Contemporary Worship Gestures

Topics: Dance, Gesture, Nonverbal communication Pages: 5 (1776 words) Published: June 28, 2011
Running head: Contemporary Worship Gestures

Contemporary Worship Gestures

Contemporary Worship Gestures
Every Sunday in churches across the globe, Christian believers come together to worship. These people come from all walks of life and various denominational backgrounds to experience and glorify God together. Just as verbal cues are important, non-verbal gestures are also important and play a large part in these church services. ET Hall (2010) stated that “those of us who keep our eyes open can read volumes into what we see going on around us” (as cited in Knapp, M. and J. A. Hall, 2010, p. 3). However, one might question whether gestures (particularly in the contemporary environment) have actual meaning as opposed to the solemn gestures associated with the traditional forms of worship. Therefore, this paper will discuss several non-verbal worship styles and the meaning of these in the contemporary worship environment. Population: Contemporary Worship Gestures

I chose to focus my research on contemporary gestures in worship, because often these gestures are misunderstood. The gestures associated with this type of worship have been around for centuries, but still many see gestures such as lifting of hands, dancing, or clapping to be signs of disrespect to God. The bible says in the Old Testament book of Lamentations 3:41 (English Standard Version) that we are to “lift up our hearts and hands to heaven”, and in the book of Psalms 47:1 The bible says “clap your hands, all you people; shout to God with the voice of triumph”. I believe that gestures performed in these services create a language of their own, and by researching differences in meanings of these gestures, there can be a more complete understanding of these communications.

Thus, I find this topic will be of interest especially to those who have had no prior knowledge and or experience in contemporary worship styles. It is also important to note that there is no one wrong or right way to worship. The bible simply says "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deut. 6:5) Whatever way an individual chooses to worship God is personal and does not have to reflect any one particular style.

Contemporary Worship Gestures
Hands in Worship- Where the traditional style of worship generally follows a solemn style of reverence by standing and reciting prayers or holding of hymnals while singing, a large portion of the contemporary approach involves the using of hands as a non-verbal expression of worship. Author Keith Drury states, “Hand-raising is a cultural expression—a means of non-verbal communication that carries meaning. What we do with our hands are often non-verbal words. Gestures with the fingers, hand or hands do mean things. Like words, they are used as expressions in worship.” Drury outlines five postures for the hands in worship today and how North American people tend to see their meaning.

RECEIVE The posture of receiving is two handed, hands raised, palms facing up. The modern worshipper says with this posture, “God, respond to me, touch me, give to me, speak to me, fill me.” It is an expression that symbolizes openness for receiving from God a touch, a work of grace, or a gift. Receiving hands were periodically used in camp meeting revivalism, especially

during the third part of worship, called the “altar service.” The worshippers or persons kneeling at the altar might be encouraged by the leaders to raise both hands to receive from God. STAND-IN-AWE The stand in awe gesture is two hands raised above the shoulders with palms facing up. The praise and worship movement has popularized stand-in-awe music and this posture has become an expression of engaged praise to God. It is a symbol of bowing to God in reverence and acknowledging his majesty and kingship in the life of the worshipper. SURRENDER This gesture is two hands raised in the universal...
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