Excuse me, but WHY are we clapping?

I’d led praise and worship for churches for years, sang “special music” as they call it and then work transferred us out of state, moving to an area of the country that didn’t need my many talents as there were plenty of people equally endowed with musical ability.  (Of course I say this in jest.)  So I have merely been a part of the congregation and/or singing up front with the praise leaders…

OK so we again get transferred and once again, prepare to move.  In the midst of all this I get to visit different churches in the Houston area to which we’re moving.  The last church visit we did really opened my eyes about something the church has gotten into the habit of doing and I truly believe it does not please the Lord.

The music was led by your standard praise and worship team.  Everyone dressed nicely, standing up front, words on the screens above the platform etc.  -you know, same old same old.  The only difference in the music was that there were no musical instruments accompanying them.  I admit, it sounded lovely.  But after the last song ended, absolutley no one in that entire congregation began clapping.  My fleshly man wanted to really give it a good round of applause (!) but not one soul in there did a thing.  They just remained standing, some heads bowed, but just stood — silently.

The hair stood up on the back of my neck!  I felt the Lord’s presence as never before.  And no, we’re not talking about “feelings” here.  We’re talking about the Lord’s presence.

It suddenly hit me: People in churches are not clapping in thanksgiving to the Lord when they do.  They/WE are actually telling the ‘performers up front’ thank you for entertaining me!   Immediately I knew the Lord was showing me that real worship requires no outward signs of approval from men.  And just for the record, yes, there were musical instruments used later on.  But still no applause.  It wasn’t a Broadway show, it was a service of Worship to our God and King.

Yesterday, I had a dear friend send me something that had been written about the same identical thing.  I hope this blesses you as it did me.  Thank you to author, Paul Proctor.


Would somebody please tell me why we applaud singers at church? We don’t applaud people when they pray.

We don’t applaud the preacher when he preaches or the teacher when he teaches or the
ushers when they pass around the plate. Does anyone applaud the greeters or the
nursery workers for their performance each week? How about the folks that mow
the grass on Saturday or clean the restrooms on Monday; does anybody clap for
them? I’ll bet your church secretary has never received a round of applause –
unless she’s in the choir, of course.

No, the reality is, we applaud
singers almost exclusively. Why? Because that’s what our entertainment-oriented
world has taught us to do. Like many other things these days; as the world does,
so does the church. We instinctively applaud people that amuse us in some way or
another in a live group setting. Sometimes we applaud for no other reason than,
everyone else is applauding and we don’t want to appear different and look as if
we disapprove or weren’t paying attention. It is a carnal response we offer and
a clear reward intended for those who move us emotionally with a song, pure and
simple – something for the eyes to see and the ears to hear, requiring, by the
way, absolutely no faith in Christ.

I am reminded of the three
instances in scripture where Jesus spoke disparagingly of “hypocrites” who
performed for the eyes of others through their giving, their praying and their
fasting in Matthew 6:2, Matthew 6:5 and Matthew 6:16 – ending all three with the
same solemn pronouncement, “They have their reward.”

“I beseech you therefore,
brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” – Romans 12:1

If carrying out the Lord’s will
each day, including Sunday, is merely our “reasonable service”, why then should
any of His redeemed be applauded for it – especially in a worship service where
all glory, honor and praise belong to God?

If the songs we applaud during
worship are not entertainment and we’re not really rewarding singers for
services rendered, why then do we only applaud performers after they finish a
song? If it isn’t their performance we’re applauding, why don’t we applaud when
we see them before church in the foyer, in the hallway or on their way to the
microphone? Why don’t we applaud them for just being a member of the choir or
for simply showing up on Sunday?

Do we applaud singers at church
because they had to prepare diligently beforehand? Well, didn’t the preacher and
the teacher both put in at least as much time in their preparation of a sermon
and lesson as that singer did for his or her song? What about the poor ushers?
Where’s their reward? They have to go up and down the aisles for money like
beggars! I’m sure they could use some applause.

