Growing up, church was a mandatory event, being the preacher’s kid and all. But going to church didn’t mean I worshipped. (More on that later). And now as a preacher, I have the best view of the pew sitters to see who is distracted.
This week, I picked up to reread Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It has delighted my soul in just the first few chapters as he sees the world of a small town boy and his mischievous ways. Long before Dennis the Menace, a century before TV shows, Sam Clemens was delighting families all around the world.
In two chapters, Tom (our hero) goes to church. He sits through Sunday School showing off, trying to impress the young lady while also bullying the other boys. He has little attention for the lesson. And when asked who were the first two disciples of Jesus, he answers, “David and Goliath.”
And then during the service, he looks for distractions … but a distraction that would not produce getting a swat from Aunt Polly. Whether watching and toying with a fly, or amused by the flea ridden dog toying with the ‘pinch beetle’ Tom actually let loose, Tom gets very little out of the service.
And Tom’s opinion of the parson is quite illuminating. He respects the parson’s reading and oratory skills, but pays more attention to how the ladies are emotionally drawn in than what the parson is saying. And when the preacher prays his long winded prayer, Tom (who knows almost every part of the every week prayer) is upset when Rev. Sprague adds extra lines to the routine practice, as if each extra line takes away from Tom’s play time outside.
The scene is immortalized in print and in art when Norman Rockwell put this into visual media …
The story equals the more current Mississippi Squirrel Revival by Ray Stevens. In Tom’s story, the dog sits on the beetle, only to be bitten. He yelps and runs around like a mad dog chasing everything in the small country church. Mayhem ensues and worship pretty much is over.
Worship is full of distractions waiting to be happen. Babies on their mama’s shoulder, passing notes, long time members watching to see if the guest will spill their coffee, seeing how many times the preacher uses a particular weird word, or the passing of trains. This doesn’t even add modern devices of phones, tablets, and more.
I of all people understand short attention spans, I even will get distracted seeing the train pass, while I’m preaching.
When it comes to a distraction, there are some great quotes that addemphasize …
If Satan can’t defeat you, he will distract you.
Or in the words of Adrian Rogers …
It’s not the worship leaders’ job to entertain, but we should not bore people to death either. Spurgeon once said, preach the bread of life, but throw a little honey on it too. Preachers … don’t put them to sleep.
Remember who you are worshipping. Remember why you are worshipping. And with these thoughts, it’s crazy not to get into worship. He is awesome and worthy of our praise.