Monday, January 21, 2008

Worship Through the Eyes of an Unbeliever

I often wonder what unbelievers might think of our worship gatherings on Sunday mornings. I think the longer we are Christians, the harder it is for us to remember what it was like when we were far from Christ.

Our worship environment is pretty open to people's individual response to what God is doing in their heart. It's not uncommon to see people raising their hands, kneeling, or crying throughout entire songs. At the same time, there can be someone on the next row with his hands in his pockets looking very uncomfortable.

And we're supposed to somehow craft a worship gathering that encompasses these two polar opposites. Sometimes I see how the "seeker" route became so attractive for churches during the late 90's. Simply cater to one group on Sundays and another group midweek. Eliminate the dilemma of making unbelievers feel "uncomfortable" and believers feel spoon fed.

So what do unbelievers, non-convinced people think when they are in an environment like ours? We just kind of go after God and hope that He shows Himself to them. I do talk to the "newcomers" and try to let them know what to expect. Our Pastor speaks directly to both groups of people and does so effectively. But do they look at us with our hands in the air or sobbing in on the second row and think: "What a bunch of Freaks!"

I don't know. It's messy...but it's good. Have you guys ever asked someone that's not a believer how they experience our worship gatherings? What kind of responses have you heard?


  1. TIm,

    Hemant makes a comment about this in his book. He talks about he raisng of hands, and while visiting a black church some woman kept sayin " Yes Jesus" He said it was annoying, but at the same time from a believers apect, would you expect him to feel any different. He has never felt what it's like to be moved by the Holy sPIRIT. I mean if I went to a mosque, I would probably feel a little wierd about the way they bow with their faces to the floor continuously. Thanks for the help on my blog.

    Nick Beam

  2. tim,

    sorry. one more thing. In the scriptures, Paul was talking about prophecy and tounges.He said with that prophecy was much better because when a nonbeliever comes to a service he can see that God is among us

  3. This reminds me of a couple of Sundays ago when someone from the crowd busted out with a loud "YEAH!" right after we had finished a new song in the order.

    Later, I found out it was your brother, Nick. He shared how he had just finished reading a book where the author talks about how he had attended a worship service and was looking around thinking that the people didn't even look like they were enjoying themselves.

    Nick was so moved by that statement that he decided to shake things up a bit - i.e. he yelped and very loudly I might add! But it was great!

    This too got me thinking about what we as believers may or may not be communicating to others who are far from Christ. You’re right, it is a good and sticky place to be. I personally have to express myself to God and find it difficult to keep my hands at my side (this in no way applies that others are wrong for not doing the same). At the same time, I can't say I've cheered and shouted like someone at a football game either. This is the sticky place you mentioned, being free in Christ to express ourselves to Him, but also having sensitivity to those among us that are not believers.

    My hope is that I would be drawn into deeper waters as I walk each day with Him and from those depths, I would experience His freedom in such a way that I can't help but respond because of his self revelation to me. Above all, whatever the posture, our attention and focus should be on Christ!