Today’s guest post comes from new friend of the blog, Jamie Kocur. It deals with her feelings as an introvert worshipping/leading worship in an extroverted church culture.
For some time, I have felt that I was expected to worship a certain way. This way involves hand raising, loud singing, big arm movements and gesticulating, and often a general look of pain on your face. This should take place preferably on the first couple rows at church.
If I’m not worshipping in this way, I feel guilty, like I’m not doing it right. Modern, contemporary church services seem to have clearly communicated that this is the way to worship. Worship leaders stand at the front, loudly shouting instructions and demonstrating their own expression of discomfort. To properly love Jesus requires energy, shouting, and large speakers.
I am tired of feeling guilty.
What about the times when I just want to sit in the back row and quietly sing along, or even not sing at all? What if I want to keep my hands by my side? What if I want to worship Jesus more internally than externally?
How can an introvert worship in an extroverted church?
I have found myself caught in this struggle in two different ways: as a worship leader and as a worshipper. As a worship leader, I tend to lead more contemplative songs. This is what I gravitate toward. I was gently encouraged to include more “energetic” songs. The request aggravated me somehow. It seemed like the extroverts were always heard over the introverts (and why am I surprised at this?). I felt that I was encouraged to do these “up” songs more because that was the general expectation of worship. Honestly, these songs drained me as a leader. I’d finish feeling like I had nothing left to give.
As a worshipper, I grow tired of constantly hearing these “up” songs. There is a place for them and I admit I have had my extroverted moments of worship. We do need to praise and thank Jesus, and sometimes this involves extroverted ways.
But what about those introverted moments of worship that seem so few and far between? Even the “down” songs contain a certain energy and expectation. These are the songs that require hands raised as high as possible. What about those of us that aren’t so comfortable with these things?
Can introverts have a chance to worship God in their own way, without being made to feel that we’re doing it wrong?
Sometimes, when everyone else stands during worship, I choose to remain seated. Instead of loudly singing along, I quietly contemplate the words in my mind. I close my eyes and try to pray through the noise. Am I worshipping wrong if I choose to do it this way? I often feel people’s eyes on me, burning through me, wondering who this heathen is who can’t stand for Jesus.
I love Jesus with all my heart. Really, I do. And I love to sing, especially for Him. I simply long for ways to worship that feel more authentic to my heart. I’ve worn myself out trying to fake my energy and worship the “right” way.
My cry and plea to the church is to help the introverts worship in their own way. Stop making us feel like the oddballs. Give us freedom to worship as we’d like, quietly and internally.
In her own words, Jamie is:
“I am a musician, songwriter, writer, and occasional worship leader who blogs about worship and my struggle with it at Rebooting Worship. I have a church music degree from Florida State University, and after graduation I spent three years volunteering with the African Children’s Choir. I have been married to my wonderful husband for almost four years and together we enjoy music, traveling, and photography.”
How about you? What’s your worship experience like? Are you accepted for who you are in your church?