Q. We have a new pastor and he has been very persistent about how the congregation praises the Lord. He wants everyone to raise their hands, shout and move about. Many in the congregation, including me, don’t always feel comfortable doing this. From time to time, I have raised my hands to the Lord but I don’t do it all the time. I was raised singing the old hymns and they speak to my heart and soul but the new pastor is insisting on singing the newer contemporary songs. The newer songs seem very repetitive to me and they go on and on without seeming to have an ending. What I need to know is…does the Lord expect everyone to raise their hands and shout to show praise to Him? Is He disappointed when I don’t do this? This really bothers me and I don’t want the Lord to be unhappy with the way I praise Him.
A. Had the Lord desired a particular style of worship, He would have specified it in the Bible. What matters to Him is that we worship with an undivided heart.
I do agree with you that the traditional hymns have more theological depth than many contemporary songs, and are often preferred by mature Christians. When I faced this situation as a volunteer pastor I found that a mix of traditional with contemporary music seemed to suit everyone better. In the process, many of our younger believers grew to like the old hymns, while more mature believers soon became comfortable with contemporary music.
As for raising hands and moving around, I always left this up the Holy Spirit to move people as He saw fit. I think forcing people to do things they’re not comfortable with is contrary to the objectives of worship.