Shouting back at the pastor
The church I attend is very hip. The pastors have tattoos. Our worship leaders could be considered metrosexual. We are opposed to the idea of “religion,” and we even have a hip name: Celebration. (There a growing number of churches in town with hip names: The Rock, The Well, The Bridge, Life Bridge, The Word, but that’s another post.)
One thing that sets us apart from the overly-religious people we like to talk smack about is our affinity for shouting back at the pastor.
Now, it might very well be only a charismatic church thing but shouting back at the pastor requires more than just being moved by what he or she is saying. It also takes skill, timing, and style.
If you feel like you’re ready to take that step, here is an easy how-to guide to doing so.
#1: Am I ready to shout back at the pastor? The answer to this depends on three things:
Where do you sit in the sanctuary? People who sit in the back typically do not shout back at the pastor; they tend to be arm-raisers, hand-wavers, and clappers. Whereas people who sit in the first few rows are seemingly required to shout back.
How long you’ve been attending this church? First-time visitors generally keep quiet as well. I would suggest a good four weeks of regular attendance before any shouting. Work your way up. Start with head-nodding, then arm-raising, then soft replies, and eventually you’ll be ready for full-on shouting.
How cool are the people around you with shouting? Really, this doesn’t matter, because if you’re led to shout, then shout away you radical Christian! Don’t let others dictate your response to the Word. I only added it because I needed a third criterion. Lists with two items are dumb.
Once you’ve found your spot for optimal shouting and have been at your church for a sufficient amount of time, you’re ready to move on to shouting back.
#2: What exactly should I say? In my experience, here is a list of words/phrases that are acceptable as a “shout-back:”
- That’s right!
- Yes, sir!
- That’s good!
- Praise Jesus!
Conversely, there are also some things that probably wouldn’t go over so well:
- Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?
- I disagree!
- Your hermeneutic is flawed!
- That’s what she said!
- I don’t get it!
I suppose so long as you weren’t the only one shouting at a particular time, you may be able to get away with one of these, but I wouldn’t take a chance.
#3: When do I shout? I suggest a general rule of thumb would be if the pastor shouts, you can shout. If something really moves you or hits home, then I think a quick “Amen,” or “That’s right!” would be ok.
I think it would be beneficial to figure out when it would not be ideal to shout back:
During the altar call: Imagine the pastor has just finished a great message and wants to give those who are there a chance to give or rededicate their lives to Jesus.
Pastor: “And now, I want to ask everyone hear to bow their heads and close their eyes.”
You: “YES SIR!”
“If you’ve been living in sin, we want you to know there’s another way. There’s a God who loves you… ”
“A God who sent His son to die for you…”
You: [Jumping to your feet] That’s good! Awesome! Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?!
Another good rule of thumb is if the pastor starts using his/her quiet voice (I’m sure you know your pastor’s quiet voice), it’s probably not a good time.
Ok, I think we’ve figured out the how, when, and what of shouting back. Let’s assume you’re ready to try it. Your first few attempts go fine. I think we’re ready to move to the next level.
#4: Flare. It’s not enough to simply shout back from your chair (Yes, chair. Our church is so hip, we don’t even have pews.)
There are several things you can do to jazz up your shouting:
- Stand up.
- Stand up and throw one arm in the air.
- Stand up and throw both arms in the air.
- Hold your Bible in the air (only real Bibles, no phones or iPads).
- Jump up and down a little.
And, there are things that will not jazz up your shouting:
- Throwing things at the pastor.
- Chanting, “U-S-A! U-S-A!”
For most charismatic pastors, it’s actually beneficial for the audience to shout back. It helps them know when they have made a point, and that the audience “gets it.” It also energizes them if an audience “pulls on the gift” as I’ve heard it said—kind of like musicians.
But, Ernie, I’m an introvert and can’t picture myself doing this.
Well, so am I, and I may not be the flashiest shouter, but I still make it work.
In the end, it all comes down to whether or not you hear something that moves you. And, considering everything God has done for me, I can’t help but shout. (Did that feel a little Jesus Jukey? I didn’t mean it to, but it’s true!)
Now you know how to shout too.
Have you ever heard anyone shout back at the pastor at church?
(For more great writing from Ernie, check out his blog.)