I rarely clap in church--not because I think it's wrong but because I don't know how to do it. The rhythm is never the problem (for me--I'd say the rhythm is the problem for many, many would-be clappers); rather, I never know when to stop clapping. I'm constantly watching the others around me to see when they start and stop. Should I clap for the whole song or just the first verse? When the worship leader tells me to clap, I usually do (because I'm a lemming?) . . . but how long do I need to keep clapping after he stops--because worship leaders usually stop clapping shortly after they get the audience started!
We had a worship band from Grace University in chapel today. And inevitably, a song came along where they wanted us to clap. Not wanting to stand out (I was on the bottom row of the bleachers), I began clapping. I soon stopped. Then I started watching the people around me and noticed that many of them seemed quite tentative about clapping, too. Imagine my delight when, while getting my daily blog fix at lunch, I saw the title of today's post on Stuff Christians Like: Clapping our hands (a step-by-step guide to the death of rhythm)!
You have to read this post! It's genius! Here's an excerpt to get you hooked--then go read the rest of it!
I always cringe a little when a worship leader says, "Everybody clap together" at the beginning of a song.OK. Now that you've had a taste, go here to read the rest.
Instead of marching forward in a united rhythm, what usually happens in church sounds like someone lit off a box of hand firecrackers. Smacks and slaps and claps just ringing out randomly with no sense of where the song is headed. So this morning, after witnessing several claps die merciless deaths yesterday at church, I thought I would analysis how the clap goes so wrong so quickly. Here is what I think happens, laid out in a convenient step by step approach:
1. We get the "call to arms."
This is when the worship leader tells everyone in the crowd to start clapping. Often, he or she, will raise their hands above their head to give you a visual of how the whole thing is supposed to go down. It's an exciting moment, the world is so fresh and new. We're all a little intoxicated on the sense of potential and possibility. So together, we start clapping.
2. We realize that there's no leader.
Eventually, the worship leader stops clapping above their head. Either they start playing an instrument or just grab their microphone in kind of a dramatic, Creed-like moment. Suddenly, we in the crowd realize no one is leading this clap-a-thon. We scan the stage for direction but no one bails us out. The main singer is focused on the song and the back up singers are doing some sort of rhythmic clapping that is beyond us. It's like the PhD program of clapping. At least 15% of people quit clapping right here.