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Worship Service Blues

How to worship at a church that doesn't fit your worship preferences

Brenda* loved her church in Phoenix with its high-energy, contemporary worship services. Electric guitars and the beat of the drums lifted her spirits and made her want to sing at the top of her lungs. She loved the dynamic, relevant preaching that had a lot of life application. She liked the large size of the church because it offered so many programs for a single woman like her.

But a few years ago, Brenda took a job running a bed-and-breakfast retreat center in the mountains. She moved there without knowing a soul and threw herself into this ministry. It was a great career move but a tough church move. Her only options were small, country churches where traditional hymns were sung with tinny piano accompaniment, and the pastors were either inexperienced or close to retirement. There were almost no other singles except for the elderly widowed.

Bob and Charlene* have just the opposite problem. They loved the ancient hymns and dignified preaching that had characterized their church for most of the 50 years they'd attended there. But the pastor who came to the church a few years ago changed everything. He introduced a worship band that led the congregation in songs that Bob and Charlene were completely unfamiliar with and was of the type of music they never would listen to under any other circumstances. He also has a fiery and, what felt like to Bob and Charlene, irreverent style of preaching. They don't want to leave the church because of their long history with it. Besides, their friends are there. They aren't complaining to the leadership, because they understand why the church chose to make these changes. But they find it difficult to worship on Sunday morning.

What are Brenda, Bob, and Charlene to do? The churches they attend are not going to change—at least not in the immediate future. And they either don't have an alternative or are too attached to their church to consider leaving it. How can they learn to worship wholeheartedly when their worship preferences are shattered?

Much has been written about the fact that worship services are for God, not for us. And that is certainly true. Yet, we're bound by our likes and dislikes. Sometimes even our moods affect us. You may love to sing, but if you're feeling tired or at all depressed, singing may seem almost beyond you.

Even if we love our church's worship services, there are those Sundays when we just didn't like the music or the pastor's sermon hit us wrong. So how can we recover and worship God in spite of our disappointment? Consider these ideas to do quietly and unobtrusively, so that you don't disrupt other people's worship.

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JoHannah Reardon
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