Do Hand Motions Hurt Jesus?

Courtesy of dkueck/Creative Commons License

When you go to a little league baseball game chances are you’ll hear some chants such as:
“We want a pitcher not a belly itcher!”
“Swing batter, batter, batter, swing, batter, miss!”
Now imagine if that happened at a professional baseball game.  Imagine Derek Jeter or Albert Puljos standing at the top of the dugout screaming at a teammate:
“Hay, hay what do ya say? hit the ball the other way”
Would that be weird?  As fans it’s a part of our nature to embark in ritualistic chant, wear crazy outfits and even reenact great plays.  But, is that weird?
In church world we can embark in similar behavior, especially at youth ministry events.  There have been times when I’ve taken groups to camps and conferences where “Jesus chants” are proclaimed, people know the hand motions to every song (even if there isn’t supposed to be hand motions) and the WWJD flair is in abundance.  Some adults and teens soak it up and jump in, while others see it as a hinderance to their faith.  It’s a YOUTH GROUPIE behavior and for some it’s worship while others see it as teenage behavior.  But, is it good for youth ministry to engage in such behavior?  Does all the Christian flair, Jesus chants and hand motions for heaven:

Help Or Hurt Youth Ministry?

Arguments can be given for both sides.  There are some of you who absolutely love it and promote it within your groups and, others who will avoid it at all costs.  So, how does it help and how does it hurt?

HOW IT HELPS:

  • Creates Enthusiasm – Sometimes you need to break the ice and tension of your group.  One of the best ways to do this quickly is by doing something goofy.  When we can laugh at ourselves we knock down the pride that masks who we are supposed to be.
  • Makes The Intangible Tangible – We teach little kids hand motions to help them with nursery rhymes.  We create acronyms and rhymes to remember lessons and rules.  When you have hand motions, cheers or chants you create something tangible to nail down a concept or story that isn’t.

HOW IT HURTS:

  • Comes Off Cliquish – Ever walked into a party where you didn’t know a soul?  It’s intimidating.  When we walk into settings where it seems like everyone except for you knows the inside lingo it can be a little of a turnoff.  It can seem like a secret society where if you don’t know what they are talking about then you aren’t worthy to step inside.
  • Focus Is Lost – The purpose of handmotions, chants and ministry gear is to worship God and spread His love; however, sometimes the focus is more on the cleverness and not it’s effectiveness.  If your ministry is all about matching t-shirts and clever chants you have to wonder if the focus is truly on Christ.  While there are constructive forms of prayer that are powerful, you want to teach your teens how to be spontaneous too.

You might might feel strongly one way or another and I would encourage you to share that here.  Does your group embrace the “WOOT WOOT” during certain songs?  Do you rock the “kNOw Jesus kNOw Peace” t-shirt?  Can you handmotion a song quicker than Chuck Norris can take down an entire army?

How do you feel when it comes to hand motions, Christian gear and Jesus chants?

What do you think of “YOUTH GROUPIE” behavior?