Clapping in church: right or wrong, why and when?

There is much controversy surrounding clapping in our church services. While some seem to allow clapping as a part of music, worship, and applause, others limit clapping to keeping in time to music. There are, perhaps, those who oppose clapping of any type in church-regardless of the occasion. Who's right? Who's wrong? More importantly, what does the Bible, God's Word, say about the matter? A study of God's Word gives us the Truth. My Bible concordance lists the words clap, clapped, or clappeth a total of nine times. All nine verses appear in the Old Testament; none in the New Testament (Covenant), under which Christians are to live. Of the nine only one, Psalm 47:1, even mentions God; the context is people shouting to Him with a (unified) voice of triumph. Neither music nor worship are mentioned. So why, then, do people clap in church? What is the purpose?

Clapping in time to uplifting, upbeat music is certainly appropriate. God created us with a desire to respond to good, wholesome music. Clapping along with the music (some do better than others!) is an outward expression of inward convictions-to a point. Taken to the extreme, clapping could then occur during quiet times of worship, every offering-even the announcements. As in all we do, Biblical purposes should underline our actions.

Generally speaking, clapping is nether praise nor worship; it's applause. Other than clapping in time to some (but not all) music, clapping is an expression of appreciation, as in applauding a special song, instrumental or vocal. The world does that quite often. With God, however, the Spirit of God, Who is the Author of the Bible, gives us clear instructions on how to express our love, gratitude, and thanksgiving to God.

I Timothy 2:8 tells us to lift up holy hands-not applause-to God. Again, there's not one single scripture in the New Testament telling us to clap our hands to worship God. Applause expresses appreciation for a performance well done. God is not in the performance business. Our services are not for God to perform for us; rather they should be a time of getting into His Presence to worship Him, magnify Him, lift up the Name of Jesus, reverence the Spirit of God, and attend to God's Word. They should also be times of responding to whatever the Spirit of God chooses (and is allowed) to do in our midst.

The lifting of hands is an act of surrender. Worshiping God with upraised hands is our act of surrender to God-His plans, His ways. This surrender is a part of true worship.

May these words help to bring you higher and deeper in your walk with our Father God.

More on this next tomorrow.