The chapter on worship addresses why people in an age of online sermons and recorded worship music need to meet together. Corporate worship “allows us to experience our belief in union with fellow believers.” This helps us experience our belief. True worship involves our bodies and our brains; many churches now have moved away from liturgical style services that included sights, sounds and the actions of every participant. But, according to Rob Moll, “there is a neurological cost when worshippers look and act more like an audience…than like active participants in the service.” (133) This cost is largely because of the way our brains process information. The richer the experience, the more powerful the memory. Memories work to change the structure of our brains so a rich worship experience can change us more powerfully. This is a chapter of the book that every worship pastor should read, not as a call to bring back the incense, kneeling benches and congregational reading, but as a call to think more deeply about the way God created us to worship Him with our whole being (Deut 6:5).
In the final section Moll addresses what difference it all makes. For me, the main theme is encouraging. God created me for relationship with Him. He designed me to connect with other people and to do things that further His purpose on the earth. Even more encouraging, God created our brains with unique abilities to change and grow and the activities that change our brains most profoundly are also the things that help us draw closer to Him.
According to brain plasticity researchers, real, measurable brain change requires training. We must do simple tasks over and over again. We must focus our attention and emotion on the training. It is not easy. Moll cites the examples of stroke patients who try over and over again to accomplish tasks that seem so simple. The tasks are impossible until one day they are not. In the same way, there are various ways we practice knowing God through prayer, meditation or study and slowly develop our connection with God. Through these practices, “God rewires our brains and renews our minds, he makes us into new creatures.” (170)
I read What Your Body Knows About God at the end of November, just as we were preparing to enter into Advent. I love this season of focus on the Incarnation, of pondering the miracle of Word made flesh. That God himself would take on our frail human form for the purpose of drawing us into relationship with Him is nothing short of awesome. It should be unsurprising, then, that He would design these physical vessels to connect with Him and to be more fully yielded to Him through our actions. In combining cutting edge science with ancient spiritual wisdom, Rob Moll has written a book that will both challenge and encourage you as you grow in relationship with God. I highly recommend it.