I don't know if you've ever been to a dance club before, but for me the idea of unselfconsciously dancing without restraint is very appealing. This idea of spontaneity and conviction is expressed in the popular dance track ' Dynamite' by Taio Cruz.
I throw my hands up in the air sometimes
Gotta let go!
I wanna celebrate and live my life
'Cause I, I, I Believe it
And I, I, I
I just want it all, I just want it all
I'm gonna put my hands in the air
Hands in the air
Put your hands in the air
Now, here's a questionnaire: what word first comes to mind if I say 'spontaneous'? I doubt 'church' would be high on the list. It seems that in the 'conservative evangelical' circles in Australia and France have found this aspect of worshipping God quite hard in singing.
I need to clarify this by saying I've seen churches which are deliberately making people feel comfortable with being more expressive and spontaneous in singing. However, whether it's the occassional hand raise, body sway, clapping, percussion playing or even flag-waving, it seems there's still a corporate reluctance for more individual expression. Of course, it's hard to generalise and indeed there are many cases where I've seen others just 'go for it', freestyle!
I'd like to argue that singing as a church could be more like 'Dynamite' where we put our 'hands in the air' cause we 'believe it'. Because, after all, singing as a church is a celebration,a party. But how much more reason have we got to celebrate than partying teens! We've got Jesus! We're in God's family! Something I've started doing in my more conservative context is to initiate a change in singing culture--how? By actually being spontaneous myself!
I hope to start exploring in future blogs the questions of 'what is worship?' and 'What could church singing be like if it is without fear and without unhelpful cultural limitations?'.