Why Do Christians Do Weird Things During Worship?

Why Do Christians Do Weird Things During Worship?

by Rachel Gregg

Let’s be honest. Christians do some weird things.

Picture this: It’s the beginning of a Christian gathering. Before someone gets up to talk about the Bible or what he or she has been learning from God, a small band takes the stage.

The lights dim.

Eyes close.

Hands raise.

Some people kneel.

There’s a girl in the back corner waving a flag and dancing.

Somehow, everyone seems to know the tune to the words projected on the screen.

And then there's you: Uncomfortable and with a million questions.

It can be confusing, especially if you’re new to Christian gatherings, why some people are so active during musical worship. But the things followers of Jesus do at gatherings like this are not an accident. When done with a pure heart, raised hands and dancing feet are not for show or to draw attention toward the worshiper. Revelation 4:9-11 says that worship is your response to God’s love and sacrifice.

Several members of the Urbana 12 worship team shared their insights on praising God through physical expression:

Raised Hands Show Your Position toward God

Jackie Bode, an Urbana12 worship team vocalist, describes three reasons why Christians raise their hands in worship using analogies from daily life:

A runner crossing the finish line:

What does a track star do as soon as she breaks the through the ribbon at the end of a grueling race? Raise her hands in victory!

Jesus has been victorious over sin and death. Lifting your hands to him can be a sign of celebrating all that he’s accomplished (Exodus 17:11).

A criminal after being caught:

What does a criminal do right before he is arrested? Raise his hands in surrender.

Sometimes Jesus will show you your sin or an area of your life that you haven’t yet welcomed him into. In this situation, raised hands can show that you are yielding to his work in your life. You are giving up, and he can do what he wants in you (Psalm 51).

A toddler wanting to be picked up:

What does a toddler do when he wants to be held and cuddled by his parents? Raise his hands in desperation.

God is a good dad. He wants to take care of you. He tells you who you are and knows everything about where you’ve been and where you’re headed. Raising your hands to him, like a child waiting to be picked up, shows your dependence on him (1 John 3:1).

Raised hands can mean different things to worshipers at different times. All of it is honoring to God.

Movement Praises Your Creator

Everyone will express himself or herself a little differently, and there’s no wrong or right way to praise your Creator. God created you with a unique background, personality, and abilities. You may be from a culture that is more expressive with words, or one in which people are more expressive with their bodies. Even within a culture, people can have unique ways of showing God love: Some people stand stiffly and worship God with their whole mind, while others worship God freely when they are dancing before him (Psalm 14:3). 

Jackie emphasized how important it is to avoid the temptation to compare your style to others:

“Everyone expresses worship differently. To compare yourself to someone else is not only a distraction, it’s sin. God cares most about where your heart is in worship, not how good you look doing it.”

Worship is meant to be an expression of your love for your Heavenly Father. There is no right or wrong way to do it—it’s all about the heart behind your words or posture. Remember that during musical worship, your only audience is God. He's not as interested in your posture as he is interested in your heart.

Getting Started

Laila Brand, a vocalist on the Urbana 12 worship team, encountered expressive worship for the first time as a college student. It was very helpful to her to watch people around her and ask questions about why they do what they do during worship.

It’s okay to try things that you may be uncomfortable with at first," Laila says, "especially in situations like Urbana where everyone is learning new music, and everyone will be out of their comfort zones.”

There’s more to this than taking a risk and throwing up your hands during a song. It’s not about trying something new just to try it. If you are not fully engaged in adoration of your Father, the rest is just a show.

The next time you’re in a worship service, look around you. Ask people questions. Ask God questions, too. How would he like you to worship him?