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Should church be reverently quiet or is loud OK?

Postby Gil » Mon May 11, 2015 7:10 am

Does reverence mean to have a quiet church service? I have heard people complain that the drums are to loud or holding a conversation in the sanctuary after the benediction is disrespectful in the house of God. How do you maintain reverence in your praise celebration?

Re: Should church be reverently quiet or is loud OK?

Postby jimwalton » Mon May 11, 2015 7:18 am

These are great questions: Is one style of worship more pleasing to God than another style?
- Does God prefer quiet meditation or making a joyful noise?
- Does God prefer liturgy or the flow of the Spirit?
- Does God prefer that we worship in a style that we enjoy, or doesn’t it matter to him?

Most of the verses about worship in the Bible use terms of celebration and joy. We see a lot of words like shout, gladness, exult, joy, praise, music, dance, and sing loudly. While reverence is always supposed to be the attitude, our gatherings as God's people should be expressions of praise. The mood of worship in the psalms is often one of excitement and exuberance. Whatever the mood, it needs to be genuine. Worship has to be a balance and blend of moods and emotions without manipulation. Personally, when the family of God assembles each Sunday, I like to see a group of people who are glad to see each other, excited to be there, and anticipating something life-changing. I like to hear buzz in the room. To me it's an expression of life. It's not a library, it's a family reunion focused on a magnificent God of majesty and splendor, holiness and love. To me, it's not a time to be quiet.

But if, for instance, the volume of the band after the service prohibits the people from talking, quiet them down. We've assembled to be with each other, to build relationships, to encourage and build each other up (1 Cor. 14.26). Let us do that.

But I don't think a loud band is irreverent. Make a joyful noise. Worship the Lord with gladness. Of course there are times and places for quiet reverence: times of repentance, remembrance. To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.
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Re: Should church be reverently quiet or is loud OK?

Postby Bobby McGee » Mon May 11, 2015 10:12 am

Thank Jim for explaining your position in a winsome manner. Of course, we agree on many things, like the idea that worship is indeed to be (usually) a joyful and glorious thing, after all, we are getting to be with the One whom we have been separated from by our rebelliousness! Our greatest Lover is now able to be with us, because his Son paid the price, how is that NOT exciting?

But as we know, Scripture must interpret Scripture, and we are shown that almost every time people come before God, they are scared to death, in fear that they are going to die. They are not partying. Moses at Sinai, Peter in the boat, time and again, the people of God, when the come before the true God, are in fear and awe. This is how we know it is the real God, not an idol.

Even if a wild animal would touch the mountain that God dwelt on, it was to be stoned. Hebrews 12:21 states: Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”

Hebrews 12:28 teaches us that there is only one kind of worship that is pleasing to him. We do not get to choose what we want, but we must give God what God wants.

"let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe."

As the author of Hebrews shows us, in order for our worship to be pleasing, it must have a certain degree of fear. People wonder why people no longer are holy; it is because we no longer fear God.

Nadab and Abihu offered God an offering, without being commanded or asked, they took the initiative, and were creative. They were consumed and destroyed.

The bottom line is, are we trying to please God or entertain ourselves and have fun? If we want to be entertained and have fun, that is why we have movie theaters. If we are trying to please God, lets do what he wants. If I want to take my wife on a date and treat her special, I play the music she likes, not the music I like.

Who are we trying to make happy? The crowd? or God? God does not find all music pleasing, all worship pleasing, only that which is full of 'reverence and awe.'
Bobby McGee

Re: Should church be reverently quiet or is loud OK?

Postby jimwalton » Mon May 11, 2015 10:33 am

Bobby, thanks for the reply. I was not, as you recognized, contending that worship was always to be loud and joyful, only that the dominant mood of worship in the Bible is often that of gladness. There are times and places where worship needs to be distinctly different.

The texts you have chosen are when people were confronted with the presence of God, not when the people were particularly assembled for worship. Without exception, when people were confronted with the awesome presence of God, they felt fear and terror at his sight. In contrast, the mood of much worship in the Psalms is often that of joy. In Ezra we have an example of a solemn ceremony, when the people were coming before God in confession and repentance. There are obviously occasions in worship when silent reverence is the only appropriate mood.

