Monday, September 21, 2009

A Proper Emotional Response

Here's a question I received via email concerning the message on True Worship from Sunday morning, September 20. I thought it was a good one and thought you might benefit from the dialogue...

You speak of a soulful heart, yet I truly believe that my heart could be soulful in any setting because the intent and the feelings arise from me despite the setting. I could be in a catholic church and choose to find and feel the soulful intents of that setting as I could do the same in an all black church downtown New Orleans. The settings are indicative of the culture of the people, the soul finding comes from me! Yes? Therefore variety and spunk and praise and a solid AMEN are simply the culture of IBC goers, or has the culture calmed down on purpose and I just need to change?

I'm not sure what you mean exactly, but if you're talking about the word "soulical" that was used in the quote yesterday from A.W. Pink I can explain that. Pink was talking about emotionalism. There is no doubt there is emotion when it comes to God working in our lives, but we must be careful to not be swept into emotionalism. Emotionalism, what Pink called being soulical, is when a leader works to get the congregation stirred into a frenzy based on emotion alone. There have been many times I have experienced a pastor, especially at the end of the service during the invitation, try to get everyone in the room to respond emotionally so he uses everything from sentimentality to guilt. This skates very closely to the line of manipulation. Worship in spirit and in truth comes from a heart felt response to God for the work He has done through Christ for us and in us. There is a difference between this emotion and emotionalism.

It could be hard to distinguish this difference by looking on the outside of a person. We don't know if someone is in tears for show or as an authentic sign of gratitude toward Christ. So, it is not mine to judge the motive of others' hearts. However, as a leader, I do bear the responsibility of trying to protect our corporate times of worship so that they point to Christ and aren't used to simply produce an emotional response alone. And, as a pastor I am called to remind the member to examine their heart to make sure their emotion is gratitude and worship toward Christ and not emotionalism alone.

So, yes, I do think you could worship in spirit and truth wherever the truth is being sung and preached. And, no, I'm not looking to remove anyone's emotion from the service at Immanuel Baptist when it is aimed in the proper direction. It has been amazing to me how there have been times of emotion filled worship on the mission field where I don't know all of the words of the song, but I know enough to know the truth we are singing about.

What do you think?

1 comment:

Jason said...

Wow, finally some dialogue about worship. I'm not a blogger, as a matter of fact, this is my first post. I wouldn't have even been on here except Pastor B begged me to do it. Actually he didn't beg me, he paid me. Just kidding. I really couldn't help putting my two cents worth in on a subject that is so dear to me. Here is my take. I see the person asking the question as someone who is searching. Searching for a correct response to God in worship as well as searching for a relationship. My background took me into many different worship experiences. Singing professionally for 13 years literally showed me a little of all kinds of worship. I have seen manufactured emotion ranging from pew jumping and flag waving to people being knocked backwards. I am just thankful I avoided any situations involving snakes. But, seriously, music can be one of the most intimate ways we come before God. It can sometimes bring about such an abundance of true emotion that if held in would cause us to explode. Someone once told me that perceptive people can see manufactured emotion with ease. I think it all goes back to that relationship I spoke of earlier. It is our relationship with Christ that makes worshiping in spirit and truth possible. The condition of the worshiper's heart is always God's primary interest. From my experience, location is never what matters most to God. What matters is that we enter into worship with a surrendered heart.