Tag Archives: worship service

Power of Touch

These days, church is weird.

We have started back as one service. We are under the 50% occupancy rule. No choir. No offering. Extra cleaning. Marked off sections for our seniors. Spread out. No invitation at the end. Like I said, weird.

Limited singing. And a sermon. Prayer. Pretty much it.

No touch rules are in effect. That means no hand shakes, no high fives, and especially – no hugs.

But it’s also a bit … cold. This is not a reflection on our worship or how I know we are praising God and hearing from His Word. But it is a reflection on the human connection factor.

Can you imagine the early church – “Okay Marcus, thanks for coming. Did you bring your mask? Oops, you’ll need one. Welcome Lydia. Please, no greeting with holy kisses for three months. And Silas, stop passing out your copies of Paul’s newest letter. You don’t know who’s touched those.”

So, today’s worship. We walk out in shifts to avoid getting too crowded at the door. We wave but rarely really connect. And once music and services are done, on come the masks which prohibit smiles and warmth to be seen.

If your love language is touch, you’re just finding this really hard.

You see, touch is important. Meaningful touch is seen as an integral part of giving one a true blessing … Abe to Isaac, Isaac to Jacob, Jacob to his kids, and especially Jesus all through his ministry – sick, outcast, shunned, and children. He touched people.

So a worship that prohibits touch is out of sync in some ways.

avoiding healthy, appropriate meaningful touch sacrifices physical and emotional health in our lives and the lives of our loved ones

john trent

True, I’m not a hugger. And I might even ridicule those who try to hug me. So be warned. But I miss the connection we’ve ostracized. I don’t know how to really move past this or how to overcome this in this day and time. But we need to do something.

For now, I can at least hug my wife. She hasn’t mandated that as illegal yet.

Is there someone out there with an idea? Can you share with the rest of the class how you have over come this? How do we connect physically in a time where touching is seen as anathema?

I welcome your wisdom.

For a pretty good article by John Trent, church this out.

Milk … Allowed in the Worship Service? And the Senate!

We have had a rule at most of the churches I have worked, an unofficial rule of course. Many ignore it. Some stare at the rule breakers. I am told I should occasionally remind people of it. Often, I make fun of it. I even blatantly defy it at times. NO FOOD IN CHURCH. Now, I understand. Let’s keep it clean – we don’t want any spillage or stains. (For best effect, read with the accent of the Church Lady from SNL).

This week, I have been watching the impeachment proceedings. When I can’t fall asleep, I turn it on and quickly am nodding off to the droning. But I also have been quick to notice how there are some similarities to our worship services. And now you will too.

We want everyone to be there, sit still, and stay quiet. Really? Those pews, I mean the seats for the senators, look hard. The elected folks may not get perfect attendance pins like church goers of days gone by, but people talk about them if they slip out. I remember my mother pinching me to stop squirming and to sit still. And when she wasn’t around, I would crawl under the pews. Let’s go pew diving!

Now, me as a worship leader? I don’t care if you get up and lean against the wall, slip out for relieving yourself, or even whisper quietly if something needs to be asked. Can’t sit for long? Walk a bit in the back. I’ve told this specifically to those with medical issues. I don’t want disruption or confusion, but I would rather look out and see people alive than nodding off. So maybe no pew diving.

No electronic devices. For the longest time, these were taboo, distractions, and unappreciated. But in the past few years, with Bible apps, notes online, and keeping the kids quiet, these have become the norm. So, when I ask people to open their Bible, I don’t always expect the wonderful sound of page turning, but get the warm glow of God’s Word on their faces from the screens’ illumination.

I was at a Kari Jobe concert once, and she wanted to read Scripture; but her battery was dead. So she asked, “Can I borrow someone’s Bible, mine’s broken,”

But there are still people who think modern electronics should be left at a drop box in the foyer. Some churches have even used special paint with copper nano-tubing to block phone reception.

I’ve gotten and sent texts during worship (yeah, maybe that pushes the envelope). There was one service I was in where my wife was returning from an out of state journey. She texted during my sermon to let me know she was home safe. I jokingly told the congregation my wife was home so I would wrap this up. My chairman of the deacons said, out loud, “if that was all it took, I would’ve texted you 15 minutes ago.” You’ve gotta love it.

