Filling All The Spaces With Noise

Hold, hold your tongue now. And let them all listen to your silence. —The Ting Tings, Silence

We are addicted to filling all the spaces with noise.

And when I say “we,” I mean us Charismatic Christians. That includes Pentecostals (who are the worst about this).

Please don’t think I’m writing this to throw someone else under the bus. If anything, I’m throwing myself under the bus. I am both a Charismatic and a Pentecostal (although I prefer the Charismatic label, and would like to add a couple descriptors like “gangsta” and “who loves Catholics”). I am constantly working to fill all the spaces with noise – background music, words, videos, more words, and more music.

In a conversation with Andy Jones about Sunday’s service at NWLife, he said,

“This could be taken the wrong way, but my favorite part of the baby dedication was when you guys were all done saying stuff and just stood there for a while holding and looking at Zoey.”

Funny how his favorite part was the one without any noise.

Maybe we need less cacophony and more opportunities to, as Depeche Mode put it, Enjoy The Silence.

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The problem, for us Charismatics and especially us Pentecostals, is that any break in the noise is an invitation for someone with the “gift of tongues” to fill it. And, to be honest, we feel more comfortable with our noise than theirs – so we fill all the spaces.

I think we need some holy breaks though. Holy breaks, where we can enjoy the silence. Or listen when nothing is being said. Or actually think for a moment.

Jason Watson, on his DeviantMonk blog site, has written a sharp, funny, and painfully honest critique of our type of church. The post is titled, Why I Hate Your Church (NOTE: I would especially recommend reading this entire post if you are a pastor or worship leader). Here is a brief quote:

“From the moment I enter the worship space (as we are fond of calling them, perhaps guilty from the secularizing of the project as a whole), I am greeted only with noise. The greeters shake my hand and welcome me in, thrusting stacks of information into my hands. If it’s the first time around it is utterly overwhelming, for the sheer amount of information makes me feel like there is something I should know but don’t. The more rational of us probably treat it like junk mail, only hazarding a glimpse if it looks interesting enough.

All around me I hear the whine of music through the sound system; either the banality of Christian pop music or- if the church deems itself edgy enough- the equally obnoxious droning of its secular counterparts. The experience becomes like walking through Wal-Mart and wishing they would turn it down. Everywhere I go I have to bear these sorts of musical invasions- is there no escape, even in the ostensibly sacred spaces?”

blah blah blah blah blah

So, I’m going to work on this. Hopefully there will be some longer pauses and holy breaks from all the noise.



I am a husband, father, pastor, leader & reader. I love God, love people & love life.

11 Comments to Filling All The Spaces With Noise

  1. Alan Ambrose

    Is it wrong to comment on silence? Hope I’m not just adding to the noise. I totally agree with you Brian. The church we serve with in Austria has worked very hard to plan times of silence and reflections when we give God space in our services and even before and after the service to allow people to actually hear one another. I might need this more in my non-church service life as well. Just turn off all the noise and enjoy the silence.

  2. Some of my most meaningful times with God have been at home or in nature, but also in a church environment where we were invited to go be alone and quiet and to hear what God might be saying to us. (It probably was framed as “talk to God”- but I think the listening is so important.) Thank you Brian- looking forward to more of this.

  3. Amber Richards

    Some of my most impacting, God moments are in silent spaces. When David was alone, God forged him into a greater man… Time and time again, in the silence, or in times of reflection the miraculous happened. I love this post because it reminds me that I don’t always need a “filler.” God is in every pause of our life and every moment in between. Thank you for the reminder!

  4. Such an interesting post. It is part of our walk, I posit, to balance the wisdom of scripture, which exorts us to both “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” and to “be still and know that I am God.” (Sorry about the King James – that’s what I learned first and it has stuck fast in the little grey cells). Having come to know Jesus in a Pentecostal movement, I have made my share of joyful noise. You are right, Brian, that Pentecostals really have taken that scripture to heart!! I’ve also had beautiful times in church where a lovely silence falls and people dwell softly in the presence of Him. And I’ve seen those times complemented or ruined by a “gifts of the Spirit” message fueled by anointing or eagerness.

    Given that we live in a big city where there’s always background noise, it is easy to become less attached to quiet. Some of us need more quiet time for reflection than others – I know chatters that are hardly ever quiet and taciturn types that hardly ever chat. I enjoy them all! Some of my family live on an island north of here and when I visit with them, I marvel at the silence. Very little traffic. You can hear the deer crashing around in the underbrush and hummingbirds duking it out for the primo spot on the feeder on the deck. It restores me.

    It seems though that we are called to find that right amount of quiet, just to hear our own thoughts without support from technology, and also to find that holy time when we can walk with the good shepherd and let Him tend to us, His sheep.

  5. Maybe I am misquoting “be still and know I am God”. How do we hear from God with all the noise and distractions? Time to be quiet and alone with God I think is pretty essential. His ways are not our ways and we need quiet time to reflex on our life and what we are here to accomplish. Just my opinion. : )

  6. Louise – thank you. I love this: “When I visit with them, I marvel at the silence. Very little traffic. You can hear the deer crashing around in the underbrush and hummingbirds duking it out for the primo spot on the feeder on the deck. It restores me.” So beautiful.

  7. My hubbs and I have had lots of conversations about this. We need to stop being afraid of the silence. We are all on this journey together and will get there, but these things take time. Thank you for your honesty and transparency. Your posts have a way of bringing up the ghosts of the past and expectations I’ve had to live up to at previous places I’ve served. Hashtag healing. Thanks again for posting this.

  8. Sweet silence! An interesting fact about me is that 95% of the time when I drive there is no music, no talk radio, no noise. Well, there’s a chatty 2 year old, but I like that noise. There is so little time for silence in our lives, and it seems like church is a good place to insert it, but I completely feel the nervous tension of what will happen if it’s truly silent for a moment. I start praying for the next “thing” to start before it gets awkward. What if in those moments I just relaxed and let myself be refreshed by it? Thoughts to ponder for sure.

  9. Makes me think of 1 Kings 19…because of His magnificence, we often imagine Him showing up mightily and in full grandure! Often times, Christians tend to call on or expect grandiose manifestations of God, when He often shows up as a whisper! Many times I have waited on Him fully expecting something big and bold, to end up having a greater encounter with Him simply by reading a familiar scripture in a new light or stoping to look at what He has surrounded me with!

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