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"Emotionality" and worship singing

If you weren't here on May 19th, 2024, I'd encourage you to go back and listen to the sermon from Pastor Andrew. I think the Lord has been doing much through the preaching of His word to help our church grow in our time of worship through singing.

I wanted to write this blog to encourage us to continue to grow in this area and begin to put the things he mentioned into place. If we are not careful, we can all be tempted to hear a great sermon, say amen, and then slowly drift back into our old ways/habits.

I hope to continue to discuss growing in singing by addressing one of the most common areas of concern that I hear regarding why people struggle to sing with passionate engagement..."emotionality".

What does that even mean? Emotionality is the idea of our emotions taking over. Of having emotions for emotions sake. Maybe even the idea of "giving over" to our emotions. For many of us, this rubs us the wrong way. Maybe we don't like the idea of being given over to anything, or we are afraid of others seeing us in an emotional state. For some, maybe you've been taught your whole life that emotions are bad and need to be "kept in check". For some, maybe you grew up in churches where the time of singing was hyper-emotional and you often felt that they were trying to manipulate you into feeling something you just weren't with things like lights, smoke, music, and song choices. For some, it might be just as simple as "that's not how I grew up".

The truth is, emotionality is not necessarily a good thing, and we are supposed to be exercising the fruit of the Spirit that is self-control. We do want to avoid shallow and manipulative worship "experiences", right? Well, yes and no.

Is it possible that because of our fear of so many of these things, we have completely removed from our time of music and singing a key component of engagement with God, which is our heart. Emotions are driven by our heart, what we love and desire. If you told me that Florida State won their game last week, I'd have almost no emotion, because I really don't care much at all about Florida State sports teams. Yet when I hear that my favorite golfer won the tournament, I get excited and joyful.

So shouldn't it follow that singing the amazing truths of God's word should actually produce emotions if we hold those truths near and dear to our hearts? Maybe in our pursuit of avoiding the emotionality, we have accidentally trained ourselves to remove all emotions in worship entirely. Now we sing that "death has no hold on me" and it is as if you were told boring news.

Isn't it possible that the very reason God created music in the first place, is because it engages our emotion? That's what it is supposed to do! So when you put a God-created art that produces emotion and biblical truth together, then emotions should be flowing! Now we can see why the Psalmists were always shouting and dancing for joy as they sung.

Emotions, even in singing, are not a bad thing. They are a God-given reality of being human. To grow in proper emotions during singing, means to grow more deeply in love with Jesus. As you treasure more and more the truths we sing our hearts will overflow. The problem is we often get in our own way. We get caught up in songs we don't like, or fear of being seen as "standing out". But church please don't let these secondary things keep you from the primary thing of engaging with your savior as he has asked us to, in joyful and passionate singing of His praises!

Maybe the only thing that is worse than emotionally manipulative worship singing, is corporate worship that is not. In other words, we do not seek to be manipulative, yet where your emotions are not being stirred at all, we can end up in a stale and shallow place during our time of singing.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;

my flesh also dwells secure.

Psalm 16:9

I'd encourage you to continue to pray and consider how you may sing and praise God with your whole being. As Pastor Andrew encouraged us, take small steps in the right direction. Sing, sing louder, raise your hands to your heavenly father, bow in reverence, smile, close your eyes, or many other possible applications. But most importantly, let the word of Christ dwell richly in you so that your passionate singing will be coming from an authentic place of adoration for the Gospel and your King.

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