Be admonished, Remember Where You Are. Chief Justice Roberts has to admonish the legal teams to watch their language and remember the setting. In worship, there is the eternal pull between reverence and relevance. We want to be real, transparent, and connect to life … but we also want to is worship and we want to give God our best and the respect He (not the place, not the institution, and not me) that He is due.

And back to where we started, No Food in the Church Service. Senators can not eat. Nor can they drink anything but water and milk. Yep. Milk. It’s in the rules that milk is permitted. And interestingly, the Senate will provide water but you have to provide your own milk. Bring your white goodness and put your name on it and have it chilled in the Senate cloak room. It’s like a day at the office break room. “Who drank my milk? I’m gonna get that Cruz. Ted, didn’t you see ‘Schumer’ on the bottle?

I think Borden should get in on this and provide free milk to all Senators, cross the party lines, and get the free marketing.

However, I might petition for chocolate milk. Chocolate makes everything better.

Speaking of chocolate, there is one exception to the no food rule … in the Senate, it’s the candy desk. For over 50 years, this tradition has been upheld of a desk filled with goodness. Currently it’s the senator form Pennsylvania (home of Hershey’s and other confectioneers) … stocked to the max for a quick sugar fix by the 100 senators listening to lawyers. Senator Toomey stocks it with Hershey’s products, Three Musketeers from Elizabethtown, Peeps from Bethlehem, and Gertrude Hawk candies from Dunmore. Do they share with the managers and Chief Justice Roberts?

At my church, it’s Mr. Paulette … always having candy for the kids. I too have been known to share some KitKats a time or two.

It’s kind of scary that my mind goes to similarities between church services and the impeachment proceedings. But I also know the big difference. In the Senate, they are trying to remove the man on top, fighting for their ways and their party line. And who knows, they may succeed. It is a possibility and the constitution allows it.

In church, we may also try to replace the man on top (I’m not talking the preacher here, I’m talking the Big Man). We want our ways and will fight Him hard. And you may think you’ve replaced Him with your preferences. But you fool yourself.

There is no taking Him off His throne. There is no removing Him from office. He reigns eternally.

And for that, I will worship, I will dance, I will praise and celebrate, and I will give Him glory. At times, I will stand motionless in an awe of His greatness. And at other times, I will fall on my face in the presence of His holiness.

He. Is. On. The. Throne. — Forever.

Worship Him.

Overtime … Ain’t It Grand

The game was exciting. Solid defense. Explosive offense. Both teams were battling out and when time expired, the score was tied. They took it into overtime … the big OT. And as the cameras scanned the crowd, no one had gotten up and headed to the cars. They were staying there. They were excited. They were cheering and shouting and emotionally invested in what was going on.

You know what I mean, it is the thrill we long for. And no one complains.

But it is interesting when it happens at church. Go a little long … people look at their watches (even if they don’t have one). People tap their foot and get that antsy look. Some even go ahead and leave in order to get to Babe’s Chicken or Olive Garden before the crowd.

One time I was preaching on a Sunday morning and my wife was traveling back from a distant event all by herself. I can’t remember if the weather was bad or what, but I told her to text me as soon as she arrived home safely. A little after noon, I got the text while I was in the pulpit. I looked at my phone to read the text (smaller church pastors with unusual pulpit mannerisms can get away with some stuff TV preachers never can). I read the text and told the church she was home safe. I even joked, “I will wrap this up now since I know my wife is home.”

It was then my chair of the Deacons said out loud, “If I knew that’s what it would take, I would’ve texted you 15 minutes ago.”

Why is it this way? Why do we not care if a sporting event or a concert goes a bit long, but let the service slip 10 extra minutes and people are all talking about it while in line waiting for a table at Cracker Barrel? We even cry out for extra concert time … encore, encore, lift those lighter apps and show that screen light high. (most people don’t carry lighters anymore.)

Maybe one day, I will wrap up the exposition of the text, lay out those great tweetable quotes, get ready for the benediction … and then, the congregation cries more, more – keep on preaching, read more Scripture … and so on.

Every preacher can dream, can’t we?