“Clap Your Hands -- Stomp Your Feet”

The late and beloved Grover Stevens once wrote an article in a now defunct gospel journal and expressed his opposition to hand clapping in worship. His opposition to this growing practice of clapping hands in worship is based on his attitude toward the silence of the Bible. He wrote, “I read in the New Testament that when brother leads us in prayer that it is appropriate to say ‘amen’ (1 Corinthians 14:16), but I have never read where anyone did or was encouraged to clap their hands.” As a matter of fact, I cannot remember where such a passage is either.

It seems that this practice is growing. When a preacher preaches one of his best, the audience gives him a solid round of applause. When an announcement is made of some great success or achievement, give another round of applause. One wonders where such a thing would end. A person who obeys the gospel would deserve a hand. Maybe a very liberal and cheerful giver should also get one. When the song leader really does a bang-up good job, he should be acclaimed with a lively round of hand clapping. Applause should go to elders to rule well, to parents to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, to those who actually get out and do personal work among the lost, and on and on.

But should the clapping be the only way to praise someone? How about foot stomping? We might even organize a cheering section in the auditorium, with cheer leaders who can flip, jump, and cavort to get the audience whipped up into a genuine cheering mood. The ushers might even pass out whistles, or air operated horns. We might even hear the now popular “hoo, hoo, hoo’s:” But, seriously, let’s hope not.

Grover Stevens was one hundred percent right. He said that if we do things “decently and in order,” and with the intent of edifying each other, we need to keep the right decorum. It is proper in secular and worldly affairs to applaud, cheer, and shout but in worship that is devoted to God it just does not fit. A silent prayer or even a vocal “Amen” may be in order, but clapping your hands and stomping your feet do not fall into the category of doing all things “decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40).

I agree with Grover. — DRS -- Back to Bulletin Fodder