Your reference to Heb. 12.28 is well taken. It clearly states reverence and awe. The context, however, must be taken into consideration, particularly the catastrophe of Heb. 12.26-27, where the point is that we should not revert back to the old covenant, but respond to God's invitation offered in the New one. Let's not participate in a system of works, sacrifices, and Law. When God comes back for His own, we want to be found being faithful, having received a kingdom (the New Covenant) that cannot be shaken. I don't think it's fair to take v. 28 as an indicator that the volume of all worship is to be in quiet reverence.

Your reference to Nadab and Abihu is also misleading. Their sin was not initiative and creativity, but their disobedience in offering unauthorized fire. Let's not draw the conclusion that initiative and creative are not welcome in worship. Ps. 33.3 speaks of new songs, and Ps. 150 encourages varied and multiple expressions of clamorous worship.

> The bottom line is, are we trying to please God or entertain ourselves and have fun?

This wasn't even a question on the table. You can't begin to tell me what style or volume of music God prefers. You quote Heb. 12.28 for quiet music, but for more boisterous expressions I'll quote Psalm 100, Psalm 95, Psalm 96, Psalm 149:1, Revelation 4, Psalm 96:1, Psalm 150, 1 Corinthians 14.1, 26, Hebrews 10.24-25, many texts from Acts, Eph. 5.19; Col. 3.16; Revelation 5.11b-12, Rev. 4.8, 11; Revelation 5.8-10, 12-13; 1 Timothy 4.13, and 1 Corinthians 14.22-25.

God delights in diversity. God created people of many cultures and cultural expressions. You're stepping outside of Scripture to contend that God only likes quiet music.
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Re: Should church be reverently quiet or is loud OK?

Postby Bobby McGee » Mon May 11, 2015 11:15 am

Jim, thanks for replying. I am glad you take such things serious, and I apologize for any confusion I may have caused. We will be held accountable for careless words, and I may have been too careless. I will try to be more careful. Hopefully I may be able to clear up any confusion I may have caused.

Of course I agree, God loves diversity, as well as unity; that is what beauty is, harmonized diversity. Indeed, we are to be full of diversity, I don’t think anyone advocates absolute uniformity, at least, I for one do not!

With regards to Hebrews 12:28, I think I miscommunicated. I am not saying that that passage teaches that music can never be loud. The sound of the music is not what I am addressing, not directly. I am only advocating that music (its tone, temp, words, and of course volume) are not to be flippant, sensual and erotic, or commonplace. It is to be special. This does affect many things, to include the volume.

Now I, as well as 2000 years of theologians and pastors, would disagree with your understanding of Hebrews. Indeed we should put it in context, with the new covenant. But this passage does still apply to all worship, however it is to be done, is to be done with reverence and awe.

I do not want to misunderstand you, but it seems that you hold that it is only sometimes to be done in reverence and awe. Is this correct? If so, how exactly have you exegeted this? It certainly goes against 2000 years of church history.

> The bottom line is, are we trying to please God or entertain ourselves and have fun?

I must strongly beg to differ with you. This is absolutely on the table, even if nobody wants it there. If it wasn’t on the table, I just put it there, and it’s there to stay. Man, by nature, is evil and worships self. Once we have been born of heaven, we are able to truly worship God. This is what characterizes worship that is ‘relevant’ and ‘fun’ verses the kind that is pleasing to God.

You seem to struggle with the idea that God does not find all worship equally pleasing. Though he delights in diversity, he also demands things done his way. Nadab and Abihu does show this actually. Time and again, we see in Leviticus that “God spoke to Moses,” and “Moses did what the Lord said to him.” This is a constant refrain, until all of a sudden, Nadab and Abihu, who were not told to do anything, decided to do what they want.

Anything that we do that is not expressly commanded in worship, is sin. This does not mean we cannot have lights and electricity. This does mean that we cannot have puppet shows. Such is disrespectful and flippant. God has used these things of course, just as he used the murder of his Eternal Son for our salvation. But that does not mean the murder was justified.
Bobby McGee

Re: Should church be reverently quiet or is loud OK?

Postby jimwalton » Mon May 11, 2015 11:27 am

I largely agree with you, Bobby. Our misunderstandings are easily attributable to the limitations of a written forum rather than the benefits of face-to-face conversation. I agree that ALL worship should be in reverence and awe, but neither of those words speaks to the topic at hand: loud or quiet. They refer to the mood of the heart, not the volume of the praise. I'm confident we both agree. I am certainly not advocating that only at times does worship need to be reverent. The catch is that we must be wary not to interpret "reverent" according to our culture and preferences. "Reverent," as already said, is a heart matter, not a decibel one. Sometimes the most reverent is the most raucous; sometimes the most reverent is the most muted. The word itself doesn't define the volume, but only the devotion in it.

