Worship Together posted a Facebook article about clapping during worship. Here is an excerpt:
“Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy”. Psalm 47:1.
With as much clapping as we do in church now days you would think that clapping in worship was mandated by the Lord. Not so. In fact, there are only 2 references in the NASB for clapping during worship celebration and one of them involves rivers and not people! Psalm 47:1 (shown above) and Psalm 98:8 that says “Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy.”
Compare this to over 70 references for singing just in the Psalms and we begin to see how little clapping has to do with our biblical worship.
We should, however, pay attention to Psalm 47:1. Especially since it was written specifically for the music director. The Message paraphrase says “Applause, everyone. Bravo, bravissimo! Shout God-songs at the top of your lungs!”
But I believe worship leaders today (me included) over-emphasize clapping for several reasons:
- Clapping creates a nice segue at the end of a song. No worship leader wants awkward “dead space” after a song while switching song keys or putting on a guitar capo. So we encourage clapping as a segue instead of a true expression of worship.
- Clapping gives a false sense of the Holy Spirit moving in a worship gathering. Often, worship leaders misinterpret lively clapping as evidence of the Holy Spirit. This is not true and can be a stumbling block when the congregation does not clap along.
- Clever clapping entertains the congregation. Some songs incorporate a clever clap pattern that’s fun. Anyone remember “We wanna see (clap, clap, clap), we wanna see (clap, clap, clap) we wanna see Jesus lifted high”? Everyone is so focused on clapping on time that the words and meaning of the song go unnoticed.
The best kind of clapping is the natural applause that occurs when the congregation is overwhelmed by God’s grace and wants to show thankfulness.
This is an interesting article. What does YOUR church do? My church will clap after a non-congregational song most every time and also when guest artists sing in concert at HBC. We don’t clap during congregational songs, well,… ever?!
I really “applaud” (pun intended) the worship together writers for their three bullet points. Clapping fills “Dead” space, gives a false sense of the Holy Spirit moving, and sometimes takes the focus off of the lyrics. Sometimes, you “plan” too much in worship. An energetic songs does not mandate clapping while singing. If some clap, then let it be. Don’t draw attention to it if you are unsure about clapping. Let the Holy Spirit work in them and lead them to clapping instead of forcing something they are not led to do. You can clap as a worship leader without asking the congregation to. There is no right or wrong, except when we lead without the Holy Spirit leading us, first.