‘Planting and Harvesting’ Godly Sincerity: Pastoral Wisdom in the Practice of Public Worship

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Evangelical Quarterly: An International Review of Bible and Theology


Concern for sincerity in public worship is a biblical ideal which has long been prominent in evangelical spirituality and in congregational life. Yet sincerity is a complex term which is operationally defined and experienced quite differently across cultures and ecumenical contexts. In light of this high ideal and this complexity, the essay argues that healthy pastoral practice emerges by expanding the definition of sincerity to include aspirational and empathetic prayer, focusing on enduring dispositions more than fleeting emotion states, celebrating the mutual interdependence of ritual and sincerity, and resisting both the separation of sincerity and truthfulness and ‘hypersincere’ practices which self-consciously call attention to sincerity. The essay concludes with preliminary reflections on healing and resisting insincerity, affirming sincerity as a Holy Spirit-given gift which we should pray for and testify about, but never coerce.

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