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Etiquette in Pew & Pulpit
Publication: Banner of Love, 02/2012
Author: Don Richards
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Etiquette in the worship service

by Elder Don Richards, Lubbock ,Texas


While the worship service is always to be as directed by the Scriptures and Holy Spirit, the following is a recommended list of “etiquettes” for the persons sitting in the congregation, as well as for the song leaders, and worship leaders occupying the pulpit:

Etiquette in the Pew . . .

1. Come prepared. Prepare yourself for the worship service with prayer. Arrive early and in a worshipful state of mind. Be in your seat, quiet and ready for the first song. All visiting should cease with the first note of the first song. Follow the song leader in pitch and pace.

2. Dress for the Lord. Dress appropriately, being mindful that the purpose is to worship our Lord whose very presence is desired. Do not allow worldly dress fashions become your clothes coordinator. Dress expecting the Lord to be your personal fashion critic. Dress as you would decorate the “temple”.

3. Cell Phones off. All cell phones should be turned off; or at least silenced and only if needed for emergency availability.

4. Food, candy, drink. There should be no eating or drinking in sanctuary during the service. (medicine and medical conditions excepted; i.e. cough drops, bottled water). If/when you do eat candy, cough drops, etc. clean up your wrappers and any litter before you leave.

5. Disrupting children. The presence of children in the service is very important, and parents/grand parents are encouraged to help teach them to understand the service; but babies and children causing extended disturbances should immediately be removed from the sanctuary to available “cry rooms’ or the lobby/ foyer.

6. Help others. Provide help to those in need of assistance. Make sure attendees in wheel chairs, walkers, etc. are comfortable, have song books/bibles so they can enjoy and fully participate in the service.

7. Personal behavior. Be aware of personal (i.e. nervous) habits that may be annoying or disturbing to others (i.e. foot tapping, coughing, trimming/polishing fingernails).

8. Be aware of others. Observe general courtesy and thoughtfulness to others. Always be aware of how your behavior may be disturbing those around you. Take seats that will allow late arrivals enter quietly and effortlessly (i.e. choose front pews, and interior pew seating). Be prepared to quickly share with others (especially visitors) the pews, song books, bibles.

9. Welcome visitors. Be sure to introduce yourself and welcome all visitors; be sure they are invited to lunch, and have overnight accommodations when required. 10. Church traditions. Inform the visitors sitting near you of any church traditions (i.e. lunch, hand shake following service), and that their participation is welcome, but voluntary.

Etiquette in the Pulpit . . .

1. Be guided by the Spirit. Always be guided by the Holy Spirit, not the pride or ambitions of any man, yourself included. Speak as the Spirit guides you; stop when the Spirit does not. Recognize the needs and traits of the audience. There are very appropriate messages that may be inappropriate at the wrong time for the wrong congregation.

2. Do not assume your role. Do not assume your role in either song leading or speaking. Be observant and listen to the specific request or directions when asked to song lead, or speak.

3. Song leaders. If requested to lead singing, announce loudly at least twice, the name and/or number of the song, and provide the congregation ample time to locate it in their songbooks. In the absence of specific instructions, limit your song leading to two songs.

4. Be aware of request. Be aware of the pastor’s/moderator’s specific request of you regarding speaking from the pulpit. Do not go beyond the request, especially the amount of time specifically referenced. Always come to church prepared to read and comment on a bible verse; however, if asked to introduce unexpectedly, do not be afraid to speak “from the heart” for 10 minutes or less.

5. “Introduce”. If you are asked to “introduce” the preaching service; that means take a maximum of 10 minutes. If you feel especially guided by the Holy Spirit, then feel free to take 11 minutes.

6. “Share the time”. If asked to “share the time”, be especially observant of the time allotted for preaching, and do not exceed half of that allotted time.

7. “Preach for us”. If requested to “preach for us”, then you may feel free to use the majority of the allotted preaching time, but relinquish the pulpit back to the pastor/moderator prior to the end of the allotted preaching time.

8. Invited guest minister. If the church has an invited guest minister, the pastor should gracefully allow the visitor the large majority of time and opportunity to speak. The church hears the pastor regularly; and the visitor may have a special blessed message that day, but not if he does not have sufficient time to develop and deliver it.

9. Do not delay invitation. If a visiting minister is especially blessed of the Lord, the invitation to join the church should be quickly provided. The “spirit” in people that have been moved by the message should not await an unreasonable delay for the song and invitation. The spirit that leads non-members to join can be quickly killed by a drawn-out moderator’s monologue following a spirited message.

10. Preach to sheep, and to lambs. Remember you are speaking to the entire congregation: not to just the ministers in the first row, not to just the members, and not to just the adults. Awareness of the congregation, along with continued study and prayer will bless a minister to feed the sheep, and the lambs, and the members, and the visitors.

larry heldman  

Elder James Compton (1905 - 2007)
Elder James Compton was the original founder of the 'Gospel of Grace Tape Supply.' His collection of tapes began as he traveled to Church meetings and Associations recording sermons on Reel to Reel. He has maintained this library of sermons faithfully over the years and are now the foundation of PB Sermons. org. This web site is dedicated to Elder James Compton (1905 - 2007)