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Church Etiquette 7

This blog post ends the presentations of the 7 church etiquette guidelines: DO NOT: disregard, disrespect, disrupt, distort, distract, distress, or DISTURB. Since for most of us the words disrupt, distract, and disturb are synonyms, 2 remarks are fitting: (1) Because etiquette isn’t taught or talked about much these days, repetition is a good thing. So if one sees these three things as one then just know that it is THAT important, and is worth repeating (2) Because it is the most common area of violation re: church etiquette, reviewing and reexamining it will help keep it in front of us and will help guide us in the way we should go. Most view the differences between these words as generally just a matter of degrees… ‘To Disrupt’ is to cause/create disorder or chaos (tumult); ‘To Distract’ is to divert or prevent another’s full attention; ‘To Disturb’ is to bother, annoy, or interrupt. An example might help… if you are trying to listen to something on the radio and a jackhammer begins working on the street outside but is loud enough to nearly drown out your radio broadcast, that is a disturbance; if your boss comes into the room and begins to bark out orders over the top of the broadcast and the jackhammer, that is a distraction; but if he yanks the radio cord out of the wall causing the radio to go silent, that is a disruption!

Many people place a ‘do not disturb’ sign over their ears, heart, mind, not wanting God to “mess” with their lives. That is NOT a good thing. While we do not want you to do that, the gist of this article is to understand that “do not disturb” (when it is referencing not being an annoyance or a bother or an interruption to the work and worship of God) is a good thing. It is important not to be or ever become an impediment, an interference, or an interruption to the progress God is trying to achieve in your or anyone else’s life. Progress (onward)! Elevate (upward)!


Church Etiquette 6

This blog post covers #6 on our list of 7 of church etiquette guidelines: DO NOT: disregard, disrespect, disrupt, distort, distract, DISTRESS, or disturb. This ‘rule’ reminds us to NOT cause anxiety, stress, sorrow, pain, or the like in others. One of the ways to know if we are violating this objective is to think of what ‘distressed furniture’ is. When we do to others what one does to get the distress look, we are probably breaking this guideline. When one starts looking like ‘distressed furniture’ and we are the reason for that, then we are at fault. To produce ‘wear and tear’ on someone else’s life (outwardly or inwardly), whether we do this by direct measures or by creating an environment (situation) that does so, is wrong! Way too many churches are seen as ‘not safe’ because they are toxic to one’s life, soul, happiness, well-being. “Brothers this ought not to be.” Another way to cause distress is to allow someone to carry a burden alone. Whether we are talking about WEIGHTS (like grief, stress, anxiety, hurt, sorrow, etc.) OR WORKLOADS, we need not let anyone struggle along alone. Most churches operate under the “80/20 rule” = 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people (80% of the money comes from 20% of the people). We need to step in and step up to help shoulder OUR part of the burdens, workloads and responsibilities.

As a church, we have taken pride in (and rightly so) our attempts to help people with their “hurts, habits, and hang-ups”. The opposite of that occurs when we are the cause of another’s stresses, straining, and/or suffering. With the former (aiding), we are “Elevating” folks; with the latter (anguish / agony), we are failing to lift them up! Instead we are keeping them down, holding them back. As believers we should never be responsible for another’s anguish, angst, anxiety, agony, affliction. So, let’s make ‘elevate’ more than a theme; do not distress!


Church Etiquette 5

Our blog on church etiquette continues with the 5th on our list: Do Not Distract. If you read (remember) the blog entitled Do Not Disrupt, you might think that this rule and that one are the same (after all, they ARE very similar and do cover many of the same ‘areas’). However, the similarities are not reason enough to NOT cover this area again seeing as this is THE area where etiquette is most often breeched. The previous rule [Do Not Disrupt] dealt with <words, actions, movements> that interrupt, impede, or interfere with the flow of the service; i.e., things that divert the attention from what is suppose to be happening. Today’s rule deals with NOT derailing, detouring, or diverting attention from what is suppose to be the focus to things that are not suppose to be THE focus. Thus, the rule covers a border range of disruptions/distractions. The previous list is included of course (words, actions, movements), but one must add additional things like:

