Vol. 6, No. 9
~ Page 11 ~
This morning as I was scanning some of my favorite church of Christ web sites for articles and Bible outline ideas I came across a poem entitled "Preaching from the Pews." The subject of the poem was about the residue that we leave on the church pew after a worship service and the message that it conveys. I especially enjoyed it because I have witnessed this first hand. While regularly attending another congregation, Janet took on the responsibility of cleaning the building. From time to time I would help her with her cleaning assignments, one of which was to clean the auditorium. I speak personally when I say that I never really gave the cleanliness of the church building much thought; its only used about 3 hours a week and how dirty can a room get with that much use? Believe me it does get messy and we would do well to thank those who help keep our facilities neat and clean.
As I made my way through each pew, picking up various articles left behind by the folks who sat there during worship, I began a little detective game of sorts. You know, we all have a habit of sitting in the same spot during services; the only thing missing is a nametag. Because of this I already knew who I was picking up after while cleaning up the pews. Just like Sherlock Holmes or Detective Colombo, I picked up each piece of evidence, carefully examining it to see if I could determine this person's frame of mind during the worship period. Here's some of the things I would typically find.
A crumpled up church bulletin crammed into the songbook rack. Perhaps this person has discovered a convenient new trash receptacle that the rest of us never thought of using. A note asking, "What's for lunch? Wanna go out? Where?" Apparently the need to feed is a priority during worship. Wonder if this person skipped breakfast? Wonder if this person has ever fasted? Here's a songbook on the floor; someone must have missed the rack while trying to get the book back in the rack during the closing prayer.
A pile of Visitor's Cards filled with scribbles. A child probably needed to be entertained during the service, good thing the church leaders provide pencil and paper on the back of each pew. This person probably wishes that the cards were blank so that the child could develop his artistic talent more freely. Here's a nice new Bible someone forgot to take home. Looking inside to see who it belongs to, I realized that this person really takes care of his Bible; it was presented to him over 10 years ago, yet looks brand new.
Fingernail clippings. Enough said. Here's where the teenagers sit; there's always good stuff here. A note that reads, "Did you go out last night?" or "Are you still dating him?" I'm sure the Lord is most concerned about these important issues.
Gum wrappers, candy paper, here's a M&M mashed into the upholstery. Candy consumption probably goes up 40% during preaching. Candy companies probably use this information in market forecast. A newspaper! This person must surely feel the need to keep his worship up-to-date with the current news of the day.
Yes, even though I made a few pointed remarks, these are things typically found while cleaning the place where we are worshiping God. Folks, our worship to the Creator of all things is serious business! We must not take it lightly because Jesus said, "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:23-24). Not only are we to worship in spirit and truth, but we are to be examples to others. I know for a fact that we have those who are not Christians attending our services. And what about our new converts? What kind of example are we showing them when we don't take our worship time seriously? The apostle Paul told young Timothy, "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). This morning as you worship, think about the example you are conveying to those sitting around you. Are you singing? Are you praying? Are you reading your Bible along with the preacher? As you leave this morning, look behind you. What kind of evidence are you leaving behind? What message are you sending about your dedication to the Lord, because you really are "preaching from the pews."