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What Is Acceptable Behavior in Worship?

Today we thank God for the simple but sublime way of worship found in the pages of the New Testament: worship in spirit and truth, and that is entered into by every child of God functioning as a priest offering up the spiritual sacrifices God has prescribed in His Word (John 4:24; 1 Peter 2:5). We must always strive to be Biblical and allow God's word to guide us as we strive to worship acceptably. But some who oppose innovations in worship may not be worshiping acceptably themselves. My friend and fellow-preacher Rick Rolin recently challenged my thinking about worship and my behavior in the assembly in his weekly bulletin article (7/02) for the Wildwood Valley Church of Christ in Hurricane Mills, TN. Here are a few excerpts from that excellent article:

"I freely admit I often find myself feeling a bit frustrated because of what I observe taking place during the worship of Almighty God .... When I stand before the Church to preach, I have what might be called a 'bird's eye view' of the assembly. I sometimes see people doing things that are not only bothersome but disappointing. I cannot help but wonder what the Lord is thinking as He observes the assembly .... When I see adults, who should know better, carrying on a conversation while I am delivering a message to the congregation, that is not right. "I have for you a few of my rules that I believe will give good order at worship services: Concentrate on the worship of God... Surely we can get our minds off other stuff for one hour. Do not allow others to play with your children at worship services. If you allow others to play with your children, it gives them the wrong impression about the service. The worship of God in not a 'play time' or time to socialize. (I understand we must humor children, especially small children. They are not programmed to be quiet during church .... babies behave like babies.) Nonetheless, children will develop a healthy respect for Church and the worship of God if they observe it first in you .... I have people ask me, 'Do I think children are different today than forty years ago?' My answer: 'No. I think parents have changed but children are basically the same as ever. The problem with children, many parents do not have the will or backbone to rear their children in the way they should go .... Parents/adults, we must accept the fact that children learn a great deal from observing our behavior. If they see us showing disrespect for the worship of God then don't blame them when they grow up and do the same .... I grew up attending the Minor Hill Church of Christ in Minor Hill, TN. My mom,  my grandmother, my older brother, my older sister and myself all sat together on one little pew. We would sit there and not 'act up' during the service. We didn't go outside and if we did it was bad news .... Ask yourself this question: What does the Lord think about you considering your behavior during the worship service?"

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