When You Should Be Quiet in Church

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I wept as this well-meaning lady walked away

[/blockquote]”You need to be quiet during prayer,” chided the women’s ministry leader seated next to me. As I swallowed hard and met her eyes with a look of surprise, she continued, “…because people end up hearing you instead of [the pastor].” We proceeded to chat back and forth for another few minutes, her about being quiet in church, me about the unlikelihood of stifling the praise God’s worthy of because professed Christians are uncomfortable, her genuinely amazed at the concept of being so filled on the inside that it overflows to the outside, me genuinely frustrated at the concept of being told to be quiet in church.

 

Despite having a pretty loud voice when kicking back with friends, I used to be a rather quiet churchgoer, never really understanding why others would shout aloud and certainly never shouting aloud myself. However, my elevated “outside voice,” masked my internal voice and the internal joy that was silenced for over a decade of my life by sexual abuse. Over a decade more was spent in silent shame about some of the worst experiences and worst decisions of my life. More than 20 years…gone…stolen by silence.

 

Silent in public worship.

Silent in private.

Silently hating God.

Silently broken.

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God speaks into our silence and sets us free to worship Him

[/blockquote]I silently bumped around through life, silently bumping in and out of church each week, silently coming in broken, silently leaving bound. But one sweet day, in the midst of my silence, the God of the universe spoke loudly and unbound me from the shame that once prevented me from praising Him. The God I had once only heard of, once only read of, and once only seen others worship freely allowed me to see Him for myself and filled my mouth with worship.

 

I wept as this well-meaning lady walked away from me in church. I just tend to believe that church should be safe enough for us to exchange our silenced sorrows for shouts of joy as we worship our Deliverer. I initially figured she’d better understand if she only knew the hell from which I’ve been redeemed. Maybe then she’d join the next person she saw worshiping instead of quieting the praise God is oh so worthy of. But then I wiped my tears, remembering we all have been ransomed; we all have a story of redemption. And more important than her knowing others’ stories is her knowing her own and that we all have a similar story – that the wages of sin is death, yet we’re alive, and for that, we ought to join each other in blessing our faithful God. The important part of each of our stories revolves around the story of a God who speaks into our silence and sets us free to worship Him (Psalm 119:134; Luke 1:74; Isaiah 43:21). We need no other reason to worship a God who was worthy before speaking a single word.

 

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when God stuns me into silence

[/blockquote]So, what should you do when others are very visibly or audibly expressing their praise to God? Well, if you’re not joining in, if you’re not echoing that He is holy (Isaiah 6:3), maybe that is when you should be quiet in church. If you’re not giving glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and lives forever, that is when you should be quiet in church (Revelation 4:8). If you’re only opening your mouth to dictate how others should worship God, that is when you should be quiet in church. As for me, I’m committed to blessing the Lord at all times – when He stuns me into silence and when His praises pour forth from my lips (Psalm 34:1).
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Resources:

Kimberly Bulgin’s FREE ebook: Wild Worship

Bob Kauflin’s Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God

Myles Munroe’s Rediscovering Kingdom Worship

Marnie C. Ferree’s No Stones: Women Redeemed from Sexual Shame

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