when I’m actually most fully engaged in worship.
This is not only true of me with regards to musically connected worship. The more engaged I am in any activity, the more serious I look. The more totally enraptured I am with someone or something in a given moment, the more still and silent I become.
I really like attending churches that leave space for emotions, for emotional expressions and for my emotions to be spoken to and delighted by the Holy Spirit. It is in those same churches, however, that I have sometimes felt the most awkward and the most stared at because of how silent and still I can be in worship. In those places, I may very well be the only one not clapping.
I may not, heaven forbid, even be smiling. Because another thing about me is that, sometimes when I’m very happy, I look very serious. (I just found this quote from one of the first blog posts I ever wrote: “But in some of my happiest, most contented moments, I have also been awed into facial blankness.” The post, incidentally, was called, “Being Happy and Not Smiling”. )
I was recently thinking that perhaps I’m a Quiet Charismatic. I have been called a Quiet Renegade before, but that’s a little bit different 🙂 .
In any case, as a quiet charismatic, it’s not so much that I need a quiet church as it is that I long for a place where a quiet expression of emotions is not looked down on or judged as “falling short”.
I have been in quiet churches, where it felt like there was no breathing space for emotions, or for me as an emotional person. I have also been in more lively churches where “emotional expression” was so loaded with expectations of how that is supposed to look, that I also felt like it was hard to breathe.
This is not about trying to create a fantasy ideal church–the ME church that works, first and foremost for me. (Click “preview” to see a miniature version of the complete video)
It has been helpful, though, to think about how to begin to be comfortable with being myself and with making myself at home wherever I worship and with whomever I’m worshipping.
Just admitting that some of these things are hard for me helps me feel less on edge when I’m in a situation that is not totally comfortable or where I feel conspicuous because my silence or stillness seems to be rather loudly drawing attention to me. And perhaps even causing me to look unspiritual or unmoved by the Spirit, at the times when I am most moved or touched by the Holy Spirit. I’m learning to be okay with that being between me and the Holy Spirit, and not concern myself so much with what other people may see or think they see. (I’ve got a long way to go, still, though 🙂 )