1John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Most people judge a church service by the way things appear on the outside. They like a certain type of music, a certain length of service, and of course the right emphasis (according to them) in the preaching. Some people will judge a service based on people crying out, clapping, dancing, or jumping in a service. Our church has been criticized because many people fall under the power or make noises in the services. The problem with all these observations is just that; they are just observations. Outward manifestations are no indication of what is actually happening in someone’s heart. Jonathan Edwards dealt with these issues during the Great Awakening. He actually wrote a book that would help in understanding some of the outward things going on. One of his points was that we should judge not by what we see on the outside but if the individual in question is actually changing and coming out from worldly influence. Here is how Edwards said it.
“And therefore if we see persons made sensible of the dreadful nature of sin, and of the displeasure of God against it, and of their own miserable condition as they are in themselves, by reason of sin, and earnestly concerned for their eternal salvation, and sensible of their need of God’s pity and help, and engaged to seek it in the use of the means that God has appointed, we may certainly conclude that it is from the Spirit of God, whatever effects this concern has on their bodies; though it causes them to cry out aloud, or to shriek, or to faint, or though it throws them into convulsions, or whatever other way the blood and spirits are moved.
The influence of the Spirit of God is yet more abundantly manifest, if persons have their hearts drawn off from the world, and weaned from the objects of their worldly lusts, and taken off from worldly pursuits, by the sense they have of the excellency of divine things, and the affection they have to those spiritual enjoyments of another world, that are promised in the Gospel.”
At the end of the day its not noises or lack of noises that determine whether a service is spiritual. What we should look at are the results. Are the individuals involved becoming more Christlike? Are they reading their Bibles and are they excited about spiritual things? Be careful what you judge, you may be judging the very work of God.