- How authentic emotion can bolster the worship of our communities and become a witness.
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n the reality TV Show, Undercover Boss, CEO’s of companies go undercover and work as an employee. The show ends each program with the CEO awarding participants. Invariably, many are moved to tears of joy. So is the watching audience.
The Israelites, “Gave a great shout” when Ezra led in the laying of the temple foundation. “But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads who had seen the former temple wept” and “Many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sounds of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away” (Ezra 3:11-13)
Good news brings tears of joy. Overpowering shouts of joy can merge with tears to bring an un-expecting public within earshot of the resulting praise.
Worship can spill over and all hear when:
Jesus is high and lifted up
God inhabits the praise of his people. What God inhabits he makes known to others.
John 12:32 says, “If I be lifted up … I will draw all men unto myself.” The cross of Christ exerts a universal attraction. As God inhabits our praise, especially as it includes what Christ did for us on the cross, others are drawn toward Christ.
In recent years I’ve experienced corporate worship where God’s Spirit moved in mighty ways. Usually they occurred with honest confession when people turned from their sins and rejoiced in the freedom forgiveness brings. Their tears and the resulting praise and adoration from the congregation mingled. Word spread about what God was doing in our midst. Others came.
Key accomplishments in church life are celebrated
Baptisms, Lord Supper, Observances, church anniversaries, and mighty outpourings of God’s Spirit are perfect opportunities to celebrate.
Few churches celebrate enough. Our Lord gave us two ways to celebrate: baptism and the Lord’s Supper observances.
A few years ago I witnessed a unique way of celebrating during baptism. In a half Jamaican/half African American congregation in the Bronx of New York City, baptism took on new meaning when before baptism, church members took time to affirm the candidates through testimony about their lives. Comments were all positive, uplifting, and encouraging. As they experienced the baptismal waters wash over them, candidates and worshippers celebrated their rising to new life in Christ.
The Lord’s Supper, done with variety and regularity, can ignite spontaneous expressions of remembrance, praise, and appreciation for Christ’s sacrifice. The key is avoiding repetition and redundant presentation. Weeks should be allowed to plan for the next Lord’s Supper observance to insure a meaningful experience. Using drama, lighting, readings, and different ways of delivery can enhance the impact of what you do.
Approach each observance with the goal of creating a “wow” experience for the observers and participants. Always seek to raise the expectation level of each. Congregants leaving the services talking about what they experienced spills over into the community.
Praise swells out of a heart of gratitude
Nothing brings tears of joy like a true knowledge of how much God loves us. It will cause us to shout and others to hear.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks.” A thankful people praises and rejoices. A church that constantly ponders and reflects upon God’s love, will return praise out of hearts of gratitude.
Gratitude by its nature, overflows. The television show, “Undercover Boss”, mentioned earlier, underscores this fact. Once the employees recognize what they’ve been given, tears of joy begin to flow. When we as God’s children understand what our “boss” has given us in salvation and abundant living, our hearts will explode in gratitude. And you can count on our telling others what God has done.
Shouts of joy (joyful tears) overpower tears of sadness (disappointed tears)
Both are usually present when some positive event or experience happens. Happening simultaneously, a listening world cannot tell the difference; they just know what they hear, a celebrating church.
Israel once experienced the beauty and grandeur of Solomon’s temple. So did the elders in Ezra’s day. When the new temple was built, it lacked the former temple’s magnificence. This remembrance brought tears to the elder saints. But God’s chosen people, many of whom had never seen the original temple, rejoiced greatly because they had gone without a temple for so long. The depth of praise overwhelmed the depth of sadness.
Significant events in church life usually come with both – a rejoicing church and sad or disappointed minority. To some, it may be change has come and they decry the change. Others may remember the church in its hay-day and fail to recognize a new beginning. Still others may be shedding tears of joy. Significant positive happenings always have more rejoicing that those weeping. A listening world cannot tell the difference and will hear it as praise.
One thing is better than praise and disappointed tears interspersed: praise and joyful tears mingling together. A receptive world will want some of that!!
Use these tools to stimulate personal praise:
- Do a word study on the Love of God
- Read the Book of Psalms replacing personal pronouns with your name.
- Learn and sing praise songs in private and corporate worship
- Engage in personal soul-winning. Nothing invigorates one’s faith and gratitude than being a part of someone coming to know Christ
- Examine times when you’ve experienced tears of joy or an overflowing gratitude. Reflect and thank God for those times and ask for more of such experiences.
- Seek to grow in intimacy. The more intimate you are with Christ the more worship times will overflow in gratitude and praise.
- Remove sin. Confession turns on the facet of forgiveness. Forgiveness always leads to a grateful heart.
Danny Von Kanel is a prolific writer and church musician with hundreds of articles published in 50+ magazines and three books in 2003, 2005, and 2013. His newest book is Building Your Life by the Owner’s Design (The Positive Approach to Building Your Life God’s Way).