Today’s post is written by Chris Logan, Worship Pastor at Community Covenant Church in Lenexa, KS.
Did you know that your posture changes the way you think?
It’s true that your body shows the rest of us what’s really going through your head at any given moment, but the reverse is true as well: the way that you carry your body will change the way you think, the way you feel. A quick example: on a day you’re not feeling so great, take a pencil and hold it in your mouth, forcing the corners upwards in an approximation of a smile. See how long it takes before you start feeling better.
The simple fact is that we behave because of what we believe, but we also believe because of how we behave. The two are a cycle, influencing one another in our lives, egging the other onward. This is the reason why actors often become uncomfortably close to a character they work on particularly closely; Heath Ledger became chronically depressed after he spent so much time on his character the Joker, and the world is now lesser because his exceptional talent is gone, lost to a drug reaction.
We think and feel how we behave. We behave how we think and feel.
Think about this the next time you’re in church. I was leading one of our services a few weeks ago and, as I sang “Jesus Paid it All,” I couldn’t help but notice several people standing with scowls on their faces and their arms crossed. I didn’t know any of these people and so I can’t speak to their hearts, but I really wanted them to grab a pencil. Such a posture speaks very loudly, to me as a worship leader, to those around them, and to their inner dialogue – their posture tells THEM something too. What I saw were people not engaged, people unhappy with something, people closed off to the movement of the Spirit in their lives. But In the same service, with the same song, I saw people smiling, their hands open and heads bowed; engaged, singing, worshipping, people who were also speaking to themselves, and people around them, and to me on stage.
In our contemporary service.
In our traditional service.
In every church I’ve ever been in, both kinds of people are there.
Side by side.
What all of this tells me is that we can, if we want, intentionally change things. If we are closed off to God, perhaps changing our physical posture towards Him will help us change our mental and emotional postures. I have to wonder if the difference between those two groups of people was their posture, if making an intentional change could have helped them engage with God and those around them. They could have worshipped if they had purposefully changed the way they stood, held their hands, arms, and heads. It’s a question of attitude; why am I here at church?
It’s about choice.
I find that on those very rough days when I travel all the way to church tired, worn-out, discouraged, it simply takes picking up my guitar and playing to remind me who I am, why I’m here, and put me back into my place. Not in a bad way, in a good way. They say that to confess is to agree with God about who we are; as I play, yes, I agree with God that I am a sinner, but THEN, then I agree with God that I am His child. Forgiven. Given grace.
The next time you’re in church – traditional, contemporary, emerging, wherever – try changing your body language; open your hands instead of holding the pew or chair in front of you, or maybe raise them over your head. Sing. Move. Dance. Worship.