Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Death of Reverence: We're All Suspects

Whatever happened to Reverence in our worship? Honor, respect, awe, and sincerity in the House of the Lord? They've all been laid waste.

Somebody killed Reverence. I think WE Did. I present my case:

The Evidence:
A quick scan of a sanctuary at any time of a typical worship service and you will likely discover a disturbing display of congregants noticeably whispering (or talking), pointing, winking, smirking, rolling eyes, giggling, and of course, vigorously texting. And I'm not talking about 14 yr olds, either. This type of behavior was once reserved for concerts and musicals with their more lax atmosphere, but now, it could be during the sermon, altar call, and even communion. It could be argued that in the life of today's church, the only time you can expect every person (who knows better) to display tact in church is during the opening mournful moments of a funeral.

Possible Motives:
Boredom, not with church but with ourselves. Too many church people have NO LIFE. So they try to squeeze every life experience out of attending church which is impossible. Church is our place of worship and fellowship, which should be enjoyable, but not become merely entertainment or sport. Yet, we have attempted to implement both of the latter things (some of us successfully) during worship, because we lack real connections, hobbies, and interests outside of the sanctuary.

Information Overload. Many, especially younger generations, just seem to KNOW too much to take church seriously. The previous generation of saints are to blame for this. Our parents and grandparents have many times been WAY too loose-lipped about the faults of the church, it's leadership, and some other saint they "just can't stand". When reverence for a person (ex. Pastor) is affected, so is reverence for what they do (preach). The older saints were able to maintain at least the appearance of respect despite being aware of the seedier aspects of the ministry. The young ones? Not so much.

A Weapon Has Been Found at The Scene of the Crime:
One only needs to visit YouTube and type in "Craziest Shout Ever!" or "Worst Choir Ever!" and you'll discover that in almost every church someone has a camera-phone or pocket camcorder and they're all too ready and willing to use it. Like you, my phone goes with me and gets used everywhere and that includes church. And I admit I've even sent a text or two during church when it was absolutely necessary in a discreet manner. But to check Facebook after service to discover someone has provided color commentary throughout the entire service or merely decided to banter back and forth with someone else (sometimes, in the same room) is a bit much, especially when the post is "Sis. So & So is singing and she sounds a hot mess!", "I wish Pastor would hurry up", or a picture of a style-deficient saint posted moments after the offending outfit was spotted. What happened to talking about this stuff @ Perkins/Red Lobster/Olive Garden after church? Why do we find nothing wrong with openly embarrassing another saint? And let's not even talk about 2 people sitting right next to each other, texting one another. That must be the pinnacle of stupidity. (Sorry, I promised myself I wouldn't get mean about this, but I couldn't help it on that one)

As much as we'd like to place blame on the available technology, the truth is our greatest weapon is our own hearts. We seem unable to set our hearts entirely on God for more than a few minutes. I believe Jesus had a problem with this, and even warned what would happen if we can't maintain our focus (Matt 26:40-41) We have decided within ourselves that it's acceptable to walk and talk while the Pastor is praying. We believe it's ok to openly laugh and ridicule even the most sincere person because they shout funny or sing badly. I'm pretty silly myself and there are always times of levity & laughter when something genuinely funny has occurred and even the pastor has to chuckle. But everything can't possibly be an opportunity for comedy or sport. We act as if it's normal to dance up and down the aisle (supposedly in the Spirit) and seconds later pull out our phone and record our friend doing the same as if it were sport while laughing and cheering them on. We praise Praise, celebrating the style rather than the substance of it.

Yes, all of the above statements are generalizations, but are supported by numerous and consistent examples of offense. This is not meant to bash, but to call ALL of us to self-awareness.

The Verdict?
Guilty. But not without hope. Reminds me of a sermon I once preached "Convicted, but not Condemned".

We should do better and we can. Comments are welcome.

elder todd

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you.
    I'm having problems at my church with many girls dressing very indecent and no one will say anything to them. Now my family is in pastor's bad side because we complained about it. They believe that God loves everyone the same way, no matter what.