There are some topics that require more than just a remix. Like prayer for instance, I could write a dozen posts on that because it’s so interesting. Or metrosexual worship leaders, I feel like that idea just keeps giving and giving to us.
So when my wife leaned over to me at church and said, “People sure do have different styles when it comes to singing with their hands raised,” I knew I had to cover the topic at least one more time. I had to, like Jane Goodall in the jungle, step inside the world of hand raising and report what I found. I did and here, after deep scientific study in the field of sarcasmology, are the 10 styles of hand raising I encountered, starting with the least extreme to the most extreme:
1. The Ninja
You are tricky sir, truly, you are tricky. This guy is testing the waters. He sees ladies near him that throw their arms in the air at the first hint of a Chris Tomlin song but he’s not so sure. I mean, what if his friends see him? He used to make fun of people that did that. So instead of going all out, he does a fancy little move. He puts his hands by his pants pockets and just flips them over with his palms facing the heavens. From behind, you can’t see that he is doing anything out of the ordinary and from the front it just looks like he is cupping his hands slightly as if to show you what was in his pockets.
2. The Half & Half
This person often wants to sing with both hands raised, but they go to a conservative church and don’t want to be known as “that guy.” So instead of singing with both hands up, they hold one in the air and put one in their pocket or on the chair in front of them. It’s like half their body is saying, “YAY JESUS!!!!” and the other half is saying, “Nothing to see here folks, move it along please, move it along.”
3. The Single Hand Salute
This is the cousin of the half & half but is different in it’s level of intensity. Instead of just kind of floating in the air, the hand you have up goes out straight at an angle, as if you are saluting some visiting military dignitary. It’s possible this move was first instilled in people when they were young with the song, “God’s Army.”
4. The Elevator
This one technically marks our transition into multi-hand motions. In this move, you act like there is a rule against having both hands raised at the same exact time. So you start rotating your arms. As soon as one arm comes down, the other arm goes up. It’s kind of an awkward dance move, but works pretty well when set to “Blessed be the Name.”
5. The Pound Cake
This is what we in the industry, of hand raising in case you were wondering, refer to as an “underhand move.” Instead of sticking your arms out, you hold them with your palms facing the sky as if you are ready to receive something from someone in front of you. In the pound cake, your elbows should be at stomach level, with your hands tilted at a 47 degree angle as if someone visiting your house warming party is about to hand you a delicious pound cake. It’s not a heavy cake, so you don’t have to brace yourself, but can instead just relax and think, “hey cool, pound cake. Let me take that for you.”
6. The Tickler
It’s getting serious now. The tickler is the person that sticks their arms out horizontally as if they were trying to make a big T with their body. This is a fine move except that because we’re all sitting so close, they inevitably bump into you with their hands. So while you try to sing along with the chorus, you can’t help but giggle as they, lost in a moment of blissful worship, accidentally tickle you.
7. The Double High Five
I am very stingy with my high fives. I think the last time I gave one was in the delivery room of my second daughter. The next time I give one will be if I get a book deal. Other than those two situations, I find the high five to be the physical version of using a lot of exclamation marks!!! That’s why I rarely do this move. The double high five looks exactly like it sounds. You act like you’ve just scored a goal in soccer/football and are about to double high five the person in front of you. (Some people call this move the “Secret passageway” because it kind of looks like you are feeling along a wall for a hidden button that will open a secret door. But I’m a purist and don’t use that term.)
8. The Huge Watermelon
This is like the pound cake on steroids. In this move, your arms are held higher and with a considerable about of dedication and determination. It’s still an underhand move, but now, instead of a light and fluffy cake, someone on a truck is handing down a huge watermelon to you. Better get ready, that thing looks heavy.
9. The Helicopter Rail
At this point, both arms are raised high in the air. This is professional hand raiser territory we’re in. Please don’t try to do this at home. With this one, you reach your arms out, way over your head but out in front of your body. Imagine if you were stuck on a piece of driftwood and a shark with a laser on its head was about to get you and you had to desperately reach out for the rail of a helicopter that was attempting to rescue you. Stretch, stretch, you gotta want it.
10. The YMCA
This is my favorite and probably most common hand raising technique. It’s not complicated. Much like the famous song, you simply raise your hands above your body and form a big Y. That’s all, but it leaves little doubt to the folks around you what is going on. You’re worshipping. It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s messy and it’s great.
Although I tend to be a pound cake kind of guy, I like when people raise their hands. This is the second time I have written about it. My friend said that when her mom did it, it always looked like she was clearing a runway for God to land. I think that’s pretty cool and hope to one day work my way up to at least mastering the huge watermelon.