to this publication
November 5, 1999.
We recently read about a person converted from denominationalism who
asked someone, "Why is the church of Christ so rowdy?"
"What do you mean?" she was asked. Her explanation was
something like this: "Why do the people in the assembly talk and
move around right up until the last moment, and then they turn on their
worship?" She continued, "One lady in there tonight
leaned across me and asked the lady sitting beside me if she could
borrow her nail clippers when she got finished with them. Later,
she had the nerve to ask me to 'pass the clippers' when she observed
that the lady had finished her nails."
Do you think this is unusual? After 40 years of traveling and
worshiping in different congregations, we sadly admit it is not.
There are all too many distractions in the worship by people who should
know better. We understand that small children need to be kept
quiet, and there is some effort necessary on the part of parents for
this. But bigger kids and adults should know enough to show
respect for the worship of the living God. We request that you
consider the following suggestions --
- Please get plenty of rest before coming to worship. It is
very disrespectful to sleep while God speaks to you from His
word. At a "big meeting" someone woke up in
time to drop a dollar in the cup. Did that person really
worship God that day?
- Please keep your mind on the worship. It is distracting to
other worshipers when you have to be nudged to pass the
communion. One time a sister laid a penny on the
bread. Oh, how sad!
- Please wait to communicate with friends. Can't you simply
talk to your friends after the service is over rather than
distracting the preacher and other listeners by passing
notes? Every day at school students are sent to the
Office for passing notes in class. Sometimes the teacher will
read the note to the rest of the class. Maybe it would break
some people from drawing and passing notes if the preacher
would read what they had written or hold up their "art work"
for everyone to see. Don't forget that the teacher at
school and the speaker in worship can see these things going
on. But even if the speaker doesn't see it, God knows if
you are listening to His word.
- Please don't whisper or talk to others. This interferes with
other people's listening and concentrating on the elements of
worship. When there was a moment of silence in the worship at
one place, you could clearly hear one sister say to another,
"I fry mine in butter." Another time, during
communion, it was, "My grandchildren bought me this
purse." Is that worshiping in spirit?
- Please don't day-dream. You certainly dislike it when others
are obviously not listening to you. Some preachers are
the world's worst listeners. Please grow up
spiritually! Or, maybe you need to pray to the Lord to
help you get rid of your pride.
- Please don't clip your nails, shuffle papers, or make any
unnecessary distracting commotion or noise. Remember you are not
alone in worship. Concentrate on the worship and allow
others to do the same. A brother one place wrestled with
the pages and thumbed through his song book all during the
prayer. When the prayer was over he jumped up to lead
the next song. For shame!
- Please take a screaming child out. Don't let your problem
become everyone's problem. Don't let yourself, or your
child, be so distracting it becomes nearly impossible for the
congregation to worship in spirit. Please discipline your
child outside of the auditorium.
- Please adjust the thermostat before services. This is best to
keep down extra movement. Any time the adjusting of
mechanical things needs to be done during the worship, it
should be with as little distraction as possible.
- Please keep your attention on the worship and not on the other
worshipers. Don't be guilty of lasciviousness anywhere,
but it is so disrespectful and distracting to others when it
occurs in the church services. Do your courting somewhere
else. It's not wrong to sit by a person you date, but
young Christians whose hearts are set on worshiping and serving
the Lord will be more impressed with you if you show deep
reverence and respect for the worship.
- Please go to the rest room before services. If it has become
a habit for you or your child to get up and go during the
worship, limiting the amount of fluid consumed before you come
to services may be the solution. For years gospel
preachers have had to compete with milling people for the
attention of congregations. If you have a serious kidney
problem please be considerate of others, and sit in the back of
the crowd where you can exit, distracting as few as possible.
- Please don't smack chewing-gum in worship. That is very
disrespectful; you know it isn't even allowed in school.
We have wondered if the person chewing gum has to take it out
of their mouth to eat the Lord's Supper, or do they just shift
it around out of the way? All of this seems totally
distasteful and out of place. If you have to chew gum,
please do it before or after the service.
- Please don't gaze at your watch, or frequently check the
clock. You might be showing others that you would rather
be somewhere else. What kind of an impression are you making on
outsiders when you look like you have a "let's get this
over with" attitude?
Finally, we understand that there may arise an unusual situation
which necessitates a change in our ordinary conduct. However, if
we keep in mind our purpose is to "worship God in spirit and in
truth," we will certainly be very careful that we create as little
confusion as possible. Our worship is to be done "decently
and in order." We must never forget that "the spirit
indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak," therefore, we must
consider one another, not doing anything unnecessary which will offend
or distract. Let us all work on being more reverent in our
worship to God.