5 Ways to Worship in the Wild

One of the unavoidable realities of corporate worship in this world is distraction. Our minds are already prone to wander completely apart from anything happening around us in that room.

But anyone who’s been in church for more than a few minutes knows there are always more things going on than we can ignore. Unruly children, unresolved conflict, uninhibited personalities, untalented singers, unsilenced technology and an unending list of other disturbances.

If you’re like me, those moments can be a real challenge. After all, I’ve come here to meet God, to hear from him and offer my worship to him. The movement, tensions and noises are keeping me from him, right? They’re stealing my attention in some of the most precious minutes of the week.

Distractions in church can quickly give rise to impatience, irritation, exasperation and even anger.

Five ways to worship in the wild

But I wonder if we’ve missed the point of the wildness in corporate worship. Yes, God mainly wants to speak to us through his word, but what if he has other things to say in less grammatical, less authoritative ways? What if God wants these unwanted distractions to show us more of himself and more about what it means to love his children than we could see alone at home with our Bibles?

Here are five ways God might just bless and inspire your worship in the wild, where you’re really not sure what might happen next.

1. Screaming babies or unruly infants

Any church with young families knows well the cries of new life. The little ones that are so adorable and beautiful before and after a service can temporarily become annoying or inconvenient when they speak up during the announcements or a sermon.

But this is new life. If we realize what’s happening—a new human being added to our church family, a future man or woman, potentially a husband and father or a wife and mother—we would have every reason to be blown away by our creating God, rejoice in the gift of this baby girl or boy, and bear patiently with this screaming image-in-process.

2. Bad singing

Some of you are this person, and you know it. Some of you are married to this person. Some of you sit a couple pews away from this person week after week. You’ve thought about a move, but that’s too big of a statement in a small church. Some people simply can’t sing very well. Despite the beautifully good heart, the ensuing sound would make more sense in the local zoo than the church’s choir.

We’ve all been commanded to sing (Psalm 47:6-7), but we’ve not been equally gifted for it. The miracle, though, is that any of us, who were once dead in our sin, would sing to our God at all. Each of us was made to image and worship God, but we all turned away from him, offended him and earned his wrath. But God overwhelmed our rebellion to win our worship through Jesus.

Our hearts will always and only find their greatest satisfaction in God. That’s what worship is. Our hymns and songs give voice to that happiness. God is not listening for pitch but for heart in worship. Anyone singing to any tune, in any octave, with whatever rhythm to God is a stunning, miraculous, wonderful thing. We should be developing an attitude that rejoices in all the voices that are lifted to make much of him.

3. People with disabilities

This may not be a typical Sunday experience for you, but lots of families in our churches are living with the realities of mental or physical disabilities. For sure, disabilities are not always a distraction in worship. Most of the time, they are not.

In some cases, though, a person may shout or groan or act in ways they can’t control, and it will cause a scene.