So this morning during church I'm playing keyboard in worship band and we're up there doing the song "Come, Now Is the Time To Worship", which has the line "Come just as you are to worship". I had made the crack to someone earlier that morning that one of these days I would actually show up for worship "just as I am"....like unshowered, unshaven, in my boxers and undershirt or something. I was contemplating just how much we try and put our best selves forward for church....not so much for God, but for other people.
In worship band we have a rotating cast of drummers, one of whom is Pete. Pete's young daughter can often be seen in the front of the pews getting her groove on during worship. She's Linnea's age and one of my fondest church memories is playing piano during a youth sunday a few years back and watching the 2 of them having a great time dancing. This morning Pete was drumming and his daughter and her friend were up there having a ball, until an usher came over and shut them down. They weren't in anyone's way. They weren't out of control. Their mother's were right near by. It was a sad thing to see happen, particularly while we're in the middle of singing "Come just as you are to worship".
Working with youth I try very hard not to make church a place where you have to act a certain way, dress a certain way, believe a certain way. One phrase I have sworn will never come out of my mouth is "you can't do that (say that, etc..) at church". That prhase fosters the notion that you behave one way at church, and a different way in the rest of your life. It's not just that I want kids to take their church behavior into the rest of their life, but I want them to be themselves at church. I might tell them to do this or that in the spirit of being respectful to others (things I would tell them to do in any similar secular setting), but never just because it's church and we have to do things a certain way. Our church has come a long way in that we now have drums and can play music that it's even possible to dance to, and some people feel comfortable raising their hands. But why not a little dancing? I hate for our kids to come away feeling that church is just a place where you have to dress nice, follow rules, and listen to some boring sermons, and I would hate for these young girls, or anyone, to have their desire to dance crushed in the name of religious piety.