  • Attitudes – When one’s attitude averts the attention of those worshipping around them, that attitude is a distraction.
  • Looks – When someone looks at someone else with desire, distain, or disgust, that look is a distraction to the one receiving, or to others observing, “the look”. Another way ‘looks’ are distracting is when one is dressed inappropriately. The Bible warns against wearing clothing or jewelry that attracts too much (thus distracting) attention. The Biblical emphasis is on the adorning of the interior, with a warning re: the exterior.
  • Smells – Wearing overly strong or too much perfume/cologne is not only a distraction, but can also be the cause of someone avoiding (or of being ‘repulsed’ by) your presence. Some folks simply cannot stand strong smells. The other side of the scale is equally bad: improper or non-existence hygiene that results in strong, bad body odor is not only a distraction, it is also offensive.

So, whether it is attitudes, looks, or smells, WEAR IT WELL! Properly preparing for worship should include a balance between too much and not enough… so as not to distract from the worship experience. The consideration of and thoughtfulness for others is a characteristic of real Christianity.

Acquire Elevation while avoiding ‘extremes’!


Church Etiquette 4

We use 7 statements here at NCM to summarize ‘church etiquette’: DO NOT: disregard, disrespect, disrupt, distort, distract, distress, or disturb. Having previously dealt with the 1st three, today, we present # 4 on this list: Do Not Distort. This aspect of etiquette invokes, implies, and involves a number of Christian responsibilities. Not distorting when one is repeating (or reporting) a story (or a statement) is bigger than just ‘not stretching the truth’! Distorting occurs when one exaggerates, embellishes, effects, or edits the truth of a situation in any way. But ‘dishonesty’ (whatever the reason) is not the only way one distorts. To repeat or report something that isn’t true because one failed to receive (hear) it correctly, and/or failed to research whether it is true or not (verify) are 2 other ways to distort. For Example, most teaching that turns out to be false is not an intentional twisting of the truth, but is rather a simple mishandling of the Scripture [stemming from a failure to take the handling of Scripture seriously]. Thus, distortion does NOT revolve around one’s intentions!

So… whether it is through a failure, an oversight, an omission, an accident, or an intentional distorting of the facts (truth), the proper behavior of a Christian is to always attempt to avoid distorting! Anchor your beliefs… Amend your behavior… Analyze your banter… so everything is actually connected to and is accurately communicating TRUTH!


Church Etiquette 3

Discussing ‘church etiquette’, this blog is using 7 guideposts to summarize it for us here at NCM: DO NOT: disregard, disrespect, disrupt, distort, distract, distress, or disturb. We have previously dealt with the 1st two, so today we consider the 3rd in this list: Do Not Disrupt. A disruption occurs when ‘some type of interruption shifts attention from the main focal point to something else.’ Growing up, many children were taught ‘not to interrupt’. Many are not being taught this today, and still more do not think it applies when they ‘have something to say!’ But this is still the best way to determine if something is disruptive or not. ‘Service interruptions’ occur… (1) when people talk to each other during the service (during announcements, singing, preaching) [a common way to judge disruptive behavior is “is this rude?” — & since we all know that it IS rude to talk when someone else is talking, this one is easy to conclude as ‘disruptive’); (2) when people enter or leave the room at inappropriate times (“inappropriate” here is in tandem with how much attention is diverted; e.g., it is NOT appropriate to ‘interrupt’ the invitation/altar call! This is the time for folks to respond to God, and the SLIGHTEST interruption is magnified! 2 ways to avoid this etiquette breach: (a) be on time – it is ‘rude’ to be late when you can prevent it; (b) Plan ahead – e.g., go to the restroom before the service; (c) And if you have to leave/enter a service already in progress, be as inconspicuous as possible! Remember the goal is NO ATTENTION DIVERTED. (3) when moving about or responding in a way that is different than the rest of the congregation. This last item on the list has to be considered delicately: some might view raising one’s hands in worship as disruptive (and for people who are uncomfortable with ‘expressive praise’, it might be)… BUT that does not constitute a true ‘disruption’. The question in distinguishing whether something is disruptive or not is “is this seen as a ‘correct response’ or is this ‘creating a ruckus’?” The answer must be mindful of the flow of what is happening and whether one’s <actions, words> interrupt that (or shift the attention/direction). If God impresses you to go to the altar, go to the altar (yes, even in the middle of a song)! If you feel the need to say Amen, say Amen. If you are moved to stand during a song, stand! These are NOT disruptions to the flow of the service! But asking, “what’s for lunch?”… really?

