Free to Worship
I have to get this off my mind…
I grew up in a – somewhat – traditional black church where praise and worship was literally the highlight of the worship experience. Imagine a worship experience filled with a lot of singing, dancing, shouting, loud music, crying, people falling out, speaking in tongues, etc… totally different from your contemporary church worship experience, right? But what I found in that type of environment is that it was filled with so much emotionalism that you’d almost forget who you were singing to and what you were singing about. At least that’s how I felt.
Since then, I’ve moved to Atlanta and now I attend a contemporary church – talk about doing a complete 180 (lol). I currently attend Buckhead Church in Atlanta, GA (shout out to Buckhead! – whoot!). Attending an awesome church like Buckhead is totally different. Now I can say that I’ve experienced both extremes… “a church with too much emotion” vs. “a church with not enough emotion”. What I find most interesting is that one of the most obvious differences between these two environments is that one is a predominately black church and the other is a predominately white church. Now I can rant about this issue all day because I personally hate the non-diverse world of the church today… it sickens me!
But I won’t rant today… So,
Here’s my perspective:
I personally wish that there was some sort of middle ground…
- An environment where we aren’t forcing people to lift their hands or behave a certain way, but also an environment where we aren’t leaving people to just stand there and look at us while we sing songs on a stage.
- An environment where different races of people can worship together without feeling like the environment praises one race over the other.
- An environment where the music isn’t primarily Gospel or Contemporary, but a mixture of both.
- An environment where the worship experience is on God and not on us.
…I know what it feels like to be screamed at from the pulpit of a predominately black church for not lifting my hands or responding to the preacher’s message with an “Amen!” I also know what it feels like to stand and sing words off a screen of a predominately white church.
Since it’s hard to find churches that are diverse and embrace different cultures, then I guess you have to choose. And since I had to choose, I personally prefer the contemporary church worship experience. It allows me to think about the words. It allows me to be myself in a way that is authentic to me. It allows me to love on God the way I like to love on Him without being forced to do otherwise. It allows me to freely lift my hands to Him or sing as loud as I want to, or just stand there and look. Nobody’s forcing me; nobody’s interrupting me and God. As far as the black church worship experience that I grew up in – I rarely ever got to think and I felt odd for NOT lifting my hands or behaving a certain way. And I hated that! Growing up, I figured that was how you were supposed to worship, but as I got older I realized that I can engage God in a more intimate way without all the emotionalism. I think that’s what drove me away from the typical traditional black church. I would rather experience God authentically rather than emotionally.
What are your thoughts?