Monday, September 24, 2007

Praise And Motion

This past weekend I went on a Fall Retreat with my college's Campus Crusade. I really enjoy Cru, despite the fact that some of its hiring practices seem very hypocritical to me (it's not the point of the post, so if you want to know what I mean, follow the link and take a guess!) My school's Cru chapter is an amazing group of people, and it's often so wonderfully evident how much God is at work in them. They are Catholic, Pentecostal, Reformed, Methodist, liberal, conservative, emo, punk, preppy--everything! They really put the "universal" in "universal church," you know? I'm not saying this as a means to fawn about diversity on a superficial level. I just think that it's one of the best examples I've ever seen of Galatians 3:28.

Of course, despite its mix of people, Cru is in a lot of ways your standard college ministry. And by that I mean they play a lot of contemporary Christian music at their worship services. I mean a lot. I think I've mentioned before that I'm not a big fan of CCM. I mean, I understand that the old hymns I know and love were once the contemporary songs of their day, but there's just something about modern Christian music that doesn't exactly get me as "fired up" as some old gospel songs sung to bluegrass (which is, incidentally, the music of angels if you didn't know. :-)

Granted, there are many songs that I do like. "Days of Elijah" and "Inside Out" are two of my favorite regular songs they play at Cru, and I always get into much more of a "praise mode" when they start playing. Still, I've noticed that my "praise mode" is very different from that of most of the Christians at Cru. While they worship with their eyes closed and their hands raised, sometimes getting so energized that I would say they're "rocking out," I tend to be very withdrawn when I worship. My hands are folded, my head is down, I sway a bit, and I sing quietly. I'm not saying that my way is better or anything, but I just think it's strange how some people can be so energetic, while I just want to be quiet and still when I think about God.

I think worship brings us in touch with sides of ourselves that we didn't know existed. Some of the most energetic, hyper, and enthusiastic worshippers I know are people who are very quiet and reserved in their day-to-day actions. I, on the other hand, am a very quiet worshipper, but in my day-to-day I'm loud and hyper.

Also, I think that I have other outlets for my natural desires for movement and dance. A lot of the folks at Cru, unfortunately, only listen to praise music. So while I can fulfill my desires for motion or energy by listening to some good old Rolling Stones or... dare I say it? ... Rihanna, they might have been raised thinking that Christian music was really the only proper kind of music, and thus for them it's used for everything from praise to partying. Not saying one way is particularly better than the other, I'm just thinking about the different ways that we find ourselves worshiping the same awesome God.


grace said...

Awww...the worship wars! ha! I know that really has nothing to do with your post....but your talk of the different "styles" of worship takes me back to a familiar "bone of contention" amongst many of the mainline churches today.

I've come to recognize that my truest worship has very little to do with any of sort of music whatsoever....even though I LOVE LOVE LOVE acappella style singing as my personal truest worship is my daily grind offered up to Him as I approach even the simplest of tasks with Him in mind.

Good to see you back to more regular writing, Jay! :) I hope you can keep it up as your semester wears on.

You're always in my prayers.
love and grace,

Norm! said...

I loved CCM in the 1990s during my evangelical/Pentecostal Christian days. At its best, contemporary worship feels like an exhilarating, shared, spiritual experience. At its worst, contemporary worship feels orchestrated, forced, and disingenuous.

Unfortunately, I unfairly associate CCM with my own conservative Christian baggage, so it's hard for me to really get into CCM any more. My mom loves CCM and I try to respect her preference when I'm riding in her car. And I still keep a couple of worship CDs in my closet when I feel nostalgic.

That said, I now prefer hymns and a grand old organ (to drown out my notes).

MR said...

I can worship God with CCM, traditional hymns, and even the modern rock favored at my own church. In my own private times of worship, though, I tend to sing traditional hymns to God. Somehow the other types of music are harder to use when it is just my voice without instruments.