My family and I attend a church where ear plugs are available at the entrance to our worship center. I’ve never used the earplugs at church but I probably should to preserve my long-term hearing. I know many of you, due to the previous two sentences, have already condemned the church I attend. Let me help by giving you some more ammunition. In addition to the high decibels, each worship song is usually accompanied by a surprisingly sophisticated light show keeping in movement to the vocals, guitars and drums. Occasionally the fog machine is working so hard you can’t see all the way across the worship center.

You might think anything would be acceptable in such a rocking environment. Recently, however, something happened during the worship service which clearly distracted a majority of the people. I will refer to this woman as the “crazy worship lady.” This middle-aged woman only stood about 5’ 4” but her worship packed a disproportionate punch. For unhindered movement she spent the worship time in the middle of the aisle. When the lyrics mentioned “falling before God” she would actually fall on the ground. When a lyric spoke of God being “our everything” she would intensely look around at everyone else making motions that seemed to convey, “you, yeah you, you with me?” Most people didn’t make eye contact hoping she would leave them alone.

When the lyrics moved toward Jesus being victorious she seemed to literally go crazy. She moved her head every which way making her hair look like it was caught in a pulsating blender. She surprised me by having pretty impressive air-time as she jumped up and down during the “Jesus victorious” song. I was surprised, furthermore, to hear her muster enough volume to yell words not on the big screen which I could hear over the loud vocals, guitars and drums. It sounded like she was trying to tell someone something in the middle of all the falling, jumping and hair shaking.

After about ten minutes of this behavior a couple of the burly ushers moved into position close to the crazy worship lady (they obviously don’t call them ushers at a church like this but you know what I’m talking about). The ushers didn’t do anything except keep an eye on her and we were soon seated for the sermon. I was waiting for her to doing something crazy during the sermon and even had a plan in my head how I would help out if she needed to be tackled. She sat calmly during the sermon.

The sermon ended, we gathered our kids from the lower decibel children’s area, and headed back home. En route my wife asked me the question we both knew was coming, “What did you think about that lady?” I knew what she was talking about but just for fun I verified by asking, “You mean the crazy worship lady?” She laughed a little and it was clear we were talking about the same person.

My response was already formed. While watching the crazy worship lady I knew instantly what I thought about her actions. I was able to answer my wife immediately. Before I give you my response, however, I want you to know a little bit of my background.

Some Background

I started my “religious” life going to a Roman Catholic church. My earliest memories of “worship” come from the mass and from a surprisingly skilled nun playing the guitar and singing while we joined along as best we could. From there my family attended a very traditional small town Methodist church. We typically sang through a collection of about 25 hymns. I don’t remember ever singing the 3rd stanza. We always sang 1, 2 and 4. If you are reading this and about to write a hymn don’t spend too much time on the 3rd stanza, everyone will skip it for some unknown reason.

I then went to college and God rescued me from my sins through my risen Savior. The first church I went to as a believer had a blended worship style. Sometimes we sang hymns traditionally, other times we sang hymns which had been “modernized”, but more and more we would sing the newest stuff from the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) scene. A lot of those early songs I fell in love with would now be a cheesy embarrassment if sang in my church today.

I went from the large-gathering CCM’ish scene to my first church out of college consisting of 20 people. I was in Madison, WI and the pastor was a relative of the family so I felt obligated to check it out. The worship pastor, campus pastor, executive pastor and senior pastor were all the same guy. Many times our singing would be accompanied by a karaoke-style tape.

From there my job moved me to another state and another church. This church had a lot of great things going for it but had a background many people today would consider strange. The older people in the church, especially, still thought it was of the devil to watch a movie, listen to any kind of contemporary music and dance. When the church eventually added drums to the worship team many of the key families left the church.