I know what some of you are
thinking: “We’re applauding the Lord, not the singers!” Oh, is that right? Well,
if it’s the Lord you’re applauding; why don’t you applaud Him when the preacher
brings a stirring message directly from the Word of God and tells you that the
sins of all those who have repented and put their faith in Christ are forgiven –
that they have been forever set free from an eternity in Hell? If there was ever
a time to applaud God, wouldn’t that be it – or are you waiting for a song?

Why don’t we applaud the Lord
when the teacher shows us in the scriptures where Jesus died on the cross for
our sins and rose again on the third day or when Saul becomes Paul after the
Lord strikes him blind on the road to Damascus and he stops persecuting the
church to follow Christ and spread the good news that Jesus lives?

Why don’t we applaud the Lord
when we sit down over a hot meal at dinnertime? Did you applaud the Lord when He
gave you your first child or when you got a raise at work? How about that new
house or car? Did you applaud the Lord for either of those? Fact is – you didn’t
even applaud the salesman for giving you a good deal, now did you? How about
when you didn’t get the flu this year or that lab work that came back negative?
Was there any clapping around the house over that? Why don’t we applaud the Lord
when we get up in the morning – if for no other reason, just because He gave us
another day?

Maybe if He sang to us we would.

Why don’t we applaud hymns like
we do praise songs and all those sensually gratifying contemporary Christian
tunes we throw our money at in the record stores? Maybe those hymns are a little
more honest about our condition than praise tunes are – maybe a little too

Maybe we applaud praise choruses
because so many of us are still in bondage to our sin and those little
simplistic chants we can’t seem to live without help put a smile on our face and
anesthetize the pain of our own stubborn disobedience and rebellion toward God –
soothing and distracting our unrepentant hearts by allowing us two or three
glorious minutes of relief to forget our troubles with a mesmerizing melody so
we can pretend there really isn’t anything wrong with our spiritual lives – you
know, kind of like when we go to a concert or a show or just turn the radio up
real loud in the car on the way to the mall to drown out that “still small
voice” so we’ll momentarily feel better about ourselves. Would it be accurate to
say they might just be an escape for many of us?

Oh we LOVE those praise choruses,
don’t we? It’s like we can’t worship without them. Aren’t praise songs
essentially musical prayers? Didn’t Jesus specifically command us in Matthew 6:7
to not use “vain repetitions” when we pray? And isn’t that precisely what many
praise choruses are; vain repetitions?

“But when ye pray, use not vain
repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for
their much speaking.” – Matthew 6:7

One dear lady, whom I think the
world of, wrote me the other day about her fondness for choruses, noting, that
in singing them, “you really don’t have to think real hard…”

I couldn’t agree more.

So, not only do we offer “vain
repetitions” to God in worship these days, we applaud and exalt those that excel
in it. Shall we gather to praise, honor and glorify men or worship the Lord?
Just who is it we’re really applauding at church? I certainly can’t answer that
question for you but I do know that God sees the heart.

Could it be, in casually
celebrating His marvelous love for us with “vain repetitions” and resounding
applause, we’ve forgotten all about His holiness and jealousy in order to unduly
reward ourselves in His presence?

Exodus 20:5, Exodus 34:14,
Deuteronomy 4:24, Deuteronomy 5:9, Deuteronomy 6:15, Deuteronomy 32:16,
Deuteronomy 32:21, Joshua 24:19, Ezekiel 39:25, Nahum 1:2, 2 Corinthians

By Paul Proctor

February 17,  2004


A New Song  Part 3
A New Song
  Part 2
A New Song
  Part 1



Published by: annunk

I have seen too many believers in Christ falling into the trap of practicing "Christianized New Age" and still calling it holy. Contemplative prayer is nothing more ( or less) than TM. Totally unscriptural. I encourage anyone who's interested in knowing the truth of God's word to dig in daily and SEARCH - be like the Bereans - FIND OUT if the teachings, messages, books you've read or radio speakers you've heard are dissecting God's word correctly. If they're not, throw out what you've heard. Trash it. God demands we STUDY to show ourselves approved. BE a Berean. Acts 17: 10-11

Categories IHOPTags, , 19 Comments

19 thoughts on “Excuse me, but WHY are we clapping?”