Elevate your worship by taking seriously what is going on and CONTRIBUTE to it! Do not interrupt, impede, or interfere with the direction the service is heading or the attention of others in worship!


Church Etiquette 2

Church Etiquette 1 was a blog post that dealt with not DISREGARDing those who have joined us physically inside the building. Today’s blog will deal with the 2nd of the 7 summaries concerning ‘church etiquette’; that second attitude is: Do Not Disrespect. There are many different traditions that surface and sometimes are shared by church members. These traditions vary, as one would expect, in different places around the world (or around the corner), or even in the same place. This is true partly because traditions stem from various sources: the culture, the church, or even Christianity as a whole. Recognizing that would be the case, Paul gave instructions to view our causing a brother to stumble as something to be avoided. That requires us to place our own traditions or ‘freedoms’ a little lower down on the decision template [“just because you can, does NOT mean that you should”]. It will be true that certain traditions might NOT mean anything to us, BUT that is not a reason to trample on them as entirely meaningless for everybody. When we respect others, and show that respect in our behavior, we are demonstrating humility, deference, and love for others. Is it even possible to be Christ-like AND disrespect someone?

While we know that Cultural Traditions, Church Traditions, and Christian Traditions are not the same thing (!), we also know that ‘traditions’ are not the same for everybody. You do not have to believe in the tradition to, out of deference, observe it (e.g., men not wearing hats in church; women covering their heads; not running in the sanctuary; times of silence; etc.). But, showing respect for others and not causing them to stumble, should become a vital part to our worship and in our relationships with God and others. Simply put: elevate others above yourself & DO NOT DISRESPECT!


Church Etiquette 1

To speak about & summarize ‘church etiquette’, I would use the following 7 guideposts: DO NOT: disregard, disrespect, disrupt, distort, distract, distress, or disturb. We’ll make one blog post for each of these seven ‘words’. The purpose is to see how we are to understand what is expected from the members of New Church Memphis in the way they conduct themselves in the House of God. First, Do Not Disregard [= Put others at ease]. One-way people view ‘Etiquette’ is as ‘polite behavior’ as defined or designated by the populous (general public). Proper Etiquette is therefore about NOT being rude! A common way for church members to be seen as ‘rude’ is to ignore or to disregard the people who attend church with them. When we ignore other members of (or even worse, when we ignore guests visiting) the church, we are in breech of etiquette! When we encounter someone at church, whether in the parking lot, the hallway, a Sunday School room, the Sanctuary, wherever, we need to engage them with the following activities (when/where appropriate): Greet people; smile; be friendly; introduce yourself (& others); shake hands; offer help (like directions); attempt to make people feel welcome; after the service, thank them for attending & invite them to come back! These activities are in keeping with etiquette, common courtesy, and politeness in general. Do not be rude, do not disregard others (guests or members). The benefits will not only be a reputation for being friendly, kind, welcoming, considerate, and helpful, but it will also pave the way for folks to get to know us and hopefully join us. Let’s put people at ease, not put them off!



Tim Vigus on Cary MS Mission Trip

Recently, New Church Memphis decided to minister to Cary Christian Center in Cary, MS, on an annual basis. The center is located in the poorest county in the United States! What an opportunity for the NCM mission team to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ!!!!