When worship goes awry…

When worship goes awry…

Okay, okay, okay. I know. This is a day of tragedy and mourning for my lost and beloved RodentMobile. But blame it on Travis Johnson. He posted a link to the “Concerned pastor” voicemail Trent Fuller released on the GraceHead blog, and I badly needed the humor. Perhaps you do, too.

I’m a white guy (well, not really, I’m Hispanic—maybe [long story]—but I think I’m white) so, naturally, I don’t move much when I sing. And when I catch myself moving, I nervously stop, shove my hands in my pockets, and look around with a sheepish grin. The Bride of Rat, though, she loves to move when she sings. She spent a year in Brazil as an exchange student and learned to enjoy dancing over there; consequently, she gets a little rhythm goin’ on during worship now and then.

Nothing wrong with that. Just don’t ask me to do it. Please. You’ll appreciate it. I promise.

But what happens when you put someone with a little rhythm, a little soul, a little energy, up on the platform to help lead worship? What happens when someone who likes to move with the music gets caught up in it, actually starts to worship and dances before the Lord like David did? What happens when that person forgets that there are hundreds or thousands of eyes watching every move (What? Those people aren’t worshiping too?)

You get voicemail. That’s what happens.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Then the minister of music gets ahold of the voicemail and you get the ultimate postmodern rebuttal: the complainants message becomes a dance mix.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.



When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets. (2 Samuel 6:13-15, NIV)

I will build you up again
and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.
Again you will take up your tambourines
and go out to dance with the joyful.
(Jeremiah 31:4)

Then maidens will dance and be glad,
young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
(Jeremiah 31:13)

Related posts:
When sermons go awry..”
When sermons go awry, revisited.”
F-bombs, poets, and church. Or, â€Å“When church goes intentionally awry!.”
When worship goes awry..”

Update: GospelGal, a co-worker of mine, just blogged on this topic, with a whole host of really excellent questions. Head on over and interact, she said some of the stuff I was thinking about–and more–but I didn’t really have the brains to say it. That’s right, “GospelGal: thinking so you don’t have to.”

[tags]BlogRodent, Pentecostal, Evangelical, humor, funny, Christian-humor, dance, dancing, voicemail, church, worship, controversy, fun[/tags]

17 thoughts on “When worship goes awry…

  1. Pingback: GraceHead.com - Focusing on the Lord Jesus Christ!

  2. Pingback: Miscellanies

  3. YellowRose

    I just happened on your blog and am a PK’s daughter-in -law. I’ve heard similar “compliants” for years…this one is priceless! I wriggle in song service all the time…we are to “dance and be glad” and it may not be pretty to some, but it’s not for their liking! Love your site!

  4. Brendt

    OK, time for someone to poop on the parade. The caller stated that “this won’t keep me away from there”. What do you think the odds are that the “re-mix” will keep him away? (Hint: it’s gonna be real close to 1:1)

    Let us assume two things — neither of which is a big stretch:

    1) the caller is a “weaker brother” (in the Romans 14 sense)
    2) the music minister believes that whatever measure of “butt-wiggling” was going on was not inappropriate

    So, the proper response to a private message with which you disagree is to publicly make a fool out of the caller? Don’t Christians have enough problems with the media taking their beliefs and comments out of context, without the church eating its own young? This isn’t cutting off your nose to spite your face; this is cutting off your whole head.

    Romans 14:3 says, “Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat…”, i.e. the stronger brother should not look down on the weaker brother. Paul advises a proper heart attitude, and the music minister not only reacts against that, but turns the improper attitude into a public, outward action.

    If there are parts to this story that we are not being told, and the caller later made a big stink about the issue and was dividing the body, then blindly accepting him would be a violation of Romans 14:1, “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things“. But (a) this scenario is unlikely, given the nature of most of the caller’s comments and (b) even if this did happen, I’m hard-pressed to find Scriptural support for mocking a person. I even looked in the book of Hezekiah!

    Giving the music minister some measure of the benefit of the doubt, let us assume that the caller was not simply a weaker brother, but a legalist. I know that guy (not literally, but I know folks just like him). Heck, I used to be that guy! Is not the objective to help him shake off the yoke of legalism? Is not legalism a sin from which Jesus needs to free him? Or is a legalist simply too far gone to bother with? (Thank God — literally — that my pastor didn’t subscribe to that tenet.)

