How many of your churches who advertise their “Divine Service” begins at 11 am, however, the “Word”, (preaching), doesn’t seem to begin until Noon, if not later?
One of the problems I had sitting in church is in dealing with “preliminaries”. TOTALLY NOT NECESSARY and especially so after having read the following quotation:
“Do not divest the truth of its dignity and impressiveness by preliminaries that are more after the order of the world than after the order of heaven. Let your hearers understand that you hold meetings, not to charm their senses with music and other things, but to preach the truth in all its solemnity, that it may come to them as a warning, arousing them from their deathlike sleep of self-indulgence. It is the naked truth that like a sharp, two-edged sword cuts both ways. It is this that will arouse those who are dead in trespasses and sins.” –Testimonies to the Church, Volume 9, page 142.
It is defined in this way: “an action or event preceding or preparing for something fuller or more important.”
Let’s talk about “preliminaries”, not necessarily in the order in which they occur because churches seem to have their own procedure.
1. Announcements – what’s the purpose and benefit of them and in some churches can take more than 15 minutes to read what has been handed out, probably, in written form when entering into the sanctuary. If people state, “They won’t read them…” then they ain’t listening when they’re being touted from the Sacred Desk. Stop printing them and save your money.
2. Music – I probably will raise the ire of many for my following comments. What’s with the need to have a “Congregational” hymn, followed by “special” music and the music of “inspiration” before the sermon? Somewhere, somehow, Seventh Day Adventist churches have decided to copy the world’s church with their “Praise and Worship” service which is more music by a select group of people more for the purpose of “raising” the emotions than one of actual praise. Never mind the fact this can go on for an additional half hour if not more.
3. Offerings – It is bad enough to have a time when the “deacons will come before us” and if you belong to a large church, another 20 minutes is swallowed by the collecting of the “tithes and offerings” and God forbid they have a need to make another collection. Thankfully, our churches haven’t, I hope, taken the lead from the Missionary Baptists of having people to get up from their seats to bring their monies to the collection plate up front. I like the way it is done when I visited Frederick K. Price’s church in Los Angeles. They have you deposit your monies in a slot which is sent to the Treasurer’s office without the fanfare of “wasting” time. And, oh, did I mention about MORE MUSIC necessitating the collection, generally upbeat to cause one to feel good about opening their purses and wallets!
4. I’ll combine the next one – Children – when did it become imperative to have “Children’s Story”? Never had it when I was growing up and we’re none the worse for the lack. Another twenty minutes swallowed up and, yep, of course, there’s the combination of “music” to call them together and then sending the innocents out with “baskets” for that additional collection, and MORE music for when they’ve finished. Also, the “Child Dedication” and let’s call it what it is, a “service”. I’ve seen some ministers who’ll take more than 15-20 minutes and forget-about-it should there be more than one child to dedicate. How many of you remember your own dedication? Yep, you got my point. So, who is the service for? Almost as ridiculous as having a birthday party for a one-year old with all the noise and fanfare, monies spent for food, clothing and reserving a facility, yep, some go so far, even catered. How many of you have seen video or photos of your first party?
I would like to add more and will leave that one up to you since I don’t want my post about “preliminaries” to be as long as they are in church. The most important part of any worship service is the “Word”. THIS is what convicts and causes people to have genuine heart-felt changes, NOT the preliminaries. Those who seem to have their change of life during them, unlike the preliminaries they won’t last as long!
July 8, 2016