Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Worship and Reverse Culture Shock

Confessions of a Recovering Anglo Worshipper

And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns.
-2nd Samuel 6:14-15

There’s an interesting phenomenon that can happen when you return to your country/culture of origin. It’s called “reverse culture shock”—feeling surprised or out of place in your own culture.

It has happened to me here in an unexpected place—church. I’ll give you some background that will help explain.

Filipinos have taught me a great deal about the joy of worship. They sing and praise God in a way that is visceral, passionate, uninhibited, and emotionally charged. Raising our hands, clapping, and dancing are quite common when we have church in Manila. We have a certain freedom of expression—we wear our hearts on our sleeves, so to speak.

Some of you may think that I’ve been sneaking off to a charismatic/Pentecostal church while in Manila. I haven’t—this before-mentioned worship style happens at many Baptist churches (I’ve experienced this at more than one congregation).

Apparently my Filipino brothers and sisters have influenced me even more than I imagined. Clapping and swaying in worship just come naturally to me now. I fit right in when I do this in the Philippines, but it is different here in the States. On more than one occasion I have looked around at my fellow Anglo worshippers to find that I’m the only one moving. Sometimes I think a church full of mannequins would show more expression that we whiteys do. This is not just an age or worship style issue—I have noticed this in some very young and contemporary worship settings.

Before any of my fellow Caucasians get upset with me, I want you to know that I used to be just as stiff in worship. I first learned to let go and be a little more expressive in my mid-twenties. Worshipping with Filipinos took me a step further, and I never intend to go back to my former mannequin ways. I’m beginning to learn how to drop my pride and just celebrate God’s presence. If I can learn this, anyone can.

Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! . . .
-2nd Samuel 6:22
(David’s response to his wife’s criticism of his “undignified” behavior)


  1. This is what I love about FBCW. We do alomost all of those things, too. (No one has broken out in full dance. We do sway at times, and I’ve even seen people feel so moved by a solo or choir special that they stand.) It feels strange when you come home or go to another church that does not do it. Pastor Johnny has often referred to us as the “happy clappies.”


  2. charismatic swaying and singing is the best thing i like about church! too bad we dont have that in our parish… but its really what i like best!

  3. Right on, bro!!
    Next time maybe you can “HATAW NA!” during praise & worship…but this is only on your private time. And besides, “grooving” during praise not only fires up the spirit, it also gives you a youthful glow…or as we Pinoys put it, nakakabata!
    Keep on!!


  4. hi kuya! i used to be a mannequin in church too.. but i learned and have experienced the joy just being in God’s presence and so now i worship without being self-conscious. i’m worshipping for the audience of only one.. God.

    genesis =)

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