I don’t sing at church with my hands raised.
Mostly because I have really muscular arms, and it’s distracting to other people at church. Blocks the view and whatnot. It’s worship time, not gun show time. And I’m considerate that way.
But also because it’s just not how I’m wired for worship. I’ve done it from time to time and think it can be a really beautiful outpouring during a church service. I have nothing against singing with your hands raised and actually wrote a guide to the 10 different styles. But what if it’s not your thing? What if one Sunday morning you find your seat in a sea of arm raisers, a veritable forest of outstretched limbs? What if you’re the only person who is not singing with their hands raised?
Because let’s be clear about one thing, you can’t cross your arms in that moment. Any communication 101 course you take will tell you that crossing your arms tells people, “I’m not listening or engaged in what’s going on right now. I’m resistant.” Is that what you’re trying to tell sweet baby Jesus? You’re resistant to worship? Of course not!
So, here’s 3 things you can do when arms go up and yours stay down:
1. The James Dean
I probably need to update this reference and call it the “Ryan Gosling” or something, but I’m just not ready. Regardless, the James Dean is a pretty simple move. When you stand up to worship, put your hands in your front pockets. That’s it. Slide them in and now you don’t have your limbs all akimbo like Elaine dancing on that episode of Seinfeld. You look a little moody and introspective like, “Hey, my hands are in my pockets ’cause I’m thinking like James Dean or Ryan Gosling about the meaning of life.” Or it looks like you have tender hands that are cold in the service and need the warmth of a dungaree cave. Either way, problem solved. (Don’t overdo it though or this move mutates into the “Fonzi.”)
2. The Waiter
If you ever come to Cross Point and sit behind me and my tree trunk arms, this is probably the move you’ll see me doing. Like a waiter standing at attention at a nice restaurant, I simply place the wrist of my right arm into the hand of my left arm behind my back. This move says, “I’m open to worship, I’m receptive, and I’d appreciate you not calling the free bread at Outback ‘chocolate bread.’ It’s actually called ‘Honey Wheat Bushman Bread.'”
3. The Foundation of Faith
Not enjoying the James Dean or the Waiter approach? Fair enough. Here’s one more thing you can do. Build a foundation of faith by putting your hands on the pew or chair directly in front of you. This move says, “I’m using my arms to brace myself in case the worship music gets so overwhelming that I feel a little faint come on me. I don’t want someone to feel the need to put a modesty cloth over me if I collapse in the row, so I’ve built a foundation of faith to prop myself up.”
Those are the techniques I’ve developed over the years, but I’m sure you have your own.
If all of those don’t work, there’s a good chance you’ll break into some hand dancing. That’s when you find yourself tapping your legs or the chair in front of you in a completely off-rhythm way. This is the worship equivalent of air guitar and, though, I often succumb to it, I do not endorse it.
Do you sing with your hands raised?