Do We REALLY Take The Worship Service Seriously?
Dennis L. Reed
Am I REALLY taking the worship services seriously? What importance do I place upon each worship service in the local church where I am a member? Do I have an absolute priority established about being at every worship service? Does my attitude during services reflect that my being there is an absolute priority?
Brethren, I am really troubled at times when I see what attitudes seem to prevail in far too many of our worship services. I would like very much to stimulate each one to give some very sober consideration to the observations mentioned in this article, and then really try to evaluate our own personal attitudes and priorities regarding our personal participation in the services.
If you have accepted the responsibility to be an usher at the services, are you making certain that you are among the very first ones to arrive for each service? Since you have accepted the responsibility to greet visitors, get visitors to complete a visitor’s card, help visitors to get into their appropriate classrooms, to give out the weekly bulletin, class materials, and sermon outlines to everyone in attendance, then how do you expect to do this when you arrive at the service just at starting time – or even worse – ten or fifteen minutes late to the service. Are you really taking the worship service seriously? Are you really a “responsible” and “dependable” brother?
If you have accepted the responsibility of making the announcements, do you arrive in plenty of time before services to be able to accumulate all of the information needed in making the announcements? Are you totally familiar with all the information which has been provided for you on the announcement sheet? Are you certain that everyone is present who has been appointed to participate in the service and have you checked that out with the brother who is responsible to make substitutions? Since the service begins with the announcements, do you expect everyone to wait until you arrive just at starting time or even five, ten or fifteen minutes late to begin the service? Are you really taking the worship service seriously? Do you seriously consider yourself to be a responsible and dependable individual?
If you have accepted the responsibility of leading singing for the service, have you selected and practiced your songs well in advance of arriving for that service? Have you been one of the first ones to arrive for that service so that you can post your song numbers on the boards? Or do you arrive just at starting time and hurriedly shuffle through the songbook to pick out some songs, and then hold up the starting time of the service so that you can post your numbers? Or is it that you are so late that the song numbers are not posted and the brethren have to hope that you announce the numbers with enough clarity so that everyone in the audience, even those with difficulty in hearing, can find the correct song? Are you really taking the worship service seriously? Are you really a “responsible” and “dependable” member?
If you have been appointed to lead a prayer in the service, do you speak loudly and clearly so that everyone can understand what you are saying and thus be able to say “amen” to your prayer? Have you given some attention and serious thought to what you are going to address in your prayer? Have you planned your thoughts so as to meet the desires and needs of each person who is participating in your prayer? Do you seriously consider that you are leading a prayer for everyone in that particular assembly? And, did you arrive at services in plenty of time so that it was not necessary to make a substitution for someone else to lead the prayer? Are you really taking your responsibility in the worship service seriously?
If you have been appointed to read the scripture in the services, do you read that scripture over and over so that you are very familiar with it before reading it publicly? Do you read loudly and pronounce your words distinctly so that the audience can understand and identify with what you are reading? Do you read the scripture as if the inspired writer was speaking directly to this audience? Do you really give this part of the worship service the seriousness which it deserves?
If you have been appointed to be responsible for serving the Lord’s Supper, do you plan well in advance what scriptures you are going to read and what comments you are going to make on that occasion? Have you determined who is going to be called on for prayer at the table and have they been informed that they will have that responsibility? Do you make serious plans to serve the Lord’s Supper with the soberness and dignity which it deserves?
And if we have a responsibility to serve in a particular service, and we know that we are going to be absent, do we give consideration to informing the brother who makes substitutions that we are not going to be present? Does this brother have to wait until just before the service to find out that you are not going to show up and then he has to make a last minute substitution? Do you give the seriousness that you should to your responsibilities in these matters? When brethren are habitually late or habitually sporadic in attendance, does this really show that we take the worship services seriously? Maybe that calls for another lesson about spiritual responsibility.
