Sometimes, I just don’t understand Christians.
At His Church this past Sunday in Pinetown, we sang a song that included the words “lift my hands in praise”. And at the moment of those lyrics, at least half of the two hundred-fifty-ish people lifted their hands. By second time we came to that lyrical set, almost everyone had put their hands down. But as soon as we sang that, half the people raised their hands again – and then the song leader verbally encouraged everyone to raise their hands. At this, more people raised their hands until nearly everyone had their hands above their heads.
And it made me think, as I’ve thought a few times since coming here, about something silly I’ve noticed Christians do.
When it comes to song lyrics about lifting hands above our heads, or dancing, or clapping, or a few other things, people do it, and with gusto.
But when we sing about bowing, or laying down, or kneeling, or some other things, I have rarely if ever seen someone do it.
I just don’t understand it. As an outsider to all churches we’ve been to in the last six months, it’s strange to me, and seems inconsistent and inauthentic. If you do what you’re saying in one part of the song, why not in another? And if a “churchy” person like me finds this weird, what are people who are new to church thinking?
Do they arrive on Sunday morning with some of the questions I mentioned in Unintended Learning, and sing a “lift hands in praise” song and see people lifting their hands and join in, come to a “bow down” or “kneel down” phrase and do it because it they think other people are doing it based on the “lift hands” lyrics, and then feel entirely out of place when they realize at some point that no one else is doing that motion?
Maybe I’m over thinking it, but I think the general idea is solid – what are “churchy” people doing that is ok in one instance but not ok in another, with no explanation as to the difference? How do our own little cultural “churchy” things distract those who need to hear the Gospel from hearing it? How do we help the person who wanders in off the street make our congregation feel at home despite the decades or hundred-plus years of history the congregation has without that individual?
At church the next time you go, do you notice any things that you wouldn’t know how to do unless you already knew how to do them (anything that might be utterly confusing to someone who has never been to church before)?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.