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The silence in church…

I love my church, but an ear-aching silence hit me while I was sitting in the sanctuary trying to listen to the message today.

200 people sitting quietly in one moment in time. That’s an awful lot of people to not be expressing themselves.

However, I still believe in preaching. I’ll post a few thoughts on it in the coming weeks.

UPDATE: by the way this not a knock at my church, but the very act of the preaching moment to a postmodern audience in general. Our church often attempts to engage people in different ways (ie. forms of worship, response, skits, informal randomness, laughter, visuals, etc.)

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Rodney Olsen January 14, 2007, 9:16 pm

    A lot of the time we should be refraining from expressing ourselves to allow God to express himself. That can happen through preaching, through silence and through studying the Word.

  • Heather January 14, 2007, 9:59 pm

    Our church is very responsive in worship and in word. Our Pastor (s) has/have led by example to get them to that place.

    I know that there are always differing personalities (thus denoms)but I think when the words is preached and God is anointing it, we should have a reaction to it. It doesn’t even need to be loud or boisterous, but if we ask God for the Word to penetriate our hearts, we should have a reaction.

    However, we need to have a balance. There is a lot of emotional manipulation that occurs in preaching.

    I am sure I didn’t hit every angle on this one…but its a few thoughts.

  • jw4man January 14, 2007, 10:39 pm

    The church that I am a part of is interesting in that there is not much call and response (such as in the african american churches) but we do have a good time. Well let me say we have a tradional service which is not very responsive at all – we could say that we have to take pulses at times to see if they are still living. Then the contemporary service is much more alive. We have laughter and some response from the congregation at times. All things considered it a good balance in my opinion. Just my thoughts our services.

  • Lon January 15, 2007, 8:43 am

    Rodney, that’s an interesting flip-side to the thought.

    Good insights Heather… a response of some kind should be expected when we’re talking about the very words of God. I hear you on the manipulation as well…

    jw4man… I’d like to hear more of how your service runs. It’s interesting how there can be different cultures within the same church.

  • martyschmidt January 15, 2007, 11:17 am

    In the past I would say that the services at our church grew in enthusiasm and anticipation for both worship and the word. Recently, I had the chance to preach/teach/share (I’d like to hear peoples different definitions on those words) and I was surprised. Not at what happened before or during the service but what happened after. It was the first service (your 80’s crowd – by age that is) that came up and expressed their thoughts, feelings, joys, and prayers with me. In my book the jury is still out.

    Love the picture – if I’m ever in Toronto maybe we can build some things.

  • cindy January 15, 2007, 1:22 pm

    Lon, We are starting a brand new church plant. We are small and therefore very responsive and participatory. I wonder if that is the key. Once a church gets so big it is hard to have much participation during a “formal” service. I guess thats what the small groups are all about.
    Hey, off topic. Where are you guys in Toronto? My daughter is going back in March.

  • Heather January 15, 2007, 6:03 pm

    i don’t think once you get big you have to lose verbal participation. I know many churches that are large and yet vocal. Our church runs 1200 and we are still engaged in the sermon. I even here myself say things like “good” or “yes” without even thinking about it.

    I also think that the way you worship will sometimes set the tone for peoples response to the Word. Its shouldnt’ be the only reason, but I do believe this happens.

  • Lon January 15, 2007, 8:39 pm

    Hey Cindy, thanks for the comment… must be a very exciting stage right now. btw, I’m in the north york region of Toronto…

    Heather, i agree… you don’t have to… but large does tend towards formalizing things for most churches/organizations… it’s good hearing that you’re still able to be so engaged during the messages in your community. and i’m 100% with you on the worship connecting with the word… so often we think of it as just the bread holding the meat, but it’s so much more…

  • Cindy January 15, 2007, 9:55 pm

    It is exciting Lon. I’ve never gone through this type of thing before. By we, I meant a group of us, not me persay. 🙂
    My daughter will be in Missisagauga.
    Heather, hope I wasn’t offensive. I was just thinking about the small groups in church being so important. You can only participate so much in the large sanctuary. Yes, I agree, you can verbally speak out at times but you can’t really add to the conversation or change the coarse of the discussion when you are in a 1200 person group. 🙂 But you can certainly enjoy what is going on and learn from what it being said and group worship is awesome!

  • Heather January 16, 2007, 1:36 pm

    No offense taken. Even though we corporately are 1200 person congregation, we also have small groups and Sunday School. I agree and also don’ t think you should speak out while someone is preaching. Having a reaction or engaging body language is good, but our small groups, Sunday Schools or ministries are where we really engaged and get deep. We could even converse abou the sermon of the week. Even though we have amazing preachers at our church, Sunday school or small group can have amazing impacts on my life because we get to talk things out.

  • Al Baldi February 2, 2009, 3:03 pm

    The purpose of attending Sunday Services in a House of Worship is to reflect on our (personal) relationship with God. This is done through ritual observance, devotion and prayer. Through the years, I have witnessed a formal breakdown of fundamental expectations as they relate to attire, behavior and participation. Not until quite recently, however, have I observed such a blatant disregard for propriety by a family seated in front of me. This past Sunday, an elderly couple celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary by renewing their marital vows. Family members, perhaps twenty in all, attended the “festivity”. By the manner this family conducted themselves, it was apparent to me that most, with the notable exception of weddings and funerals, probably hadn’t been inside a church in years. Their (collective) lack of decorum constituted nothing less than an invasion of the proprietary standards of religious worship. Most troubling to me was the restless attitudes of the parents who comported themselves like fidgety children, more so than their own children, may I add. One of the fathers was gnawing away on a piece of gum in the manner resembling a cow chewing its cud while another, a “brutish” looking fellow enamored of his “formidable” physique, was observed on more than one occasion flexing his muscles while protruding his tongue at one of the children seated beside him giggling like a mischievous school-boy. I ask you, what kind of example does this set for young, impressionable young children by lingering adolescents who should know better? I’m not on some quixotic quest. Nor am I trying to “convert” anyone. The decision to attend Sunday Services is necessarily a private matter. Although their hearts may not be in the right place, is it too much to expect that adults retain a sense of where they are; if not for themselves, at least for the sake of others for whom Mass is a solemn occasion? Perhaps we would have all been better served had this ill-mannered contingent postponed their celebration until they arrived at the Reception Hall rather than making spectacles of themselves before the entire congregation. This is another glaring example of the breakdown of (polite) society.

    Al Baldi
    Author “Aphorisms and Letters”


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