One time, a friend of mine who is a member of a Seventh Day Adventist church, told me that God at one time worked through the Baptist Christians, but now it seems that the Baptists do not want to continue on. God seems to be working less through Baptists and more through the Adventist Christians. At first this seemed absurd to me but then I began to think about it and I think he may be right. I have noticed that Baptists are very reserved when it comes to praise and worship to the Lord. For example, I have never seen Baptists, at least in the village churches, worship with passion and joy. I would like to sing with hands raised high, or pray out loud, to praise the Lord passionately but I cannot because that is not allowed. I say this with great regret but there is a great sense of melancholy in the Baptist churches. I have to agree with the joke that says that there were two boys trying to look through the window of a Baptist church during a service. The boy holding the other one up on his shoulders to be able to see, asks the one on top, “what do you see? What’s happening?”. His response was, “I do not know what is going one but by the looks on the people’s faces I do not think that they are very excited about what is happening”. How can you help me with this situation? Thank you.
There is a lot of truth in this situation but I would add that not only in the Baptist churches, but also among the other denominations as well. We cannot make a judgment just based on the denominations. I believe the problem is much deeper than that. In most of the villages churches there are no youth, just the senior citizens because the youth have left. Plus, a lot of the senior citizens who are in these churches lived through the communist persecution of the church when they were not allowed to worship freely the way that we can today. Many of their songs and worship reflect the sadness which they experienced because of persecution.
Another reason for the presence of melancholic worship in these churches is the fact that there is a lack of sound doctrine being taught from the Word of God. King David composed many songs during his lifetime, some of them during the most difficult times he faced. He wrote holy songs and used them to worship the Lord. Look at what he says about the source of joy:
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. (Psalm 119)
He continues with this:
162 I rejoice at Your word, As one who finds great spoil. (Psalm 119)
Great joy goes together with preaching the Gospel, especially when you are able to see people saved by faith in Jesus Christ. This joy surpasses any kind of sadness, even if that sadness comes from persecution. When the apostles were brought before the Council, after they had been beaten with whips, they were told not to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ anymore and here is there response . . .
41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. (Acts 5)
They continued to preach the Gospel everywhere.
One of the key words in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians is “joy”. Read what he writes:
12 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will ; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel ; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. 18 What then ? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed ; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, (Philippians 1)
In churches where the members are dedicated to the study of God’s Word, as well as dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel, they are the ones who have great joy in every circumstance, no matter how much suffering they have had to endure for serving in the Gospel. This joy is reflected in their worship.
On the other hand, I have seen some people who come to “worship” the Lord and put on a happy face so that all will see their great joy, even if they do not have that joy inside of them. They just make worship an experience, being all about the front that you put up and the show that you put on. This is also something that is not true worship.
If you attend a service at one of the village churches, it is a good idea to worship the Lord from the bottom of your heart. Be an encouragement for all who are there. If you would like to lift your hands when singing then do so. If you would like to pray out loud, then do so. Do not be ashamed to worship the Lord freely.
There is one more reason why there is a melancholic feel to worship in many village churches. Many times within the church there are people who want to show that they are very “religious” and they use legalism as their platform. They want to force others to practice the same kind of righteousness that they do, that type of worship being do with a sad, melancholic face. Arguing with people like this over worship style is not a good idea.
What do the readers think of this subject? What is your opinion?
Translation by: Erik Brewer