I have not looked forward to answering this question. This in one of those emotional hot-button issues that tends to divide people who should not be divided. However, I try to answer the questions people have on their minds to the best of my ability and feel this one needs to be answered. I ask for patience from those who read my answer.
First, we need to define what the shout is. I am not sure it means the same to everyone. My dictionary defines a shout as a loud cry or call; any sudden, loud outburst or uproar. In your question, I am sure you are referring to the practice in certain churches to shout out loud when they are overjoyed with the blessings of the Lord. However, the practice from church to church and from time to time varies greatly. In some, an old timer may occasionally shout out praise in an especially good service. In others, the shouts are as common as black-backed Bibles. They may even dominate the services from beginning to end.
The Bible recognizes two major causes for shouting. When Joshua and Moses returned to the camp in Exodus 32, Joshua thought he heard a noise of war in the camp (v.17-18). However, Moses told him that is was rather the noise of them that sing that he heard. That is, instead of shouts of war, they were hearing shouts of joy. But this passage shows us something else as well. Not only are there two main reasons for shouting, there are also a good side and a bad side to each kind of shout. In Exodus 32:18, Moses declared, "It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome." Here we see that a shout of war may come from the victors or from the conquered. But the passage also shows us that shouts of joy can be good or bad. Here, the people were shouting because they had just turned from God and were worshipping false gods. Their joy was certainly misplaced.
At this point, we need to ask a couple of questions:
- Are we commanded to shout in church?
- Are we commanded not to shout in church?
When it comes down to it, simply discretion is the best policy. Shouting is not to be the goal of a church service. However, on great occasions, they have shouted for the great joy given to them by the Lord. Certainly, this may come into churches at times. But perhaps we should remember that the greatest signs of true revival are quite the opposite of shouting.
In the Great Awakening in America under preaching like that of George Whitefield and Gilbert Tennent, shouting for joy was seldom heard. Rather, people would cry out with an overwhelming sense of guilt. They would weep or sob. Sometimes, they would faint because of their dread of the judgment of God. However, the services remained orderly until a preacher named James Davenport encouraged more violent outbursts.
Unfortunately, we have often followed the extreme as the rule instead of the responses to deep conviction brought by the messages of Whitefield and others. The revivals of the past were brought about by the deep conviction of sin and repentance of sinners; not by the extreme emotional outbursts of lukewarm saints.
On this issue, good people will disagree. I say nothing here as an attack on anyone. I only attempt as well as I can to put an emotional issue in the light of God's holy word. Any failures are with me and none are with the Holy Book.