BJS has found this series of articles written by The Rev Mark Hein. He is in the process of updating them and they will be published here.
Church Etiquette? What is that all about? Aren’t there more important things our church and our pastor should be doing than promoting etiquette? Well, you decide for yourself how important and relevant is the information provided in this series. As you will see, what we are talking about is more than just etiquette far more!
Part 1 – The Importance of Etiquette
Church Etiquette? What is that all about? Aren’t there more important things we should be talking about, promoting, encouraging and urging other than etiquette? Well, you decide for yourself how important and relevant is the information provided in this series. As you will see, what we are talking about is more than just etiquette – far more!
In the dictionary, “Etiquette” is defined as,
“the rules and conventions governing correct or polite behavior in society in general or in a particular social or professional group or situation.”
If you look at a thesaurus, other words for etiquette are: good manners, protocol, custom, propriety and decorum. I think that we would agree that all of these things are important in our life – in our society, at home and yes, at church. When you think about it, etiquette separates us from the barbaric, the boisterous, the crude, the rude, and the uncivilized.
Sadly though, etiquette in all its forms is disappearing and, in some cases, is glaringly absent. What is the reason for its decline? Of no surprise, it is sin. That is the real culprit here. What is sin? It is unlawfulness. It is the act of transgressing. Sin is going against the will of God. It is going directly against He who is holy and righteous, He who would have us do all things with order and propriety, showing due reverence and respect.
If anyone doubts that the one true triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is the God of order, all you have to do is look at all that He has created. Look at the orderliness of our universe, solar system and planet. Look at all life here on earth. Look at the crown of creation, namely mankind and the human body. Everything screams “order” and “orderliness.”
An even better way to see the orderliness of our God is to look to His Holy Word. In addition to the inherent orderliness of what He created, look at the orderly way in which God created all things. Furthermore, look at the orderly way He commanded His people to live and to worship – all for their benefit and blessing. This includes the orderliness of our relationship with Him and our relationship to one another. Look at the structure He has established for the home, for society and yes, for the church, – the leaders and authorities He has set over us – all for our good.
It is no surprise that with the demise of etiquette has also come the erosion of order in our homes, churches and land. With the demise of etiquette has also come the absence of respect and honor for those in authority over us, beginning in the home and moving to the church and out into society. This includes the lack of respect for parents, pastors, teachers, policemen, employers… and let’s face it… a lack of respect in some cases for anyone and everyone.
As was just mentioned, it all begins in the home. What begins in the home? Really everything and that is the way God planned it. The way He designed, ordered and arranged it. It is where worship of the Lord begins. It is where teaching about the Lord and His ways begin. It is where learning about the world begins. And yes, it is where TRAINING and DISCIPLINE begin – namely, IN THE HOME. These things begin in the home and should continue in the home.
Put quite bluntly, the reason there is little etiquette being exhibited in the home, in our church and out in the world today is because, by and large, IT IS NOT BEING TAUGHT AT HOME!!!!! Yes, thanks be to God, there are many wonderful parents – fathers and mothers – who are taking the time to properly teach their children, to “train them up” in the way of the Lord and in that which is good and right. This includes teaching them proper manners… proper etiquette. But sadly, there are many, many more so-called “fathers” and “mothers” who are not teaching, who are not training. They are not doing it at all… or…. they are not doing it consistently or properly. They are referred to as “so-called fathers and mothers” because, by and large, they are a father or a mother in name only. Conceiving a child is the easy part. That makes you a biological father or mother – nothing more. Raising a child, taking the time, energy and effort to consistently TRAIN a child, DISCIPLINE a child is the hard part. And this is what separates real parents from play parents, plastic parents.
In the past, there use to be a wonderful “handing down” of our Christian faith, our Lutheran heritage and traditions, of proper ways, rules and orderliness from one generation to another. You taught your children as you were taught by your parents as they were taught by their parents and so on and so forth. Sadly, this process has been interrupted and we now have multiple generations who do not know what is right, what is good and proper. Can the situation be reversed? Of course it can. People of all ages and in every stage of life can be reminded or taught for the first time what is proper Christian etiquette. Teaching is not the hard part. It is a person’s desire to learn and their willingness to change certain behavioral patterns. If the desire and willingness are there, the information provided in this series will go a long way toward assisting men and women, teenagers and children in making positive improvements in their own lives, in their own home, church and society.
We pray – O Lord, we give you thanks that Your Son our Savior, Christ Jesus, is our Good Shepherd. We rejoice that in His precious blood poured out for us on the cross at Calvary there is forgiveness for all the times we have gone astray, each to our own way. Indeed, hear our confession and forgive us for transgressing Your holy will. Forgive us for all that we have done, said and thought that is not loving, proper or in good order. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, help us to change our ways that we may ever, always, faithfully follow our Good Shepherd in the paths of righteousness. May all that we do and say be pleasing in Your sight and to Your glory. This we pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The Rev. Mark H. Hein
Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church