Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tale of the Tambourine Lady: Are You a Distraction in Worship?

It was a glorious Sunday morning.  The congregation was congregating, pastors were pastoring, and the worship team was doing that prayer circle thing where you're invited to lead out as the spirit leads but then just stand there in awkward, yet reverent, silence.  After our stirring "go team" we ventured out onto the stage and took our positions, readying ourselves for an encounter with the Father.
Throwing my guitar strap over my shoulder, I made sure everything was in tune and stepped up to the mic.  Looking out over the good people of our church I did what any good worship leader should do to start the service and inspire all those groggy, but dedicated, first service folks... I proceeded with a short series of irritating questions.

"Are you excited to be in the house of the Lord?  Are you ready to worship?  Won't you stand with me?"

As people began slowly rising from their seats I noticed a new face sitting in the second row.  She glanced up at me and I mouthed the word "welcome" to her as she smiled.  I'm always glad to see new people joining us, then I saw her retrieve the largest tambourine I've ever seen, which had somehow been hiding in her purse.  Had Mary Poppins come to church today?  Whose taking care of the Banks children!?  Who will give them their spoon full of sugar!?!?
Needless to say, a feeling of dread crept over me as if Miss Poppins had snapped her fingers and commanded it too.

We kicked off the first song, nice and up tempo, and I watched as our guest stretched out, wound up, and began beating that giant tambourine like it had just tried to steal her purse.
The problem here was that I did not have in ear monitors and could hear every single, delightful, thump and tinkle from our new self appointed team member who refused to confine her expression of worship to the prison cell we call "tempo".  She was flying her freedom flag and stomping those feet like the devil himself was directly under her pew.

Well, after repeated attempts to get the attention of one of our ushers I gave up and focused as best I could on the remainder of the set... Apparently the lovely lady and I had the same plan except she wanted a solo.

Why am I sharing this?  Because it is possible to be a distraction in worship.  I'll be the first to stand up and advocate for freedom of expression but you also need to be aware of the people around you.  Are you taking away from their experience?  Are you slugging then in the head with a gigantic tambourine?  You can argue that focusing on something like this will only take YOUR attention away from worship.  Its not a matter of removing all your attention from worship.  Just be aware of where you're waving your flag (I got clocked in the face by a worship flag once) or if the massive percussion instrument you toted with you to church is going to be appropriate for the setting.  You might need to just wait for a your Sunday evening family jam sessions.