And do we not take the worship services seriously, when we habitually parade in and out of the worship service. Most brethren could accurately tell you in advance just who will be going in and out of the service because it has become a habitual practice on the part of some. It is surely not a rest room emergency ( even though some brethren DO have such emergencies), but is it not a trip to the water fountain or to the rest room to look at oneself in the mirror or to make a social telephone call, or possibly just to get out of the service to “kill” some of the time because of disinterest in spiritual matters? And if it is a restroom emergency, why does it seem to habitually happen just a few minutes after the 10 or 15 minutes which are set aside for that between Bible study and the assembly? Are we not responsible enough to take care of such things in a timely manner and not disturb others with our habitual parade? Are we really serious about what is taking place in the worship service?
And brethren, do we really take seriously how we are dressed if we are going to get up and participate in the worship service. Would we gladly contend that we are dressed in a manner which would be an example to everyone who might participate in a public worship service? Will I be dressed in a manner which will reflect the reverence and soberness of worshipping God and being in the same assembly with the Son of God? Would I wear these same clothes to a banquet, a wedding or a funeral? Would I wear them if I were going to various employers seeking a job? Would I wear them if I were to report for my job as a clerk in a fine department store? Would I wear them if I were summoned before a judge or in an audience with a high government official? Why is it then, that we can come in to the worship of Almighty God with any less seriousness? When one comes into the service, and especially to participate in the worship service, with his shirt tail hanging out, with his undershirt hanging down below his shirt, with dirty or dingy play or sport tennis shoes on, he clearly gives the appearance that he has walked directly off the ball field and into the worship of God! I often wonder just how serious this person is about worship? How much priority did this person give to how he is perceived by others? How really serious is this person about being an example to others? Does this person consider it an “inconvenience” to dress with a more respectful appearance? When you and I sit side by side with the Lord in worship services (Matthew 18:20), when you and I approach the throne of God in worship, when you and I are present before God and man to tell the greatest story every told, do we fail to take our physical appearance into consideration? Do we not desire to appear with the dignity and self respect which is deserved in giving reverence to the Lord? Do we really take the worship services seriously? Can we really be considered a “responsible” and “dependable” brother who desires to be an example in word, manner of life, love, faith, and purity? I am sincerely pleading with my brethren to realize that if you seriously want people to “be like you” and to follow your example in giving priority to the reverence of God, then you should seriously look at your physical appearance as well as your spiritual appearance when you assemble to worship the Lord. We would gladly accept the person into our assembly with “vile clothing” as being acceptable to the Lord, (James 2: 1-9), and we are careful not to make distinctions among ourselves and judge one brother above another. But when we willfully put our appearance in the worship far below how we would appear in other public circumstances, aren’t we saying a great deal about our priorities concerning worship?
Before you might begin to get defensive in saying that the Lord doesn’t demand a “suit and tie” appearance, would you think soberly with me about that for just a moment. What would you think about a brother who got up to serve the Lord’s Supper wearing a baseball cap turned backward on his head? Would you say anything to him about it? What criteria would you use? What would you think about a brother going before the assembly with no belt on and his pants hanging half way down his bottom and having his under clothes showing? Would you say anything to him about it? What criteria would you use? What would you think about a brother who habitually doesn’t take a bath getting up and serving in the worship service? Would you say anything to him about it? What criteria would you use? What if a brother habitually got up in the services with his tennis shoes hanging untied with the shoe strings dragging and his shirt unbuttoned all the way down the front to expose his chest? Would you say anything to him about it? What criteria would you use? What if a brother got up to serve the Lord’s Supper who had his hair dyed green and standing straight up on his head? Would you say anything to him about it? What criteria would you use? We may have never seen or ever will see such examples happening, but, you see, brethren, we DO have LIMITS in what we believe to be an acceptable physical appearance in the worship service. But our problem is that we don’t really appreciate anyone making a suggestion to us that we should evaluate our own appearance. All that I am asking is that we soberly think about how we appear to others and how we appear to the Lord when we assemble to worship Him! There is another whole spectrum regarding modesty in dress for both men and women which we really haven’t addressed in these thoughts, but we had better be dead serious in our thinking about those things as well. The trend, especially among women, of showing plenty of skin and dressing in clothes which are two sizes too small is becoming a serious matter in the services of the church as well as in daily life. Hello? Hello? Are we really listening?
Brethren, are we really serious about our worship of the Lord?