Applause in church

Recently our congregation has begun to applaud the singing groups in our church. Some of those who do not clap are offended. If we discouraged the clapping, we would offend those who do clap. What advice can you give about how to deal not only with the clapping but how to deal with those who are offended by it?

You are asking about something that God has neither commanded nor forbidden. When it comes to a subject like that and the exercise of our Christian freedom, Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8 and 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 provide good food for thought and action. I would encourage you and others in your congregation to see what applications you might find for your situation from those sections of Scripture.

As you study Scripture, you and others in your congregation might want to consider questions such as these: What is the intended purpose of applause in a worship service? How might some wrongly interpret the applause? How do the singing groups in your church understand the applause that is given? Is applause given selectively or consistently for people’s participation in worship services? (Applause for singing but not preaching?) What is the purpose of applause in secular settings in our society? How does applause given in performance settings relate to applause in worship settings? Does applause fit with Christ-centered worship or detract from it? How can 1 Corinthians 10:31 (“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”) apply to your situation?

Undoubtedly, there are many more questions that can be considered, but these can get you started. I pray that your congregation can work through this issue in Christian love and selflessness.