The Lord then led me to Dallas Theological Seminary. I’ve overheard Chuck Swindoll say he feels the closest to heaven when singing, “It is Well with my Soul” in the Dallas Seminary chapel. Every chapel service consists of one and only one hymn usually sung a cappella by 400+ people. During my seven years of seminary (slow learner) our church had a symphony. Yes, you heard me correctly. Violins, oboes, trumpets, trombones, and timpani we had it all. In addition to the symphony stood the 100 member choir belting forth 1, 2 and 4 stanza hymns.

True Worship

Ok, stay with me. I’m getting very close to answering my wife’s question. What did I think about the crazy worship lady? I have one more experience I first need to get off my chest. I’ve been reading through the newest edition of Christianity Today. I came across an interview with T. David Gordon regarding his book Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns. Dr. Gordon makes the statement contemporary worship music should only be permissible if it will prevent a church from splitting. He then goes on to say the reason churches are not hymn-only is due to a lack of musical education. If a church wants to rediscover deep worship they need to re-educate their people away from pop-culture music to a deeper ability in joining the musical excellence found in hymns.

What about the Crazy Lady?

I would primarily concede Dr. Gordon’s arguments if we were gathering to worship music. We do not, however, gather to worship music. Let me say that again. When the local church gathers together for communal worship the object is not music. The local community gathers to collectively worship a living triune God.

My first response: annoyance. How could this lady be so selfish? She doesn’t even know she’s so distracting. The angry faces from people all around her made it clear I wasn’t the only person initially annoyed.

As I looked over again to the crazy worship lady I was convicted. Why am I not like her? Is my primary interest sounding good and looking normal? This lady had gathered together with a heart prepared to give right allegiance to her living God. She was ruined by a massive God. She couldn’t stand upright and sing about His greatness. It was as if Isaiah was falling on his face right before my eyes (Isaiah 6:5). When singing the “Jesus Victorious” song I was watching David dancing in the delight of the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14).

I had to ask myself, “If I was Jesus what would I think of the crazy worship lady?” I thought of the Moravian missionaries leaving their comfortable surroundings proclaiming, “May the lamb who was slain receive the reward of his suffering.” I was watching a woman give Jesus the reward of His suffering. She cared more about God than her surroundings.

I turned my gaze to heaven with tears running down my face and let Jesus know He’s victorious in my life as well. Years spent studying Greek, Hebrew, Church History and Systematic Theology continue to bless my soul. The Crazy Worship Lady, however, helped educate me toward the heart of worship.

My response to my wife, “In short, I thought she was great. We need her in this church.”

I hope your church has at least one crazy worship lady. Maybe you’re that lady? What do you think?


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    110 replies to "The Crazy Worship Lady"

      • Ed Kratz

        Mr. Niebergall,

        Thanks for being so manly that you want to be the crazy worship lady!

        -Tim

    • Jeanette Ross

      We have a kid with Downs Syndrome at our church. He is always at the front of the church during worship waving his arms and pounding his chest. I have never seen a more passionate worshipper- “arms high and heart abandoned In awe of the One who gave it all” It is most beautiful.

    • Steve Holland

      I was pleasently suprised by your response. I’m from a Baptist background ( 43 years). We are way to stiff in our worship and this lady was willing to be undignified all for Christ. Good article.

    • Mike

      I’m torn about this one.

      We have “Opera Lady” in our church. She sings 5 times as loud as anyone else and in an drawn-out operatic style, often overpowering the singers on stage with their mikes.

      I want to assign pure motives to her, as you’ve so charitably done in your case. I want to take the humble position you have, letting her enthusiasm convict my own heart. That seems the safest route to take, since we all care too much for the opinions of man anyway.

      On the other hand, sometimes I want to quietly focus on the words to a song or try to commune with the Lord through music and I can’t even hear myself think because of “Our Goooooooood isssss faiiiiithfuuuuuuuul!” coming from 30 rows away.

      I’ve got to think there’s some kind of a balance to strive for here. Perhaps it falls under having order in the church, along the lines of Paul’s instructions regarding spiritual gifts?

    • Victoria Ingebretsen

      I love your heartfelt response to the crazy worship lady. I also wish I was free enough at church to worship my savior the way I imagine I will when face to face with him. He deserves no less from me now.

