Thoughts from a recovering worship leader
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I wish the church would just shut up

November 21st, 2011 | Posted by jamie in Thoughts

“Be still and know that I am God…”

Psalm 46:10

I know this verse well. I even knew the reference without looking it up. But guess what? The application of this verse? I suck at it. Totally suck.

I can’t keep still. I have always been the type of person who runs a million miles an hour and never stops and then wonders a) why I’m so tired and b) why I can’t fall asleep at night.

My husband and I took a vacation this year to a beautiful, quiet, mountaintop cabin with the sole purpose of resting; i.e. doing nothing. No sight seeing, no driving all over to visit new places, nada. We promised each other that we would do this and not get swept away with the sparkly draw of souvenir shops and quaint mountain towns (this might be more my weakness than his).

We did it. With the exception of sneaking away for an hour of fishing (my hubby wanted to use the rod and reel he’d bought years ago) and a couple outings for necessities, we did it. We stayed perched in our mountain top view and rested.

It was REEEEALLY hard. Sitting still for four days nearly killed me. I got restless. I got bored and was desperate to get out and explore those mountain towns. But we pushed through and rested.

By the end of the week, I didn’t want to leave. I sadly bid goodbye to my window seat perch and days of journaling and coffee. I tearfully packed up the car, and reluctantly headed back into my hectic life. I was able to be still, but I had to be forced to do it. The end result was awesome.

I would love to have more stillness in my worship. But in most of my church worship experiences, there is none. It seems that every moment of quiet is filled. There is pre-sevice music. The service begins with a loud, energetic song that builds up in volume. Announcements are done by some energetic staff member or volunteer who barely leaves room for a breath. More loud music. Instrumental interludes are filled with some dramatic thought by the worship leader. Even the prayer time isn’t allowed any quiet. Out of nowhere, soft keyboard or strummed guitar comes through the speakers. Sermon time is (usually) good, but it doesn’t allow me time alone with my thoughts as I’m busy processing the lesson. Even communion time isn’t given the quiet it deserves. It seems most communion time is filled with singing or some sort of special music. Then as we leave, there is a reprise of one of the worship songs.

Not a single moment of stillness. Not a single moment of quiet in which to sit alone with my thoughts, process what’s going through my brain, and offer up what’s left to God. I walk out feeling no more refreshed then when I walked in. Often, more exhausted too.

If being still is a command of God, why isn’t the church making stillness more accessible to us? If people are anything like me, they need a little encouragement and prodding toward the quiet. Our lives have made it incredibly difficult to find it ourselves.

My cry and plea to the church is to stop doing and help us just be.

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  • Vckzta

    Oh my, I so agree! I just want a song to end and just let the silence be instead of the worship leader jumping in with a prayer. Let the silence be its own prayer. Back in the day, when we were still singing All in All, we’d often do the chorus acapella. At the end of each phrase there would be a tiny fraction of a second of silence. It was in that tiny fraction of quiet that I found perfection in worship

    • http://rebootingworship.com/ Jamie Kocur

      So well said. Even a brief moment of silence can be worshipful.

  • http://www.LifeAsExperienced.com SethCaddell

    I was in a church one time that had silence for communion. The elder who gave the little communion thought said, “You’re going to think this is awkward since we all fill every quiet moment with noise, but it’ll be good.” He was right on. The silence in the room. The occassional klink of a ring hitting the metal tray. A cough here and there. As Christians we need to embrace the silence. Great post!

    • http://rebootingworship.com/ Jamie Kocur

      I love it… “You’re going to think this is awkward…” So true. It is always awkward, but so wonderful. I love silent communion. It feels so… holy and reverent.

  • http://www.4thandgoals.com Jeff Williams

    Great post Jamie. It’s almost hard to imagine what quiet time in a church service would actually sound like, but I agree that it would be a welcome change of pace.

    • http://rebootingworship.com/ Jamie Kocur

      Thanks. It’s kind of sad when we’re not even sure what silence in church would sound like.

  • Sarah S.

    Girl, we are kindred spirits. We have to fight to find those times of stillness. This is weird (like the awkwardness of the silent church in the other comment): I think of going to worship for other people. It is my time to bless others by my presence. Does that sound conceited? It’s my time to see who I can encourage, etc. and, yes, I will sing and “do all the stuff” — but I do my best worship in my chair at 5 a.m. in the stillness of my house.

    • http://beautifulsynthesis.com Andrea

      I’m a person who craves stillness, but I’d agree that I treat “church worship” as a time to be a lot of things that aren’t “still”. But then, “church worship” isn’t the only kind of worship. I’ve got a spot in my bedroom that’s for being still. I don’t sit there as often as I should, but it’s there.

      And I should sit there more often, because that’s when I hear God best, it’s when I sort through my own thoughts best, and it’s really how I keep my sanity.

      • http://rebootingworship.com/ Jamie Kocur

        I have a spot too. I’m trying to spend more time there myself.

    • http://rebootingworship.com/ Jamie Kocur

      I agree… we do have to fight.
      I don’t think it’s conceited to want to go to church to bless others. If you’re a person who has the gift of encouragement, it’s good to want to be there for others. Heck, you might be the person I need to see. :)

  • http://www.sarahstirman.com/ Sarah S.

    Girl, we are kindred spirits. We have to fight to find those times of stillness. This is weird (like the awkwardness of the silent church in the other comment): I think of going to worship for other people. It is my time to bless others by my presence. Does that sound conceited? It’s my time to see who I can encourage, etc. and, yes, I will sing and “do all the stuff” — but I do my best worship in my chair at 5 a.m. in the stillness of my house.

  • http://cherylbarker.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Barker

    Jamie, I would like to see some more quiet time in church, too. Our communion time has gotten too noisy as well. I would be fine with soft music playing in the background, but having the praise team sing makes it almost impossible to ask God to search our hearts and then actually listen for His voice.

    • http://rebootingworship.com/ Jamie Kocur

      YES!!! Singing during communion has become my biggest worship pet peeve. My church service used to have this awesome, reverent communion time that wasn’t rushed. It was always my favorite part of the service. I could take all the time I needed to prepare my heart (in quiet with some soft instrumental music playing.) Now it’s been changed to the dunk and run communion time with special music every week. My heart sinks every time. I miss that special, quiet communion time.

  • http://www.whomademeanexpert.com Marcus Smith

    That is the one thing I like about my Old-School Southern-Baptist Church. Our pastor’s philosophy on worship is “be still, and know I am God” (he told us that in a sermon once). We recently added a prelude time to use to prepare our hearts for worship – there’s music, but it is soft piano music with no singing. We also have a long offertory time, again with piano and no singing – good quiet time. As badly as I want us to have a more modern worship time, I do rather like the quite times. Now, the rest of Sunday – not a day of rest (singing in choir, teaching Sunday school, etc..)

    • http://rebootingworship.com/ Jamie Kocur

      I like the idea of the prelude time. I don’t think we spend enough time preparing our hearts for worship.

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