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Pass The

Pass The Clippers

by Richard Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
November, 1999

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Last updated:
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.