    • Amy Engle

      You know Tim, I knew you were going to have that conclusion! I remember my first experience worshiping in a AG church. I thought at first that the people were very strange in how “openly” they worshiped, but what impressed me was that as I stayed for over a year and got to know them, I was convinced that I had never met people who were so like Jesus in every thing they said, did and the way they loved Jesus and people. They were a mirror of Jesus. I find myself comparing every church I visit now to this one b/c even though they were a little “different” or “hyper” in their worship, I knew that what they sang about they lived out in everyday life. I have never seen Jesus so clearly since then. The crazy worship lady sounds a little eccentric, but if she truly is as passionate for Christ in her daily living as she is in her worship, she would be a good example to follow!

    • Ed Kratz

      Mike,

      Well said. If this lady truly had a mental illness or if she appeared to be clearly disruptive due to impure motives my response would have been more nuanced.

      Here’s my challenge though…if we all would worship God with hearts more like Isaiah…with eyes of faith placing us in the throne room of heaven only by the blood of Christ …the crazy worship lady wouldn’t be as surprising. If the collective church had a pendulum I would think it would typically be swinging more in the dead worship side than the too crazy side.

      We need to make sure we’re not too “safe” before the lion of the tribe of Judah.

      -Tim

    • Beth

      I personally think that if someone wants to really go crazy, they can do it in their own home. Passion is good, but being a distraction is bad. Everyone is gathered to worship God, and I would find that nearly impossible with Crazy Worship Lady demanding my attention instead of letting me focus on God.

      I think that making that much of a scene takes everyone’s focus away from worship and puts it on you. It strikes me as selfish to disrupt the people around you like that.

    • John From Down Under

      Tim – I heard a grenade go off when I read your post. A few observations if I may.

      Firstly, before you read the following sentence please know it is aimed as a compliment. You begin to sound like Michael Patton, in fact if you hadn’t put your name on the top, I would have thought it was one of his posts. The osmosis process works 🙂

      Secondly, I spent a good chunk of my church life in circus evangelicus surrounded by folks who ‘cared more about God than their surroundings’. I would never dare to ‘invite a friend’ to come along (even if we knew that the sermon would hit at least the 4th concentric circle from the target, as far as biblical preaching goes), out of sheer embarrassment and the unpredictability of the cringe-alert from people who behave as if they’re in a trance and resemble those Indian mystic cult ceremonies.

      In a private setting, do somersaults for all I care, but in corporate worship some order is appropriate. I don’t mean crusty, wooden stiffness

    • Ed Kratz

      Beth,

      I completely hear what you’re saying. I admit this article is not fully objective. There is a lot of room for discussion. My question…do you feel like you worship Jesus now the same way you will after the wedding feast of the lamb? He gets up on a stage and welcomes you to paradise. We are only there by His blood. Some music then starts, angels are intermixed throughout the great crowd. We then open our mouths and hearts to worship Him as He delightfully receives it…do you worship on Sunday in the same way you might one day in glory? I know the question is fully hypothetical but please chew on it and let me know your thoughts…

      -Tim

    • Ed Kratz

      John,

      Thanks for the compliment. Michael’s writing style is worthy of emulating…I’m honored. I just hope I don’t pick up all his habits! 🙂 I joke because I love.

      I hear you about the circus environment. Instead of trying to “normalize” everyone I think the worship pastor and teaching pastor should be very intentional to teach the people in the church authentic worship. How often have you heard good exegetical/expositional teaching on practical ways we worship. Seeing people week after week standing there emotionless, not even speaking the words sipping their coffee should be just as concerning.

      just some thoughts,
      Tim

    • Esther

      Well…let me say that I have, in the past, been the “crazy worship lady”! I loved dancing before the Lord, signing and singing the songs, and matching actions to words. I probably wasn’t quite as demonstrative as this dear soul, but I approached it.

