Recently I read about a couple hundred young people who gathered together and had an "awesome" time listening to a couple of contemporary Christian bands at a local church. The article spoke about them expressing their praise through movement and about the bands making a joyful "noise" unto the Lord.
As I read the article, I wondered how many of us miss out on blessings, and even hearing from God, because we are afraid of "experience" in our worship. We call ourselves "New Testament Christians," yet we seem to have become something that might not be recognizable to many first century believers.
One thing is for sure, the apostles didn't share our fear of experience.
A quick read of the writings of the apostles shows that John stated he was writing about what "we have heard," what "we have seen," and what "our hands have touched." (1 John 1:1) The Apostle Paul clearly states that Jesus had called him to be a witness of what he had "seen and heard." (Acts 22:15; 26:16)
Seems that the experience of the apostles raised their credibility among those they were teaching -- that their experience supported their doctrine.
Today, many Bible-believing Christians concede that God spoke to the apostles through everyday and even supernatural events "back in the day" -- but they become nervous when you talk about Him speaking and moving among believers today. They think God only speaks reliably through the Bible.
I, too, believe that the written Word of God is where we should begin in all of our understanding of God and His ways; of His involvement in our lives. But the Bible doesn't always interpret our experience. It is our knowledge of the Word that interprets our experience.
When we experience God -- whether through Bible study or prayer or worship or a Christian rock concert -- that experience should be measured through the standard of the Bible.
But we should be sure not to base our understanding of the experience on someone else's -- or some denomination's -- interpretation of the Word. In fact, our interpretation and application of the Word should be based on experience.
For example, I recently went through the process of a total knee replacement. I chose to travel that road because I have an orthopedic surgeon who I feel rightly diagnosed the problem with my knee (interpretation) and because I understood that she knew the correct procedure to complete the task (application). But, I assure you, I would not have allowed my surgeon to work on my knee if I didn't know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she had the experience to back up her interpretation and application.
Simply put, knowledge must be test by experience. If not, it is incomplete and theoretical.
I don't believe those young people moving and shouting and clapping their hands to express their worship was theoretical. I believe it was experiential, and I imagine they were glad for the experience.