Monday, April 03, 2006

The Church Waltz

This weekend I got the opportunity to visit a new church with a friend of mine in Phoenix.  We shared teen years in the Reformed church together and our theological discussions have always been a solid help to me.  He's well-read, a sound thinker, and aggressive in his search for truth and meaning in his spirituality.

This particular church, being Lutheran, is pretty traditional but they have been working to make the service more contemporary.  Overall, I was extremely impressed with their friendliness and warmth.  The message was very thought-provoking if a bit verbose.  (I'm critical and opinionated, deal with it.)  The humorous part of the morning for me was about halfway through worship when I realized that I was the singing louder than...pretty much everybody.  I truly loves me some worship and don't pay much attention to the people around me once I start clearing my mind.  I'm sure those poor traditionalists thought I was a little weird for just closing my eyes and letting the song emerge.  Oh well, so much for first impressions.

So my question to you is simple...what's the proper response in a situation like that?  When you are in an environment specifically to worship, how much should you modify your behavior to fit in?  I'm not talking about being disruptive or disrespectful.  My general rule is that when you are in a place where they don't raise their hands, you probably should keep your hands in your pockets.  When in the presence of believers who always sit and stand only when directed, you probably shouldn't waltz the aisles.  But if a church is singing quietly, should you put a sock in it?  If no one says a word all service, is it wrong to say "Amen" at the end of a prayer?

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