      I am no longer that person, for various reasons. I’m not saying that being that person was bad or that people who are like that are bad, but here’s my question:

      Maybe I cared about God more than about what people thought back then. But I wonder if I just really enjoyed the high I got from worshiping that way? If so, I wasn’t worshiping God…I was worshiping me.

      Bad plan.

      And what if I just wanted to show others that I was more demonstrative, and therefore perhaps more spiritual, than they were?

      Also a wrong motive.

      So I’m not sure anymore what is good and right, as concerns individual worship in a service.

      Crazy worship ladies need to search their hearts, too.

      • Ed Kratz

        Esther,

        Well said, yes, we shouldn’t be manufacturing these actions. They need to flow from a sincere heart.

    • Beth

      I agree with John From Down Under: “In a private setting, do somersaults for all I care, but in corporate worship some order is appropriate.”

      Worship in Heaven will undoubtedly be different from worship on earth. More sober hymns one church are different from louder, high energy contemporary worship. Jumping around screaming would not be appropriate in a worship service of hymns because it would put everyone’s focus on you and away from God. It would, however, be appropriate at a contemporary Christian rock concert.

      The question isn’t “Is this how I’m going to worship in Heaven?” The question is “am I being sincere and heartfelt in my worship yet considerate of those around me?” There is a place for being “crazy,” but keeping other people from being able to worship is not appropriate.

      • Ed Kratz

        Beth,

        Thanks for the discussion. I imagine we would worship sincere, heartfelt and considerate of others in heaven as well. I think, as I mentioned in a previous comment the leaders of the church can really help the community worship in spirit and in truth. If this lady continued to draw a lot of focus I would meet with her privately and find out her story. There’s a good chance the next Sunday I’d have her come up for everyone to meet her and learn about her story. There are people in our church that have been freed from some tremendous darkness. When I see them worship I am usually drawn to worship God myself more passionately.

        -Tim

    • Mike

      Our experience definitely plays a big role in how we view this issue. Coming from a super energetic, highly emotional worship background myself, I’ve seen some of the downsides to this approach. I’m now very appreciative of the quiet, reflective side to worship and am sensitive to the problems that the other can bring with it.

      On the other hand, I’ve often heard people tell me how they came from a “stodgy” or “dry” worship background and are so appreciative of outgoing worship full of the “joy of the Lord.”

      Again, it seems there’s a place for both and some type of balance is in order.

    • Jim Zeirke

      I’m a little bothered when we decide that the person who is all sorts of demonstrative is having an “authentic worship experience” when those who are more restrained are not. I raise my hands and at times am known to shout a “Yeah God!” or two. But overall, my worship is pretty sedate compared to this gal and a few folks in my former church. True worship, we are told, is in spirit and in truth. I don’t see anything that says that it must be doing all sorts of gymnastics, both physical and emotional. In a former church, folks would fawn all over people, typically female, who acted out worship. They are real worshippers, folks would say. How would they know? How would they know that folks who are much more sedate aren’t expressing a MORE profound worship of the Lord than those who aren’t?

    • Dr Michael

      Tim, we don’t gather to worship music, but we also don’t gather to worship by watching the crazy lady worship. How many people were watching her to see what was going to happen next, instead of worshiping God in spirit (in their hearts)?

      “for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints…all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.” 1 Cor. 14

      The fact that two security guards had to watch her indicates it was not orderly.

    • Beth

      It seems like there must be some sort of selfishness at work when someone is being demonstrative to the point of being distracting and KNOWS that they’re being distracting. Either they’re trying to prove how spiritual they are, or they think that their spiritual needs are more important than those of the people around them.

      If someone needs to act a certain way to feel closest to God, they can do it at home or some other more appropriate venue. Worship shouldn’t be confined to Sunday morning, after all.

      While part of group worship, be respectful to the group.

    • minimus

      So where does 1 Corinthians 14:15 fit in?

      Good on you for referencing David’s dance….however, it seems my Spirit-filled church has a lot more order than your noncharismatic church…curious..m

    • John From Down Under

      Seeing people week after week standing there emotionless , not even speaking… should be just as concerning.