  1. What do you think about the hymn singing in the Old Testament and how that is different than the singing of today? Can we really judge a man’s intent? But I totally get what you are saying and I am glad that you were forthright enough to post this. I have often wondered myself why we dont just silently reflect rather than applaud. This thought has kept me from applauding at all these days. Good insight and things to ponder. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Church isn’t supposed to be for entertainment, and you don’t grow when you’re entertained either.

  3. Great post! One of my pet peeves has always been the clapping for “special music”. I have never, ever clapped, and never will. Clapping does indeed say you are praising the performers. We should be, instead, listening to the message in the songs, and reflect on that message after the song.

  4. This sounds like the exact same logic used by people who proudly don’t tip the waiter or pizza guy. Why should they be rewarded for just doing their job? They then turn around and argue that they should NOT be rewarded for doing their job.

    What is NOT here is a Biblical reason why giving people credit for their service is a bad thing.

  5. Doing their job…. hummmmm… OK let’s look at it another way: What about spontaneous expressions of joy and approval over something of current interest that might be announced to the congregation? “Announcements” themselves are in a category apart from the distinctive functions of the services of worship. Examples of this would include:

    A. Announcing the occasion of a decision to be baptized, especially when this involves an unusual event such as when a when it involves a person of unusual concern who has delayed obedience for a long while.
    B. Announcing the appointment of elders, deacons, ministers, missionaries, etc.
    C. Announcing the resignation of an elder or others who have served the congregation faithfully for many years.
    D. Announcing appreciation for distinctive services involving the congregation.
    E. Announcing arrival of a newborn baby, or the recovery from a dreaded disease.

    This aspect of public assembly would be an appropriate time and occasion for members to show respect by applauding if they wished to do so, rendering “honor to whom honor is due” (Romans 13:7), and should be carried out without offense to any. It is not an act or part of rendering public praise and worship to God.

    But to clap as to “thank” a choir, singer or whomer for “entertaining”us? No way. THAT is not of God. NO WAY.

  6. To compare it to tipping the pizza guy is a little far off I might say. The two are in now way related. The worship leaders I know are not at all doing their job for praise or a pat on the back- they are doing it for the glory of God. If there is any other intent in mind, I agree… its not worship and its not from God. But I think its okay to encourage people in their talents- thank them personally for sharing their gifts to serve God. But the God factor cannot be missing. When the focus is off, we are looking at man’s talents and not worship.

  7. Becky, you had a good thought saying your worship leaders aren’t doing it for praise or a pat on the back. Real good thought.

    I am a praise leader at my church, which is not a little church at all. I do lead praise to the glory of God, but I honestly can say that I struggle with genuine disappointment when I don’t get a hearty round of applause following the upbeat music. Same goes for “special” music which ALWAYS gets some type of applause whether it’s big or small. Special music? Most times, it feels like entertainment. And with the praise, you want to end the praise time with somewhat of a “hush” – you know, when people are really being ministered to by the Lord. But near the beginning, when music is ah, really going… we really DO want to hear that applause.

    You’re right, praise leaders do start out doing it “as unto the Lord”, but it’s fairly impossible to keep that old flesh man from rising up and taking the bows.

    So I’ll tell, there’s a lot of truth to this article which I’ll be sharing with the pastors at my church.

  8. 072591,
    RE: What is NOT here is a Biblical reason why giving people credit for their service is a bad thing;

    Good thought. So how many times in scripture are we told to give God the glory? (Not us, but God.)
    So I think He’d have put it somewhere IF He wanted US to get credit..

