September 02, 2010

Feeling It

Sometimes I just don't feel it.  It's an occupational hazard, I guess, exacerbated by my own personality, which is heavily skewed toward "introverted" and "thinking" according to Myers-Briggs.

In worship, I'm always focused on what comes next, making sure things flow smoothly.  My mind is always one step ahead, which means it's often difficult for me to remain present.  What was it that the lay leader just said?  I'm sorry, I didn't hear.  My mind was already on the next part of the service.

It doesn't help that the order of worship is fairly rigid and formal, neatly outlined in the paper program.  Granted, it's not nearly as rigid and formal as in some congregations I've been part of, but rigid and formal enough that I wonder if I'm not the only one who doesn't feel it. I have been known to intentionally leave the program blank as a way to help me and others feel it, but I think that was probably a one-time thing for me.

The founders of the Restoration Movement (of which my Disciples of Christ congregation is part) were, for the most part, rational, non-emotional thinkers.  We pride ourselves, even today, on being a church where "you don't have to check your brain in at the door."  We encourage people to think deeply, to explore deep questions, to have a faith of understanding, not a blind faith. 

No wonder I sometimes don't feel it.

But even the Restoration Movement founders tolerated the emotional revivalism of their day.  They thought, some of them, that it had a place in Christian worship (as long as it didn't get too carried away!).  Perhaps they, rational thinkers that they were, also longed to feel it.

Last spring, I took our youth to a praise worship which involved youth from a number of different Disciples congregations.  Several praise bands from different cities performed, but one of them I found to be exceptionally inspiring.  Afterward, I invited them to come play at my church, which they did last Sunday evening.

They had never played anywhere other than at their own church (which hosted the event last spring), so this was a new experience for them.  I made it clear to them that the evening "concert" was not a formal worship service, but rather an opportunity to have fun in an informal setting; and yet, even before the concert began, I knew what would happen:  For me, this would be an opportunity to really feel it, to immerse myself in the spirit of worship in a way that I'm often unable to do on Sunday morning.

Now, I'm left wondering:  How can we reshape worship to help more people "feel it?"  How do we find the balance between "feeling it" and not checking our brains in at the door?  How do other worship leaders and preachers (especially those with personalities similar to mine) deal with this? 

1 comment:

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...


Good reflections here! Finding balance between heart and mind is difficult. Like you, I'm more the thinker than the feeler (I am after all and I/ENTJ kind of guy.