      I agree…to a point, but this opens the discussion further. What’s the definition of an emotionless response? Not singing loud enough, waving your arms wide enough, not swinging from right to left? Would a more restrained worshiper be less emotionally engaged?

      Also, how about someone who had a bad week and does not want to pretend being chirpy, or someone who can’t ‘participate’ because the song lyrics are too me-centered & not Christ exalting?

      Now let me throw this in as an antipodean observer of American religious culture. African American worship services are by default the liveliest! Is this because blacks are more spiritual than whites, or is it a byproduct of their cultural expression? I see unregenerate Hollywood actors emulate this style (& I still love it 🙂 ) Chinese would be more reserved, so would the British (except for soccer hooligans!)

    • Bob

      Where’s the donuts ?

    • Scott Shaffer

      You lost me at “ear plugs are available”. And, those burly guys no one wants to call ushers? That’s because they’re really bouncers. 🙂

    • Donna

      I many times have been moved by worship songs to want to dance in the isles. But instead I dance in my heart and mind as I sing.
      I have also wanted to walk the isle and go forward as I sing songs that move me but again, I do it in my heart and mind.
      For I know in my worldly state what I would want to give to God for His glory, I would take all or some of that for my own glory. It is my sin nature to show how “religious” and “dedicated” I am to my Lord to other people. God knows my relationship to Him before I ever open my mouth to sing.

    • Ed Kratz

      Great stuff. While I would try (and have tried) to have the perspective
      “why not?”, I normally end up with some senerio where she is out of order. I mean why not do it during the sermon too?

    • Alex Jordan

      Michael,

      As usual, a thought-provoking post. I have mixed feelings though, about “crazy worship ladies”. I’m not sure we can or should correlate how genuinely worshipful the service is (or worshipers in the service are) based solely on outward actions. I think that certainly God wants us to be ourselves and to be authentic before Him. So I think we should feel free to worship exuberantly, when the Spirit is moving our mind and heart in this way, or perhaps in a more subdued and humble posture, when the Spirit convicts of sin or inspires reverence for God.

      Whatever we do, it really should be to bring God glory and to honor Him, not to try to impress anyone around us. Yet at the same time, we must be sensitive to the mood of the others in worship around us. We are worshipers together, after all, not solo. It is isn’t just about me and God, it’s about us and our God.

    • Ed Kratz

      Tim,

      I’m torn about this. On the heels of hearing Mark Bailey’s lecture on Luke 7:36-50, it affirmed that our Lord is worthy of the highest praise and worship. Bowing before him, lifting our hands, and verbal proclamations are but reasonable responses.

      But like John from Down Under, I spent a number of years in Charismatic circles. I think people in that setting can become very ritualistic in the flagrant worship such that a lack of it is perceived as not worshiping. Even in a setting where the activity you described would be normal, I found that some persisted in being loud with their praise. At times it was a distraction.

      So I do think there is something to be said for consideration of the setting, modelling the Philippians 2 attitude – place others interest above your own. Just because we are not going crazy with the physical motions or loud praises does not mean the worship is an less. It’s a tough call though because I freely do these things in private…

    • Ed Kratz

      and would urge others to do the same out of heart-felt submission and adoration to our Lord.

    • leavingthegray

      I think this is an interesting discussion. The post is thought provoking about how we express our worship, while many of the comments posted here are helping to show that our worship should not be limited to what is “normal” in our church environments, yet that we should also be aware how our expression may cause others to stumble and distract people from the God we intend to worship.
      Frankly, i’m a little put off by this ongoing internal debate that continues to divide churches and dominate the attention of the body of Christ. Why is it that we can’t impart more grace to one another on an issue that is simply not the most important issue? I’m thankful for the diversity of expression, and thankful for the freedom that we have in Christ to express our love for Him.

      • Ed Kratz

        Chris,

        I like when you said: I’m thankful for the diversity of expression, and thankful for the freedom that we have in Christ to express our love for Him.