  5. Bruce Meyer

    I’m a Christian, a musician, and an artist. I’m real sympathetic to movin’ your body for the Lord. But I take offense at people dissin’ the fellow who left the message. He was polite, he was sympathetic, he was not critical, and he certainly did not backbite or pass rumors around, but went to the shepherd of the local flock with his concern. Give him a break.

  6. Edith

    I believe the caller was right in calling the Pastor to address this situation. This Pastor should speak to this woman to calm down her wiggle butt because it is not decent nor is it in order.

    We are allowing a carnal dance hall spirit or worse a jezebel spirit into the churches of God today. This post-modern do as you please with little or no regard to the ways of Ggod is frightening. There is no fear of god today.

    I believe the “re-mix” was out of line. We are not to dance “in the flesh” to please the flesh. We are not to cause our brother to stumble. The wiggling of butt’s in Church Services is inappropriate.

    It is lewd behavior and does not glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

    To be a legalist is to keep the laws of Moses. Or to do works to win your salvation and favor with God. We are saved by His grace, and grace alone but I will say this. The church today is in grave danger of following after the ways of babylon as did the House of Israel becoming a house of harlots and not a House of prayer. Fleshly entertainments instead of breaking the bread of life and comming into one mind, in one accord for a soverign life changing experience with the holy Ghost.

    1 Corinthians 6:15-20 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

    This is an abomination unto the Lord. He is Holy. We are to be Holy as he is Holy.

    This spirit is coming into the Apostolic Church also and it is a disgrace.

    Woman who move their bodies in a seductive manner bring damnation upon themselves. For they cause their brother to fall into sin.

    Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

    James 1:14-15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

    1 John 2:16-17 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

    Lord Bless you today!


  7. Dave McLennan

    Question: How do YOU dance without ANY flesh?

    As Dr. Gordon Anderson, President of NCBC, MN, says: there is always a mix of “Dirt and Divinity”, God in man, man working the work of God. No one can get so “spiritual” that the body is no longer a part of the equation.

    Maybe the “re-mix” was a little “over the top”, but nothing was said that it was played for the church to hear, or just passed around the office, . . . and blog-isphere.

    Michael despised David for dancing in public unto God. God closed HER womb — I guess God judged who was right and who was wrong. Read the whole passage, David promises to get even worse next time.

    Legalism and true fleshly sensuousness BOTH need to be dealt with. But the guys still have to chose whether to look at God, or the girl. We all know where that preacher, pastor, evangelist, writer’s eyes were, don’t we.

  8. Rich Post author

    Wow, returning to this post and its comments several months after the original posting I’m amazed at the tone of the responses.

    I’ve tried researching where the original voicemail and the subsequent dance-mix came from, but the further back I’ve traced it, the murkier its origins become. Really, for all I know, the original voicemail is a fake. But, no, I don’t really believe that.

    But, really, I have no evidence that the worship minister at the church which received this voicemail is the one who created the dance remix. For all I know, the voicemail recording escaped protective custody and a stranger created the remix. Because nobody has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the hijacking, we’ll probably never know.

    (And, truly, I’m shocked the blogosphere hasn’t gotten to the bottom of this yet! We can depose senators but not uncover remix artists?)

    Look, I don’t know about you, but I listened to both the voicemail and the resulting dance mix with the sort of humor and affection one can only feel toward the foibles of family members. I don’t fault the concerned pastor overmuch. I’ll admit I’ve noticed and been tempted to distraction by jiggling body parts in church. It’s a reminder to worship with my eyes closed. So, I understand the pastor’s concerns, and I’m glad I wasn’t the recipient of the original voicemail.

    But I also appreciate the way the remix relieves the tension of the original voicemail. In the best tradition of irony and satire, the remix doesn’t deny the concerned pastor’s complaints, it immortalizes it. Here’s the beauty of the irony: more people have considered his complaint and the scriptural basis for it or against it than he could ever have possibly imagined. In every page where the remix is linked, the original voicemail is included intact. I haven’t found a single website or blog where that isn’t the case.

    So, isn’t it interesting that while we can accuse the bloggers who link to this of being judgmental, they are also giving this pastor a far broader platform for his concerns than he could imagine.



  9. Bruce

    Hi Rich.
    First a side note. I sent GospelGal a bonafide note one time, one that took me a good deal of work to pull together and she ignored it, deleted it, without so much as a “by your leave.” She doesn’t have an email link, so I felt unable to do anything. BTW, my note was a bit much–I posted it on my own site then active, Opinions and Truth. But the ignoring part, that was a problem. Could you mention this to our dear sister?

