Great question

resizeDear Mark,

I’ve been looking for a church lately. I’ve been attending a conservative style church because of the Bible teaching the last few weeks. I’ve never been one for the crazy Charismatic services as I think the disorderliness of them Paul would have rebuked, however I’m not a Cessationist, but THIS church is entirely the opposite.

I want your opinion. This morning at this church the preacher in his sermon was boasting of how at their church they love the bible so much & how they’re #1 focus is scripture & biblical knowledge. As a result of these values he explained that this was why they don’t do anything more than hymns, because emotional experience in worship distract people…? I’m trying to fairly represent what he was saying. But it seemed like he was saying that enjoyable music would distract from the message, as it might evoke an emotional response instead of a cognitive one.

I recently had another Christian tell me that they also (at his church) only sing hymns and this individual proceeded to also state that he didn’t need more than hymns because he didn’t need an emotional experience in worship.

Now I would agree, the focus of worship should not be about what feelings or emotional experiences I can get, however I can’t help but interpret these types of sentiments to be saying (in short) that Sunday morning worship should basically be bad enough so as to not engage people in order that they not lose focus on the Lord Jesus or the mental content of the message.

What would you say to those who assert worshiping in hymns is healthy & little more is needed?

How would you respond to this type of attitude?

I’m at a total loss for words as to how to respond. I guess my thought in service when he made the comment was “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind & strength”. I feel like they’re priding themselves on NOT engaging heart & soul during worship….



Suggesting that we not sing songs that provoke an emotional response to toward God is like telling a newly-wed not to speak sweet words of love to his wife because it might provoke an emotional response from her. We are emotional creatures because we are made in the image of God and He is an emotional being. He is emotional/ passionate toward us and He desires that we be emotional/ passionate toward Him.

The Bible is full of images of great tenderness and intimacy.

The Bible is an emotional book because God is an emotional God. I believe that what you are dealing with is the classic evangelical/intellectual fear of “getting carried away”. I deal with this argument in my book “Reluctantly Supernatural in an Age of Reason”. You might want to read it. You can get a free preview when you subscribe to the website here.

To summarize my point; intellectual Christianity often avoids any kind of emotional response to God because it/they fear being “out of control”. This leads to emotional repression that actually stifles intimacy with God. The result is that they know a great deal about God and little OF God.

It would be like reading a biography about a famous person without ever meeting him – a sad substitute for a real relationship. By the way, in saying what I have said about “intellectual Christianity” I am not taking a cheap shot for the sake of gratuitous insult. For years I was one of those emotionally repressed intellectual Christians. Thankfully the Holy Spirit touched my heart and ushered me into a deep Father/child relationship with God.

The experience of His love is the fuel that runs my service to Him. It has brought me into a relational reality with God that touches the whole of my person; mind, emotions, body and spirit. My life was changed forever, and I would never go back. Hope this helps.


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