        My ultimate hope in this post is that we’ll examine the authenticity of our worship (personal and corporate), show grace towards others, and let others spur our hearts to worship God.

        – Tim

    • Esther

      That is exactly what we need this article to do for us, Tim.

      Beth alluded to something that I think we, in our westernized culture of individualism, forget: we do not gather as believers to worship God as individuals. We should be worshiping as individuals 24/7. When we gather, we gather as His Bride…and we should worship ~together~.

      So perhaps it is important to restrain our individual worship for the sake of those gathered with us, and join our hearts, voices, and worship expressions into a unity of worship–whether that individual worship is “me-sitting-here-quietly-focused-on-God-please-don’t-disturb” or “me-in-the-aisle-dancing-because-I’m-so-joyful”.

    • Laurie M.

      Love this post!!

    • Luke N

      Tim, The post provides a good perspective that I think some people need. However, it seems that such a thing may be “causing a brother to stumble”. In doing theology, we discover that many things are acceptable in a Christian’s life, that many Christians would consider “of the devil” (including CCM). But we do not just go around using certain offensive language or flaunting the fact that we watch South Park or Family Guy.

      I’m talking to both sides of the debate, though, here. Those “crazy worship ladies” need to realize when they might be causing a brother (or sister) to stumble, and humbly back off. Likewise, fellow worshipers need to realize that not every “crazy worship lady” is worthy of distracting them from worshiping the living, triune God.

      There is a balance here. The “crazy worship ladies” can worship God authentically in a way that is not distracting to those who are not trying to be distracted.

      “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.”

    • Carrie

      This just came to mind, otherwise I would have told you earlier today. I remember once being at a Ravi Zacharias speaking engagement. In between speakers, Mac Powell (or is it Matt?) from Third Day sang God of Wonders. As he sang (which by the way, it is my favorite contemporary worship song – yes I do like one Christian song!) I found myself, with eyes closed, tears streaming, hands way up in the air. I came to find I was the only person with hands raised (my friend informed me of that on the ride home.) This wasn’t at a church either. It was at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. I suppose in that context, I could have easily been thought to be the “crazy worship lady”.

      IT is hard to pin down whether or not something is genuine (I know my moment of “letting loose” was). Since we can’t know for sure if indeed the “craziness” is legit, and if what they are doing isn’t counter-biblical, then we should just thank God for moving in such ways and rejoice in it.

    • John From Down Under

      Take note of comment # 27 Tim – someone else thought you are Michael too 😉

    • Adulcia

      Many years ago the church I was attending was having many disagreements about the volume and style of the music – mostly the over 60’s complaining the music was too loud and more hymns were needed.
      One prayer meeting, someone asked the eldest member of the congregation – a 93 year old – what her opinion was. Her answer has always stuck in my mind “I just concentrate on the words and Jesus”.
      I think worship is our heart towards God, and the music is just a media that sometimes helps us to express that. Worship is the every day living with the awareness of the presence of God, and occasionally we sing about it.

    • Anselm

      I usually lurk and don’t respond but I in this case I could not disagree more with Tim’s conclusion.

      I have read numerous authors state something similar to Tim’s conclusion but I think this conclusion lacks an understanding about what the Sunday service is….the “whole” church worshipping together. Not just the Lady worshipping, not just me worshipping…but the whole church (past, present, and future) in unison ascending Mt. Zion and worshiping as ONE body.

      I believe the Hebrew author makes this clear in his book. When we make worship about the individual and what the individual wants then we might as well do away with the assembly all together. After all if it’s really all about me and my experience then I can just stay at home and listen to some CCM on my ipod and rock away.

      The ushers should have escorted her out to the nursery. Time for the church to leave nursery behavior in the nursery.

    • FDR

      Does Crazy worship lady worship like that during hymns as well. Or just during upbeat music. Also what does worship without music look like because most of the worship in the Bible is without music.. just wondering.. Also, we had Superman in out church during a Praise and Worship time, but he was high…

    • Curt Parton

      I appreciate Tim’s desire to humbly accept and even be inspired by someone else’s exuberant expression of worship. But there is a real need for balance here, and Paul addressed it really well in 1 Cor 14. He wants to provide the freedom for everyone to exercise their gifts in worship, but he also provides restraining guidelines. Apparently, he was concerned about ‘crazy worship people’ all speaking in tongues at the same time, so he tells them ‘one at a time, and if there’s no interpreter keep your praying in tongues between yourself and God.’ He limits individual participation in worship, and his criteria is what will be most edifying to the corporate body.

      There are ways that I express my love for my wife that are beautiful and wonderful, but much more appropriate in private than in public. Likewise, there are ways we express our love for God that are beautiful and wonderful, but much more appropriate in private. Corporate worship is not for our personal spiritual…

    • Curt Parton

      . . . gratification.

      [I was supposed to have 4 characters available. Frustrating.]

    • […] – Jim Wallis, Huffington Post Preaching Has Great Power – Steve McCoy, Reformissionary The Crazy Worship Lady – Tim Kimberley This, That, and the Other Jesus – Greg Garrett, Huffington Post 10 […]

    • Jim Zeirke

      I spent a lot of years in a church where the ear plugs would have been welcome–during the sermon. Your “fog machine” perfectly describes the pastor that we had. Nonetheless, I just want to reinforce what I said earlier: Physical expressions of worship are not more authentic worship than quiet contemplation. I’ve been in churches where they taught and encouraged physical manifestations in worship, where the worship leader very much discouraged, if not disparaged, folks who chose to sit quietly and encounter God in worship. I am not saying one is better, or more correct, than the other. If “crazy church lady” was next to me, I’d probably get up and move to another seat rather than create a scene. More often than not I find that is what happens. The physical worship folks rarely seem to get up and move so as not to disturb the quiet contemplation folks.

    • Ed Kratz

      Great discussion. Regarding orderliness, we must agree that’s pretty culturally subjective. Paul doesn’t tell the Corinthians to stop what they’re doing, he just gives them some boundaries.

      How do we culturally interact in corporate settings? College Basketball, College Football, professional sports gatherings, concerts…filled with ordinary people jumping up and down, screaming, being expressive. The next day someone asks you about your corporate experience. Do you usually say it was disorderly, distracting and chaotic? Do you complain the fans around you should have been only excited on the inside? No, you say it was great. The fans helped you “get into it.” I think it’s a lot easier to make a biblical case these things can become idols. For many people they are worshiping these teams and people. The same people stand expressionless before their Creator. Even if a song, quoting Psalms, says raise our hands we think, “I’m raising the hands of my heart.”

    • Chuck

      There surely needs to be a healthy dose of liberty mixed into whatever answer is supplied to your question. However, I have to say that I am probably (but unashamedly) too “presbyterian” to be comfortable with what you describe. 1 Cor 14: 40 rings true for me and this exuberant response would likely fall a bit outside those boundries as I understand what Paul teaches in the verses coming earlier in that chapter.

      Where this seems especially out of whack for me is your description of her apparent efforts to engage her fellow worshippers. Were she solely directing her physical expressions to God, it would be one thing, but that makes this seem altogether different. If this expression were normative for this gathering of the saints, I would probably find another place to worship, with a bit more order.

    • Ed Kratz

      I’m not advocating we all become like The Crazy Worship Lady every Sunday. I’m advocating for each one of us to evaluate our heart for worship. I don’t think our most expressive worship should be reserved for “at home use.” That’s like telling a college basketball fan to cheer the hardest at home by yourself, when all the fans are gathered together before your beloved team you should be reserved and contemplative. I say be contemplative at both places but corporate worship is a special time where all local believers gather to give their Savior the worship He is due.

      As Lucy and Mr. Tumnus were discussing the Lion of the tribe of Judah let us remember them telling us, “He’s not a tame lion…No, but He is good.”

