Respecting the Assembly

by Bryant Evans on May 19, 2017

(Authors note: I am not opposed to using a digital Bible. Use whatever works for you. But the temptations to cease worshiping and browse social media is real. If you cannot avoid FB for a few minutes then leave the phone in the car. Your time with your Lord and your brethren is too precious! – jbe)

God’s people have been gathering together since Sinai. During the period of the Levitical priesthood, the people would assemble at the Tabernacle and later at the Temple to offer sacrifices and to celebrate holy days. After Judaism ended and Jesus established his church, people continued to come together to worship. Acts 2:46 tells us they were together day by day fellowshipping and engaging in various aspects of worship.

The practice of the earliest Christians, acting under apostolic approval, was to come together on Sunday to break bread (Communion), receive teaching. and to contribute to the works of the church (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). The assembly was important. There were no “Lone Ranger” Christians apart from those who assembled. Brethren worshiped God together and encouraged one another through their fellowship and singing, something that cannot be done if you are not part of the assembly. Coming together like this implies respect for both God, as the object of worship, and the brethren, as co-worshippers of the Lord.

A worshipper would never consider doing anything that would distract from his own devotion to God through worship, nor would he distract others from their worshipping.

I fear we have forgotten that simple lesson.

  • From his perch behind the pulpit, the preacher sees a lot. When he preaches from the floor he often can see the screens of smartphones and immediately knows that some are not paying attention to a word he says.
  • From where he stands he can see the adults making goo-goo eyes at babies, playing with non-infant children and actually laughing at one another.
  • From his perspective, he can see into the darkened training rooms where people of all ages sit to chit chat during worship.
  • From his point of view, he sees the people who leave early even though worship is not completed.

The speaker further knows that it is not about him; he takes no personal offense at such antics but is saddened by those who think little of worship. There is always a better speaker somewhere else. Sadly, the same things occur in his audience too.

Let me suggest the following to help you worship better and to eliminate the distractions to others.

  1. Leave the phone in the car. – I love technology but the distractions of a phone that can access Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, email, and texting is just too much for me to handle. Use a paper Bible as it is easier to take notes and underline.

  2. Sit closer to the front. This puts many of the distractions behind you and allows you to focus on worship.

  3. Teach children; do not play with children in worship.

  4. Go to the bathroom before Wait until the end to go again if possible.

  5. Do not leave early. Make a statement to the people you are meeting that worship is more important to you than they are!

It boils down to one question: Is there anything more important that worship? I didn’t think so.


 

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at preachersstudyblog.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @J_Bryant_Evans.

 

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{ 2 comments }

Austin May 24, 2017 at 10:54 pm

I enjoyed your article and I agree wholeheartedly that worship should be treated with respect and reverence, however I would like to respectfully offer a few counterpoints to your suggestions here as I seem to have a different point of view:

1. My phone contains my bible, in several translations, and also a selection of commentaries, encyclopedias, and atlases that I find useful. I could carry paper copies of all these books, but I don’t think my back could take it.

(For what it’s worth, when I look around, the people I sit near all seem to be using their phones for their bibles too, and not texting or facebook.)

2. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can concentrate much better sitting on the very back row. That way, there is no one sitting behind me, which is one less distraction to deal with.

3. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect very young children to behave as adults. I have two nephews under the age of two that don’t possess the ability to sit still for an hour without some toy or book or person to occupy them. Sometime it takes quite a bit of energy to keep them relatively still and quiet, which the parents do, to keep them from becoming a distraction to other members, even if it means they (the parents) don’t get to hear every word of the sermon. I tend to view that more as a noble sacrifice, instead of reason for rebuke.

Also, I admit to being guilty of making “googoo eyes” at babies from time to time, but it’s not a behaviour I’m ashamed of. When I think on Christ’s interaction with children in Mark 10, I get the impression that his reaction sitting next to a newborn wouldn’t be so different.

4. As someone who struggles with a medical condition that causes me to have to use the bathroom frequently, often at inopportune times, I can only hope no one is secretly judging me for slipping back to the restroom when needed. But of all the issues modern christians face, I think the church will survive my bathroom habits.

Bryant Evans May 25, 2017 at 7:12 am

Thanks, Austin! I should clarify. There is no problem at all with using a digital Bible if that is what we are using it for. But some people cannot get away from social media. One purpose recently spoke of leaving FB because it had become an idol. What I should have said was leave the phone in the car if you cannot resist the temptations to text and post during worship. Like you, my phone is full of Bibles and texts. If you concentrate better from the back, that is fine. Frankly, I have never been told that. Did I suggest young children should act as adults? I don’t see that. At Eastern Shore, we encourage having children in the assembly. But don’t you think we should try and teach them appropriate behavior? Bobbi and I have raised three boys and I know what you mean about the energy it takes sometimes. There are times when you must tend the children. But, tending the children is not the same as playing. I agree with the Mark 10 comment but it may be a stretch to apply that occasion to worship. Medical problem? Hey, do what you need to. I am glad you are present and worshiping with the saints. I think medical conditions are the exception, however.
We assembly together to give glory, praise, and thanksgiving to the Lord and to encourage and uplift one another.Let us do the very best we can. Thanks for you thoughts!

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