    Now I forgot what I was originally writing about. When I was younger than 55, girls with flexible body parts caused me a problem. I suspect that this whole conversation hinges on the fact that we don’t have an institutionalized, systematic way of emotionally distancing the sexes. It’s the significant downside of gender equality.

    Michal’s problem vis a vis King David was that she dissed the Lord and dissed her husband, all in one breath. It’s helpful to me to remember that she had been seriously mistreated in her multiple marriage situations–not that that excuses anything.

    Oh, Rich, would ya please look in at my blog, listed on my website here. http://beinghumaninfaithartscience.blogspot.com/

    Thanks. All the best.

  10. Gospel Gal


    I most certainly did not delete or ignore your note–if it’s not posted on the site, I simply didn’t receive it(is it possible that you posted under the name “Dr. M”? If so, you’ll note that your comments are not only on the site, but I took the time to include you, by name, in my response).

    Although that conversation ended quite some time ago, you’re welcome to re-post your comments if you desire.

  11. Rich Post author

    Bruce, sorry I never noticed your comment here, or I would’ve responded to it. I’m sure there’s a mixup with your comment to LaTonya’s blog. She’s pretty responsible, as I can attest since I worked with (well, not with, more like, “in the same building”) as LaTonya at Christianity Today International. She takes her writing responsibilities pretty seriously.

    I can also affirm, with you, the distraction of the distaff. I actually prefer to sit up near the front of the sanctuary so I’m not distracted by attractive ladies who are dressed somewhere north of sensuously and far south of modestly. I think the problem with that is probably shared:

    a) It’s my problem to discipline my eyes. As Billy Graham is reputed to have said, it’s not the first look that is a sin. It’s the second look. (And the one after that, and after that, and so on.) I doubt this need for discipline will go away in the next 17 years (when I turn 55.)

    b) It’s the lady’s problem in that she needs to learn the effect of her clothing choices and, if she is aware, should repent of her need to dress in sucha way. I think some ladies are ignorant of the effect. Other ladies, perhaps not. But since I cannot tell which is which by observation, it’s best to assume innocence. So…

    c) It’s the parents’ problem in that they need to train their daughters to dress without tempting lust. Unfortunately, for women who are above the age of 18 and no longer live at home, then it becomes…

    d) The pastoral staff’s problem to teach biblically appropriate models for modesty.

    Note, the problem is first mine, and that’s the only one I need to concern myself with. I would be lying if I said I was never tempted to have that second look. And I would be lying if I said I never did.

    That’s why I like to sit close to the pastor when he preaches. (Well, one reason anyhow. I also just like to be able to see facial expressions. But that’s beside the point.)

    Bruce, I’ll send you LaTonya’s email address offline so you can contact her directly if you wish.

    BTW: I visited your weblog just now and I was redirected to a handbag store.


  12. Bob Myers

    The gentleman, and that is what he is, who complained would be welcome at my church. I’m very impressed with his graciousness, kindly speech, bringing it directly to the pastor, overflowing with affirmation response. Gee, pastors are thin-skinned if this offends anyone. I say, “Pastors, get off your high horse, and listen to critics like this. Turn your critics into your coaches and never, never, never, mock them!”

  13. Rich Post author

    Bob, as I’ve stated in my comments above, I view this as satire more than mocking. But, then, I suppose mockery is one of those things that is as much about interpretation as it is intent.

    I have no problems with the “concerned pastor’s” complaint. But, without having seen the butt-shaking worshipper, I also have little problem with bodily movement during worship. Generally speaking, anyhow.

    So while I wouldn’t dismiss the criticism out of hand, the dance-remix puts the criticism in a different light for me: this is very possibly a picture of tension between generations and cultures more than tension between godliness and sinfulness. The dance-remix, for me, makes that clear, and allows me to view the whole episode with a touch of grace and humor.

    I, for one, don’t feel the re-mix is mockery. Others here, however, disagree.

    Fortunately, you have both recordings available to decide for yourself. And, for what it’s worth, this means the “concerned pastor’s” concerns have been honored with a wider impact and audience than he could have ever imagined. Perhaps the sovereign Lord had a hand in that?



  14. david law

    But what happens when you put someone with a little rhythm, a little soul, a little energy, up on the platform to help lead worship?

Leave a Reply

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.
%d bloggers like this: