Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Texting in Worship

Brethren, I recently came across a good article written by Rick Holt, an elder for the Mt. Baker church of Christ in Bellingham, Washington. In it, he discusses present day problems with inattentiveness and disruption in worship. I have intended to address this myself, and would like for you to consider the following quote from the article.

My, my, how times have changed, or have they? These days, the schools still deal with the same problems, but a new set of hindrances have been introduced including the use of cell phones, text/pix messaging, playing games, etc. These problems occur not only at schools, colleges, and secular jobs, but during the worship of God on the first day of the week, and specifically, at the Mt. Baker church of Christ. Brethren, I have seen people writing notes then laughing to the point of bending over so as not to be seen (which didn’t work, by the way), games being played, manicures being done, no participation in the singing, the week’s working schedule being written out, and giggling during the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Did I just say that…pretty blunt, wasn’t I? Is this what God purposed before the foundations of the world…worship in this manner? Where is your heart? Why have you come to services? This is not play-time! You are in the presence of God, gathered with the saints (Heb. 13:22-29).

These activities are being watched by several people, some young—very young, some older, some who are visitors. Our actions influence those who are around us and those who visit and worship with us. What type of message does this congregation send to our visitors, let alone their friends? I realize that our congregation is not unique in having these problems. But that does not excuse these types of behavior. It must end. Turn your phone off or on vibrate (as you do in meetings at work), put down the paper and pen (unless you are legitimately taking notes), and listen attentively to the sermon and engage with your brothers and sisters in the worship of God. If your neighbor wants to play, encourage him/her to worship instead. If they comply, you have used your influence for good and covered a multitude of sins.

From time to time I too have witnessed inattentiveness during worship here at West Side. I am not saying the problem is extensive, but would encourage all the members to consider carefully the importance of being both focused, and diligent during the worship. Certain individuals have been seen “texting” on their cell phones during worship services, and there has always been the occasional problem with note passing, etc. among youngsters.

What is most disturbing is seeing adults and older teenagers or young adults so uninterested and disrespectful of our Lord as to participate in such activity. If the behavior is addictive, get help. Otherwise disconnect for the hour that your Lord deserves your undivided attention.

The Bible principles are clear. Jesus indicated in John 4:24, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” We spend so much time emphasizing that worship not offered in truth is sinful and vain. We would never consider worshipping, for example, using mechanical accompaniment to our singing. We have long held such to be without authority. Of equal importance is worship in the proper spirit. It would be interesting to talk with anyone who would contend that such spirit is present while they are engaged in some of the activities mentioned in brother Holt’s article.

A final quote from brother Holt’s article. This, a concise commentary on the assembly of Israel, recorded in Nehemiah 8:

They gathered together as one man (unity); heard with understanding (ears were attentive) the reading of the law for a length of time (5-6 hours?); stood when the book was opened (respect); bowed their heads and worshipped with faces to the ground (reverence/ humility); the law was read distinctly with sense given for understanding (teaching technique); and they wept when they heard the words of the law (convicted). We can apply these principles in our worship to God. Let’s turn our minds “on” to what is being said by the speaker, and not our neighbor… Let’s resolve to show more reverence, honor and give praise to God in our service together as we learn His Word. This is pleasing in His sight.

Wise words from a shepherd of God’s people. The sentiments I commend to you, in the hope that we all will worship God with a proper and reverent spirit.