      I know we’ll have some disagreements here and there about the Crazy Worship Lady but please stop and ask yourself, “Has my corporate worship become too tame? Do I worship my local sports team more passionately than the Savior of my soul?”

      -Tim

    • Gary

      I come from 1,2, 4 Baptist tradition, but spent 14 years on the worship team in an atmosphere of absolute worship freedom. It was both wonderful and a place where a newbie or unsaved might be uncomfortable; but, usually it was a traditional worshiper who was intensely uncomfortable. We live in a society where the “fear of man” is ubiquitous, and the fear of God is casual. Paul said he was “all things to all people so that by any means he might save some.” There will always be the Michals who despise Davids’ dance, however there is also a time to dance–in the church it must be both decent and orderly. The lady’s unbridled expression of worship effected everyone around her, some to the good (you) some to anger. Each of us has a God-given personality–each church does too. Each must define its mission and method of how to reach the lost around them and create within that method as much freedom as possible, while each member owns the mission and denies themselves as necessary.

    • Ed Kratz

      I think the comments that uphold freedom of worship miss the point. Paul says that we do have freedom but shouldn’t use our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh but love and serve one another (Galatians 5:13). If we take the position that we should be allowed to do as we please in a corporate setting, I think that can invite taking an opportunity for the flesh because it focuses on what WE as individuals want to do without regard for others. But as others noted, when we come together there has to be regard for the corporate setting and how we are impacting others. It is not a time for individualism.

      That’s not to suggest that one cannot worship God or should curtail worship. But being mindful of how our movements or noise affects others are just as worshipful in regard to loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

    • Curt Parton

      Tim, I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, but I think we need to always keep in mind the scriptural criteria of ‘what is most edifying for the gathered body?’ I’m not advocating limiting corporate worship expressions to what is reserved and contemplative (that’s one side of a false dilemma), but when scripture emphasizes both freedom and restraint, we must too.

      None of us should despise a brother or sister because the extreme nature of their expression of worship. But that doesn’t mean that all expressions of worship are appropriate in the public church gathering—in fact, we know that’s not the case.

      And I have to challenge the comparison with the public sports event. On what basis do we make this the standard for worship in a church gathering? I’ve heard this before, but I haven’t heard a case made for it as a valid standard for us. Can we just pick out any public gathering and make it a standard for comparison for the church? Why not a symphony instead of a…

    • Curt Parton

      It’s easy for us to begin worshiping worship instead of worshiping God. If my expression of worship in the corporate gathering draws attention away from God and to me, then this has reached a level of distraction where it is neither glorifying to God nor edifying for the church.

      Yes, we should be open to exuberant expressions of worship, but we must also seek worship in a way that is most conducive to corporate worship of God.

    • Curt Parton

      Nicely said, Lisa.

    • Carrie

      Well to those who are harping on “this women drew attention to herself and took the spotlight off of God” …

      it would seem in Tim’s case, this woman’s actions ultimately drew his own attention towards God. It would appear it prompted Tim to reflect on his own worship of God.

      So how do you account for that?

    • Phil McCheddar

      I think it is always desirable for us to worship God with a wholehearted, single-minded, passionate spirit – the sort of spirit portrayed by the Crazy Worship Lady’s actions. However, those outward actions in themselves are not proof of a genuinely passionate spirit inside, just as it is possible to give away all your money or sacrifice your body to be burned without necessarily having love (1 Cor 13). Conversely it is possible for us to worship God with a passionate, fervent spirit while standing still and looking staid.

      I think Tim is rightly encouraging us to engage our whole self in sincere, ardent worship and not just let it be an intellectual exercise or an absent-minded empty ritual. But how we express that spirit of worship is a separate question. The expressiveness of our actions, or our lack thereof, need not restrict the type of spirit with which we worship. The outward form of our worship should be regulated by a consideration for the people around us.

    • Gary Zimmerli

      It seems to me, not having been there or seen her, that in her mind it was all about her. And I don’t think we need that.

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