> The bottom line is, are we trying to please God or entertain ourselves and have fun?

Are you assuming that joyful and loud music is to entertain ourselves? I don't think that's what you're saying, but your sentence and context could possibly be interpreted that way. I'm confident that we both agree that true worship is God-focused, God-pleasing, and God-oriented. But that doesn't, again, preclude clamorous praise.

> You seem to struggle with the idea that God does not find all worship equally pleasing.

Not a bit. Don't misinterpret me here. Nadab and Abihu's worship was not pleasing. Isaiah 1 and Amos both let us know very clearly that there is much about worship that is not pleasing to God. It's just that I don't consider that decibel level is where that line is crossed. The Scriptures teach us much about worship that is pleasing and displeasing to God, but "making the joyful noise" and "worship the Lord with gladness" is not the issue. It's the position and direction of the heart, the intent of the worshipper, reverence and awe, the free expression of gratitude and gladness, and recognizing and rehearsing all of who God is, and giving all of myself to Him. I'm confident we both agree on those things.
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Re: Should church be reverently quiet or is loud OK?

Postby Bobby McGee » Mon May 11, 2015 11:51 am

Indeed, it seems that we have very much in agreement, which is always an enjoyable thing. You are correct in assuming that I do not assume loud or joyful music necessitates being people-centered. The worship at the church I attend is often both. But most people would reject it, because it has trumpets instead of electrics guitars, it has timpani drums instead of snare drums. It doesn't sound like I turned the radio on and am listening to average everyday music that was created just to make a quick buck. And so this is 'boring'. Too many people decide what church to attend based on what they feel, what they like. This is an unhealthy thing.

I am glad that we agree that not all styles and forms of worship please God. You have pointed out the exact thing that I tend to point out, which is that things are often more complicated then they appear. Figuring out exactly, with precision, what is going to glorify God the most, is not an easy thing to do. But even though perfect is not attainable this side of heave, we are still to strive for it.

As Tim Challies points out; Scripture teaches us the following necessary requirements for worship, after all, worship is not singing or making music merely, as we learn from the tabernacle, but the whole service. Below are what the New Testament shows us.

We are to worship God in ways that edify our local church. 1 Corinthians 14:26
We are to worship God in a proper and orderly manner. 1 Corinthians 14:40
We are to worship God in Spirit and truth. John 4:24
We are to worship God in reverence. Hebrews 12:28-29
We are to worship God in awe. Hebrews 12:28-29

What is included in worship?

The reading of Scripture (Acts 15:21, Rev. 1:3)
The preaching of the Word of God (2 Timothy 4:2)
The hearing of the word of God (James 1:19)
The singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Col. 3:16, Eph. 5:19, James 5:13)
Baptism (Matthew 28:19)
The Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23, Acts 2:42)
The Collection of Offerings (Gal. 2:10; 1 Cor. 9:3-12)

How exactly to go about this on the other hand, can be easier said then done. But I trust that when we ask God to give us wisdom, that he will, and will not be stingy about it. Those who want to know God's will, how to please him, he will not be long in revealing such. I pray that we pray for discernment.

It was a pleasure discussing things with you today Jim. Perhaps we can continue some time, looking at more of the details.
Bobby McGee

Re: Should church be reverently quiet or is loud OK?

Postby Mike W » Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:10 pm

Regarding the original post, reverence in the church really has nothing to do with the volume of the music or even the music style really, so long as it is truly God-honoring and glorifies Him. Reverence is a mindset. It's a way of life even. It shouldn't just be in a church building for the church building is just that-just a building. It's not the same as tabernacle or the Temple of God where the presence of God actually resided. God's presence now resides in us-the new temple of the Holy Spirit therefore our lives should one of continual reverence. Reverence in our church services will be reflected by the way the congregation actually lives their lives on a day to day basis. Are they in the Word daily, praying daily, giving to the poor, living lives of self-denial to glorify the Lord as His Spirit leads? As Romans 12 states, our lives should be a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God for this is our spiritual act of worship.

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