By Connie W. Adams
The author of this article does not claim to be an expert on etiquette but there are certain amenities which ought to be evident to all who will stop and think a little. It is nothing short of amazing to observe some things which one cannot help seeing while standing in a pulpit. Some of the action not only is disconcerting to the one trying to preach, but to other worshippers as well. All such poor manners are not limited to the time when preaching is being done but occurs throughout services. In the hope that some will be helped I describe the following:
1. The Manicurist. This is the one who files fingernails during the service, and sometimes even clips them with a nail clipper. The person doing this is invariably a poor listener and seldom looks at the speaker. It is a diversionary tactic to help pass the time. Why not give the speaker your undivided attention-you just might learn something.
2. The Sleeper. If I had my way about it (and I don’t usually), I’d not call upon any brother to take any public part in worship of the congregation who shows so little respect for the Lord as to habitually sleep while God is being worshipped and his word being taught. What must be the impression made upon visitors to set, a man serve at the Lord’s table or lead public prayer, and then return to his seat and go sound asleep? What must be the attitude of God in beholding such irreverence? This is a curable ailment if one is willing to try.
3. The Isle Roamer. This might be a young child, a teenager or a grown person who wanders in and out during the service. We quickly excuse mothers with small children who must be taken out at times. I do not believe that the children and young people who wander in and out always do so. Do they go in and out at will at school? This becomes a habit and requires self-discipline. It is distracting to all present. It could divert one’s attention from a part of a lesson, which he needs the most.
4. The Gum Chewer. This person seldom does so discreetly. It is usually accompanied by popping and smacking with all the elegance of a cow pulling her foot out of the mud.
5. The Home Work Getter. This is the child or young person old enough to pay attention and to derive profit from the lesson. Some do this during song service. Such youngsters are not being taught proper respect for God and his worship. Firm parental attention will cure it.
6. The Invitation Up setters. These are the people who have come to look on the invitation, not as a solemn moment when every heart strains and yearns for the salvation of those who need to come to the Lord, but the signal for the end of the service. One is daresome to mention the word “faith” until he is right sure he plans to extend the invitation, for he will start a clatter of the early song book teachers. Then there are the gigglers and whisperers during this time. It is enough to make one decide not to obey the gospel if it breeds such poor manners.
Let us come before God with due reverence
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 19, p. 2
March 15, 1973