By Leonard Sweet
After many years of witnessing the variety of ways the Spirit works in multiple tribes, I’ve come to some tentative conclusions.
Although I’m a long way from knowing people from the inside all the 22,000 Christian denominations in the world today (some say it’s more like 30,000+), I’ve spoken and developed friendships in enough of them to make some observations.
Here’s what different tribes do when the Spirit moves them in worship.
If you’re Lutheran, you don’t show anything, but you move your toes in rhythm with the music lest anyone find out that you really do have a beat.
If you’re Reformed Church in America or Christian Reformed Church, you can do anything you want to with your hands with one unbreakable rule: No hands above the waist.
If you’re Roman Catholic, you make the sign of the cross.
If you’re Episcopalian, you thrust your hands nervously in your pockets and dig, scratch, or scrape.
If you’re nondenominational, you clap.
If you’re Wesleyan or Evangelical Free, you cry.
If you’re Nazarene, you laugh.
If you’re Seventh-day Adventist, you sway slightly with eyes shut.
If you’re United Methodist, you extend your hands, palms upward, but arms are never raised above the belly-button.
If you’re United Church of Christ, you stand erect with arms crossed and face scowled.
If you’re Presbyterian, you place one hand under the chin, a la Rodin’s The Thinker.
If you’re Unitarian Universalist, you go on and pretend nothing has happened.
If you’re Southern Baptist, you hold hands with people across the aisle.
If you’re American Baptist, you tap your feet.
If you’re United Church of Canada, you clasp your hands behind the back.
If you’re Salvation Army, you lift your hearts to God and your hands to whoever’s around you.
If you’re Quaker, you get real quiet.
If you’re Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), you raise one hand to the heavens as if you’re hailing a bus or waving a hankie.
If you’re Pentecostal, you lift both hands high above the head and make the wave. (By the way, do you know how they vote at Pentecostal conventions? They put their hands down.)
If you’re postmodern, you’ve done all of the above at one time or another.
Leonard Sweet is the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, and keynote contributor to www.preachingplus.com.
2ProphetU is an online magazine/website, started by Warren Wiersbe and Michael Catt, to build up the church, seek revival, and encourage pastors.