My friend Meredith wrote a blog about a lesson she heard from Randy Harris recently. So ok, now I think I’ve covered all the sourcing and I can’t be accused of plagiarism. :) The talk was about the different methods in which people approach worship. As is true with pretty much everything, a lot of people are different from each other in this respect, which leads to division and deeming some methods more “right” or “higher” than others, but the truth is that we must appreciate and respect diversity within the body of Christ.

1) Intellectuals – These are the people who worship God primarily with their minds. They enjoy analyzing the subtleties of Scripture and are usually very familiar with the current canon of Christian literature as well. They feel closest to God during deep, profound conversations or debates. Harris joked that these are the people who “don’t want to hear relevant topics addressed at church–they’d just like a real Bible study for once.” The biggest danger for an intellectual is that, given the firm grasp of theological concepts that the intellectual usually has, he is prone to wonder why everyone else isn’t as “sound” in their doctrine as he is. If they’re not careful, intellectuals also tend to be very critical/cynical because they have analyzed every problem there is for everything.

2) Servants – These people worship God primarily by noticing and meeting needs. Servants tend to be very perceptive to how they can help others and are very compassion-motivated. They also tend to be very busy, because there is no shortage of needs out there. Harris jokes that these are the people who are always running around and trying to start up new causes and campaigns at church. Since many of the church’s ministries are service-oriented, these people tend to be ministry leaders. The biggest danger to being a servant is the temptation to give into the Elijah complex (which is the “I and I alone am the only one out doing good for you in the world, Lord” syndrome.) They are also often overworked and taken for granted in the church.

3) Relationship-Builders – These people connect best with God by connecting with other people. Relationship-builders usually feel closest to God in a small-group context because that setting allows them to do what that they do best, which is to yack. Relationship-builders are, of course, most skilled at making others feel welcome and pulling people into the group. Relationship-builders are easy to identify because they are the ones who find it quite impossible to walk across the church lobby without carrying on a 45-minute conversation. Many relationship-builders face the challenge of not being good listeners because, as Harris says “they have not been quiet for 5 consecutive minutes in their entire life for fear their head might explode.”

4) Contemplatives – These people feel closest to God when they are by themselves, usually in a quiet, meditative setting. The contemplatives lead the church in discipline: they have regular personal prayer time, regularly diagnose their own spiritual health in journals and writing, and thrive in the stillness and quiet. In essence, they are the prayer warriors of the church. They are likely to talk about the ways God has spoken to their heart personally, because they have long practiced the discipline of meditation. They are also the ones who are most likely to talk about how loud and obnoxious church services have gotten these days. The biggest danger they face, of course, is becoming so inwardly-focused that they forget about that whole ‘salt and light’ thing.

5) Emotives – These are the people who primarily worship God with their emotions. This happens in two main ways: when they feel joy, they worship with their shouts, claps, and dancing; when they are broken, they worship with their tears. They are likely to talk about God “stirring in their hearts.” They are more open to the idea of the Spirit working in their lives without having a rational explanation for it. Music is a particularly important element in the worship of the emotives because of the way music speaks to the emotions. Harris joked that, historically, the Church of Christ has done a very good job of scaring off the emotives and being scared of the emotives. The biggest danger the emotives face is assuming that the people who don’t jump up and down like like they do must not love Jesus very much.

The important thing to remember is that all of these worship styles are equally scriptural and in fact, are all equally important. A person who is earnestly seeking God will probably find himself connecting to God in all of the above ways at one point or another. If you’re having a hard time deciding which category best fits you, maybe you’re just a holistic worshipper! Randy encouraged us to identify the 1 or 2 worship styles that come to us most naturally and to focus on developing/cultivating the ones that don’t come to us naturally.

Since I’m pretty sure most of my audience is consisted of my loved ones, I’d like to hear which styles you identify with. So comment, people! I mean, please feel free to leave your thoughts. :) I’ll even start!

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