God in the Margins: Introverted Worship, a Jamie Kocur Guest Post

randomlychad  —  May 9, 2012 — 30 Comments

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.

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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.

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Thank-you, Jamie!

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.”

Jamie’s blog is Rebooting Worship, and you can follow her on Twitter @jamiekocur

How about you? What’s your worship experience like? Are you accepted for who you are in your church?

Comments

comments

randomlychad

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Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers. Subscribe to RandomlyChad by Email

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  • Ricky Anderson

    I grew up Lutheran. Worshipping internally is expected.

    If you’re feeling frisky, you might close your eyes or tap your foot.

    • If you’re feeling frisky. I love it.

      Maybe I’m in the wrong denomination…

      • That sounds like a discussion I had with a friend of mine.

        I became a Christian at age 15 in a part of the country where the “town church” was, shall we say, less than Biblical. God finally led me to a Disciples of Christ church, after not being able to find a Church of God in which I wouldn’t have been happy, but I would’ve gotten to meet my wife’s family about 13 years too early. Anyhow, the DoC church was very “liturgical” and all that; one of the great debates when the choir came together was what the “liturgical color” was for that week. That’s as lively as it got.

        When they basically drove us out with false accusations (another guest post? Eh, maybe not this time) precisely a week short of 20 years there, we found Calvary Chapel, Melbourne, FL. At first the music time (since it’s all worship!) was adequately mellow, and unlike most “Charismaniac” churches, I didn’t feel like a leper or a heathen because I didn’t raise my hands. That continued into today at a different Calvary Chapel we helped start.

        The biggest problem for me, besides being an introvert, is hyper-sensitive hearing and a lap-band at the top of the stomach. The former makes higher frequencies truly painful, and the latter makes subwoofer-booming bass feel like a sledgehammer inside of my chest (no relation to “How He Loves” mentioned above).

        Sorry, but I’m no fan of the thought that one should exit the
        concert music time with a migraine and nausea.

        We left the first Calvary Chapel in part over the music volume, after one of the pastors publicly confessed that they did it to get people to sing louder! (It wasn’t working, since you couldn’t hear yourself over the band, no matter where you were in the auditorium sanctuary!) I ran the sound at the newer one specifically so I’d be in control of the volume, but I had to give that up for several reasons.

        All that to frame the discussion. My friend, who grew up with the “old hymns,” mentioned “traditional” vs. “contemporary” services as a possible solution. I flat-out disagreed with him. The “old hymns” echo back to the “high church, low Spirit” days that I doubt I could handle anymore. Why not modern music, or even Spirit-led hymns, with about 8dB less volume?!?

        Apparently that’s not popular with the extroverts, so I wonder how long it’ll be before I have to bail again.

        • Thanks for sharing. I can relate to the high volume. I have some eat issues that often make loud noise unbearable. I too would love contemporary music that doesn’t kill my eats.

          • *ears

          • I was going to say, you’d probably like an autocorrect that knows when to use “ears” vs. “eats.” 😀

          • Yes. Yes I would.

  • Jamie, I couldn’t agree more. As a guy in worship services, it is intimidating and awkward when I feel forced to sing feminine songs. I don’t doubt the God is beautiful or that He loves us forever, but many times I don’t want to sing these things out loud. I’m not saying “me man, me too tough to sing of love” (cave man voice), but many times I don’t know how to process these things in my mind very well. Especially at 9:00 in the morning.

    • Such a good point, Jim. I began to understand this more after I got married. Touchy feely songs are not for everyone.

      Have you seen the Tim Hawkins bit about male worship songs? Quite funny. “let’s sit here in silence Lord. No touching…”

    • Jim, I hear you. Does it weird you out to think of yourself as “the bride of Christ?” Yeah--me, too. 🙂

      Also, where do you stand on John Mark McMillan’s “How He Loves?” Do you prefer “sloppy, wet kiss,” or “unforeseen kiss?”

      😉

      • Dude, yeah totally. I’m a fan of the unforeseen kiss. I’m not usually the “lets censor everything” guy, but we don’t need songs about french kissing/passionate kissing in church. I mean, what’s next? (Chad, you don’t have to answer that. It’s called a rhetorical question 😉 haha)

        • I know what’s next: the day you bring your 10yo to service is the day the pastor starts teaching through Song of Solomon. 😉

          • TOTALLY saw that coming. I almost mentioned that in my other comment. Nice.

      • Ha! Yes, the classic example.

      • The first version I heard was from Crowder (formerly the David Crowder Band). Sorry, Dave, but here’s how the lyrics from you sounded to me:

        And heaven meets earth
        Like an ultra-sheen cass
        And my halitose family
        Inside of my head

        What a “cass” is and how he knew my family had bad breath is another story. 😀

  • Glad to know I’m not alone, Jamie. I often sit in silence during worship services, and as a worship leader, that’s a bit odd. But it’s worship nonetheless, and I think Jesus values it all the same.

    • So true. I was really excited when my church started a few services with some silence. It was so nice to have even just 30 seconds of quiet. I think I worship more in the quiet than I do the noise.

  • A few things…

    1. I posted on being an introvert today as well!
    2. Even though I’m an introvert, this post made me want to jump up and down, shout, and share it with the world that someone understood!
    3. Introverts and extroverts need each other--finding the balance, that’s the tricky parat.

    • Love it. You’re right. Introverts and extroverts do need each other. If we could only figure out how to work together!

      • I have a wacky theory that we are all both introverts and extroverts. It’s just a comfort level that separates us. I’m like 100 times more likely to come up and talk to someone I don’t know now (post nervous breakdown) and I still would consider myself more of an introvert.

        • Interesting thought. I don’t think it’s too off the wall. I’ve gone through “extroverted seasons” where I’m way more outgoing than I ever thought possible.

          And I’m surprised to hear you call yourself an introvert. 🙂

          • I’m currently reading Susan Cain’s excellent book Quiet, and she mentions “ambiverts”--folks who are both. I’ve had others mention that they are “functional extroverts” during the day, but are really introverts by temperament. There may not be a hard and fast line, but there are brain structure differences between introverts and extroverts. It’s all very fascinating.

          • I’ve heard about that book. Need to add it to the “to read” list. I’ve heard her speak on introversion and it was great.

  • I have gotten to know Jamie mainly through Acuff’s blog, though now I am reaching into hers too. I appreciate her honesty and ability to show all of us that it’s ok to worship how you worship.

  • Trenni

    I’m a worship leader in my church and there’s a blend of introverts and extroverts on the team (I’m an introvert) and I have been made to feel that because my worship does not mimic that of the extroverts that it’s not what I should be doing and I feel guilty because it’s being drilled in us that real worship looks like that of the extrovert…in my heart I felt like my worship was for real but I couldn’t help but think that maybe I was wrong

    • Thanks for sharing. I pray you continue to worship in your own way.