I had occasion to visit the services of another congregation recently. I arrived late because I had preached at 6.00p.m. and could not get there earlier. I took a seat near the rear of the auditorium, unfortunately, just in front of two teenagers. I could hear them whispering during the song that preceded the sermon. This I thought about a little, but did not become excited.
As the minister spoke, I was constantly annoyed by the whispering that came from behind me. Even though I tried very hard to hear what the preacher was saying, the continual disturbance by these two teenagers let me get little (if anything) from the sermon. It was like trying to hear the weather report on the news over TV when the children are yelling, laughing and playing.
Theses two teenagers sang the song of invitation with as much fervor as any of the other worshipers present. I thought about speaking to them, but being a stranger in their service, I simply left. I could not but reflect that they did not know if I were a Christian or not, nor did they care whether I heard the sermon or not. They had no interest in the preacher’s sermon and through their muffled conversation killed the lesson for others who sat near them. I kept wondering why their parents did not check on them and stop their talking.
Those of you who whisper in church service, I appeal—either wait until services are ended or get our conversations over before they begin. I saw a little poster in the lobby of a church house one time that went like this: “If you must whisper, whisper a prayer.” I like that idea and encourage its practice. “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor 14:40)
The problem of distraction comes up every now and then. We have all experienced being disturbed by the cry of the baby, the movement of young children, the passing of notes and of course, whispering.
To the “noise-makers”: Be reminded of the importance of worshiping God in spirit and in truth. (Jn 4:23) God is in our midst when we worship and we must revere our Heavenly Father and be considerate to those around us too. To the “disturbed”: Let us be humble in correcting others and be patient while they grow in faith. (2 Tim 2:25-26)
We must not forget that Christ teaches us to be patient too. People at different stages of their lives face different challenges. Those who are strong, ought to bear with the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (Rm 15:1) In short, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Mat 5:16)
Have you met the Tate Family?
Do you know how many of the Tate family belong to our congregation? There is one man, Dictate, who wants to run everything, while Uncle Rotate tries to change everything. Their sister, Agitate, stirs up plenty of trouble with help from her husband, Irritate. Whenever new projects are suggested, Hesitate and his wife, Vegetate, want to wait until next year. Then there is Aunt Imitate who wants our church to be like all the rest of the churches. Devastate provides the voice of doom while Potentate wants to be a big shot.
But not all of the members of the family are bad. Facilitate is quite helpful in church matters, and a delightful member in the family is Miss Felicitate. Cousin Cogitate and Meditate always think things over and lend a helpful, steadying hand.
And, of course, there is the black sheep of the family, Amputate, who has completely cut himself off from the church.
Note: If you’re not familiar with some of the names of the “Tate” family, you may wish to look them up in the dictionary.