I want to tell you about 10 different ways Deaf people worship.
The first is through dance. You feel the rhythm with the signs while you praise.
Secondly, Deaf people worship by feeling the beat like the thump of the bass and the drums. You turn the volume up so the vibrations and beat can be felt in the entire body.
The third way is by following the written lyrics. This occurs by using either a word-to-sign correlation or by changing the English words to conceptually accurate sign language. You also can follow the Holy Spirit’s leading to decipher the meaning behind the lyrics. It is also possible to follow along using a hymnal.
The next way Deaf people worship is following the beat. I had previously mentioned turning the volume up to be able to feel the vibrations. You can follow a percussionist’s beat while using repetitive signing. This is an idea that was taken from Deaf Harbor’s worship.
The fifth potential way to worship is by having a person in front of the stage or on stage signing the songs. This person can be Deaf, hearing, or hard of hearing. Others can then copy what they are signing.
Another way is through ASL poetry. These poems have three variations:
• Handshape: Use one to three handshapes for the entirety of the program.
• ABCs: Start with the letter A handshape and telling the poem through the alphabet. It is possible to add or use number handshapes as well.
• ASL Stories: Use ASL signs, facial expressions, body language, and classifiers to express the story, worship, or poem.
The seventh way worship is expressed is via Deaf rap. This really ties everything together. Dancing, the beat, and repetitive signs are combined together to create Deaf rap.
The next way is to intentionally turn the volume up loud. People who have hearing aids or cochlear implants can hear the beat and lyrics. This allows them to follow along. When someone comes in who can hear, they need to remember the volume is for those who need it.
Worship can also come in the form of people praising the Lord on their own. This includes signing praises, hallelujahs, and celebrations with joy to the Lord.
The tenth way Deaf people express worship is to worship as a congregation. When the congregation worships and praises together, sometimes with a sign choir, a chorus is created. They sign in rounds, in waves, and by taking turns.
You now know 10 different ways Deaf people worship. Next Sunday, see if you can identify the different expressions. I encourage you to incorporate these 10 ways into your own Deaf worship.