    On a different note, this reminded me of a time long, long time ago when I was in one of my very first churches. The song leader had led us in a really anointed praise and worship time. Right after that, the pastor got up and had the congretation “clap unto the Lord”. We began clapping, eyes closed and clapping more. It continued for quite a while – probably 5 of 10 minutes. I kid you not, people were in TEARS, on their knees, crying out, weeping before it was all over. Now THAT was truly a praise “offering”.

  9. I think instead of clapping, congregations should just give an “amen”. The clapping almost takes away from the ministry of the song itself in solos/special music.
    Just a thought.

  10. Chelsey, I was recently in a church where yes, there was singing, but instead of applause following each and every song, there was a quiet “anticipation” so to speak – as though people were allowing the Lord to minister to each and every person’s heart — individually. I must say, I was more than just a little astonished. I suddenly realized tears were flowing down my cheeks as that silence progressed. Then the next song would begin. Did I recognize the words or the tunes? No. But I listened to the words being sung and it was as though God Himself was confirming everything He had just ministered to my heart. It was unbelievably moving to me.

    And Chelsey, you’re right. I heard some people gently whisper, “Amen”. …as if to say, “Yes, Lord. We stand in agreement with what was just offered up to You.”

  11. We need to make sure that the Scriptures dictate what we consider right or wrong, not an emotional experience. I read every verse in the references given in the article and none speak to clapping in worship. The verses speak to idol worship. I do not see how someone can be prove that clapping in response to a message (whether in song or spoken word) is idolatry. In Psalm 47, we are commanded to clap; it does not say “except in response”. I have not found a verse where the Scriptures forbid applauding. Over and over again we are told of instances where the noise of rejoicing in Israel could be heard a long way off. If it is okay to shout in agreement, say “Amen” in agreement, make a huge ruckous in praise, why would clapping in agreement be wrong? A good Bible study is to through the Bible and mark every instance where our hands (and bodies) are to be involved in worship – where we are commanded or given examples of physical (outward) expressions of worship.

    I’ve been emotionally moved in services with no clapping. I’ve been emotionally moved in services with clapping. Again, however, my emotions cannot dictate what is right and wrong; our only guide is the Scriptures. If it is not forbidden in Scriptures, who are we to forbid it? When we are commanded to clap, commanded to encourage one another, given examples of God’s people rejoicing at the ministry of priests and singers, how can you say that clapping is idolatry? Could someone argue that the love of the absence of clapping is idol worship if they had an emotional experience by clapping? By setting the Scriptures aside, what makes one emotional argument more valid than the other?

    In our church, we do clap for singing – even the singers clap because the point is agreement with the message. We clap when the pastor finishes preaching unless he calls us to be quiet and reflective. We clap when someone shares an answer to prayer. We are not shy about lifting up a rounding applause of praise to the awesome God we love and serve. We are appreciate the gifts that He gave to individuals and believe it is beautiful and right when those individuals use their God-given gifts to edify His church. So we clap and shout “Amen – let it be so”!

  12. I agree with your thoughts! My qualm is on that clapping at service has become something “expected” rather than spontaneous worship about 99% of the time.

  13. My pastor is against clapping and for saying amen. He preached a whole sermon on it saying that Cain used his hands to grow the produce, therefore clapping is rejected by God. Wasn’t Cain’s offering rejected because there was no blood sacrifice?
    A new family didn’t know the rules and clapped . The pastor sort of stopped the service and told the congregation we don’t do that here .The family hasn’t been back. Stumbling block? The preacher permits selective clapping. It is not permitted for songs unless it is for small kids then its alright, or for the men on fathers day or for the one who gets the faithfulness award -then it is alright.
    Gal. 5 speaks of being back under the law vs grace.

  14. I’m sorry your pastor made a public issue out of visitors clapping. Stumbling block? Yes – absolutely – since those visitors have now determined they’re not welcome there. I’m quite sure they’ll share that experience with others they converse with along the way…

    Cain did use his hands to grow the produce JUST AS Able used his hands to tend the herd! When it came time for both brothers to offer their sacrifices to God, Able, unlike his brother, offered a blood sacrifice — so you’re quite right. IT WAS THE BLOOD THAT COUNTED.

    Cain chose not to obtain a blood sacrifice but instead just gave what he basically had on hand. (I used to think it was unfair of God to put one brother over the crops and the other brother over the herd and still expect them to both offer blood sacrifices — but then was reminded of the widow who gave 2 mites or “all that she had”, and was suddenly reminded that God looks at the HEART of the giver!). Able, unlike his brother, Cain, was giving out of a heart of love and gratitude to The Lord. Cain, like many today, was just “dropping something into the plate”…

    How funny it is that your pastor “allows”applause for some things and yet not for others… What was his rationale for not permitting “Amen”” to be voiced? Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)
    May Yahweh, the God of Israel, be praised from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, “Amen!” Hallelujah!

  15. There is no restriction on amen, just clapping. The only rationale given is that NO clapping is permitted. Then sometimes he ignores that and tells you that even though we don’t clap, we can clap for this particular thing. Clapping honoring or dishonoring God is his decision. You feel so stupid looking and waiting to see whether he wants you to clap or not. By the way the verse you used would be rejected because it didn’t come from a Scoffield KJV bible. Galatians 5:1-14 explains what is going on ,verse 7 speaks of “being hindered”, verse 8 “this persuasion” refers to pressure tactics used to persuade the church to embrace legalism.

  16. The thought comes to mind…a little leaven leavens the whole lump..

    I think your pastor has the right idea in mind but is pushing the legality line.. Keep him and your church in prayer.

  17. You said you and your husband were praying about finding a church “that kept all of God’s commandments”. I hope you’ll continue to pray and allow Him to continue leading you to a church of His choice – because I don’t think you’ve found that particular church yet..*
    I’ve been in church for probably more years than you’ve been alive and I’ve yet to find one that keeps ALL God’s commandments! Kat, you’re talking LAWS if you’re talking about keeping commandments.

    On that note, if Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets, then didn’t Matt 5:17 say that ONLY THEN would they be abolished before heaven and earth pass away? Now IF the law and the prophets are STILL in force, doesn’t that PROVE Jesus did NOT fulfill the law completely? (And I truly hope you’re shaking your head saying, “Wait a minute! Jesus DID fulfill the law!”)

    Re: The person, in the church you visited, bringing up clapping: If a church truly believed that playing by ITS rules, such as “clapping in church” was necessary to gain entrance into Heaven, then just like above, The Cross was not enough. As you said, “SATAN wants us to believe we have to worship a certain way and DO things “just so” (whether it be to clap or not to clap or even how to clap) in order to get to heaven.” <– That thought right there would get me to keep on searching for the church of His Choice — not mine.

    *The whole focus of this article, Kat, was to draw attention to the fact that WAY too much of "the fleshy man" has taken a popular role in church. When the flesh gets in the way, The Cross gets tossed to the side and sadly, ends up taking a back seat to whatever feels the best.

  18. If people are going to church and praising god and in communion with god and each other how does expressing thanks and joy for the praise given to god by singing, clapping is giving thanks for gifts of sound that brings us closer to god and each other. If we are,to be humble servants then no gold goblets, no parades up and down the aisles for gods servant dressed in gaudy gowns to separate god’s servant from those that are there to learn how to be humble. No one looks humble in vestments, they draw attention to one self especially standing above those they serve . Most of the posts say some clapping may be okay, when we applaud a new priest or baby,or married couple.This judgement of what is pious and what is good for the sense of community of sharing and love should not be at odds with each other. Clapping, singing, praying, kneeling, holding hands at the our father, giving a sign of peace to one another shows the horizontal part of christ’s cross, community, the priest dressed in robes and marching down the aisle flanked by other servants show the vertical part of the cross worship to Christ.
    You are not to judge!!

  19. There’s many parts of the body of Christ. None greater than another but of course the head. To him we give honor though we may worship him differently. It must however, come from the heart for anything less that that is from the flesh and worthless.

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