Two Profound Sides of the Church Etiquette Discussion

We are getting some profound comments on Pastor Hein’s post on church etiquette. It has sparked insight on both sides of the issue. First we have “Dutch” reminding us that we ought not to be Pharisaical in our approach to church etiquette. In response we have “Junker Jorg” taking us into the heart of his conscience for an uncomfortable look the old sinful self’s desire for anything but etiquette in church.

Here is “Dutch’s” comment:

8. I agree, but to a point. Parents of children with the host of developmental delays (once was me), elderly who have no one to care for them but live alone, people who may not have been taught morals or values, etc, do not wear signs above their heads for all to see. I have attended Lutheran churches around this world, and this article & comments do seem to have a very narrow & shallow view of what members and visitors “should” be. From the inner city Lutheran church in London, where homeless, prostitutes, & tourists outweighed the members, the small & closed in Lutheran church in Germany, where deodorant is unheard of, am I starting to make a point here? For my part, I would rather sit next to any of these, than sit next to an individual, who I know outside church, who forgets their Faith and how to they WERE taught to live once they leave the service. I know why I AM THERE, and I would like to think, that is the same reason THEY ARE. The outside dust cover, isn’t important, what is written on the heart, the part our LORD is aware of, that is what counts. Before we begin to focus on the blemishes in our brothers, let us first focus on our own, the ones that are not seen by human eyes.

Comment by Dutch — July 12, 2009 @ 7:56 am

And here is “Junker Jorg’s” comment, not necessarily a direct response to “Dutch” but certainly showing us the other side of this issue. (BTW – “Junker Jorg” is a great internet handle – it was Martin Luther’s alias while his friends were holding him up in the Wartburg Castle for protection from the Emperor.

14. Church etiquette involves rules and law and order, so sinful men like me are quick to rebel against it. I want a religion that revolves around me. In my religion I want to sleep in late, throw on yesterdays clothes and go read the Sunday morning paper at my corner Starbucks. If my wife won’t let me do this, I at least want to be half as comfortable as she drags me to Sunday morning services.


But then I get to her stogy Lutheran church and I, in my self centered religion, am made to be anything but comfortable. I have to sit on that hard wooden pew and then stand and say with everyone else that I am a poor miserable sinner. This does not massage my, god like, ego at all. After this I have to ask God for forgiveness and mercy. What kind of god am I. Then I hear the pastor tell me I deserve eternal punishment in hell because of my sinfulness. Get me out of here. I don’t want to be polite. I don’t want to be kind. I just want out of here. If I have to go to church I at least want to go to one that doesn’t make me feel so uncomfortable. I want to be at ease in my demeanor and my sin. Tell me about what I am doing that makes me such a good person. Give me a coffee, a lounge chair and some soothing music sung by a beautiful woman and I can adapt to your religion. Let my family play comfortably as if we were in our own living room or better yet give me a free babysitter for my kids so I can better enjoy the entertainment going on up front.


I know, I know. This is way over the top. Maybe one in a million men in church are as evil as me. It’s just too bad because I like your nice Jesus, but I don’t particularly care for the one who has zeal for His Father’s house and gets angry when people go there to be about something other than prayer. I don’t know if I like a God of order who won’t let me be disorderly. I can’t tolerate a God who demands perfection and also wants me to put my neighbor before myself. Let him sit up front If he wants to hear God’s word, and pray and thank and praise Him.


Wait, what is this I am feeling? Guilt? Can’t be. I got rid of my conscience years ago. Is it fear? I don’t like this. I am getting really uncomfortable now. What do I do. I am having a panic attack. I am afraid of an eternity of suffering in hell. Who can help me get out of this awful predicament I find myself in? Who can save me from this body of death? Lord, to whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life. He died on a cross for sinners like me. Keep sharing that sweet and good news pastor. I am now declared righteous before God on account of Jesus. When I die I will be with Him in paradise. Let me move up front. I want to hear more of this. Let me eat and drink His body and blood, for He is good. Thanks be to God for the mercy he shows to me.

Comment by Junker Jorg — July 13, 2009 @ 12:36 am

You can see the original post and all the comments here.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Two Profound Sides of the Church Etiquette Discussion — 3 Comments

  1. Meine liebe Bruder Junker Jorg,
    (mein Deutsch ist sehr schlecht, Entschulegung Sie bitte! Auf Englisch bitte, Vielen Dank!)

    I want to go to your wife’s church!! My husband & I have been praying & searching for just such a one, for over a decade! When I, wrote, “I know why I AM THERE”… WHAT YOU WROTE J.J.(E.S.B), is why… I AM THERE!!! Okay, with a bit of tweeking, no Starbucks, papers, I like wood pews, kids playing-NOT DURING GOD’S TIME IN MY PRESENCE, and the…ahh,… singer thing. But seriously, your post is what is in MY mind when I cross that threshold of the churches, we now visit.

    One in a million men, BY NO MEANS, YOU & I, (40,a girl, but my little boys think I must have lived in Walnut Grove, for the way I speak, and those days are just a happy memory & great story) ARE NOT, two in a million, OH NO, MY DEAR FRIEND, we are PART OF A MILLION OTHERS! Let’s pray and by His Grace, His Mercy, His gifted Hope, that both our comments, have made a difference!!!! They, in my mind already have! As they, our hearts, eyes, and Spiritual minds, are both posted here!!

    (Zu mein Bruder: Junker Jorg
    vom: deine kleine Schwester Dutch,im Jesu)

    Zu alle, Im Jesu Immer Alweg,

  2. Dutch,

    Greetings. I am afraid that while I have borrowed Dr. Luther’s alias, I do not share his multilingual abilities. I wish I had your bilingual gifts, but I am afraid I struggle enough with my own mother tongue. I did enjoy trying to translate your words and I think I may have gotten the gist of some of them. (Maybe, Kind of) 🙂 Thank you for your kind words.

    Discipline and etiquette do not come naturally or easily for me, but I know they are very important. They benefit me and more importantly they are a gift of God which helps my neighbor. I have to fight the urge within me that believes it is better for my neighbor and me to have the philosophy “live and let live.” Or is it “live and let die?” In other words to believe and act however I want to, and you can believe and act however you want to act. This seems like such a tolerant and loving way to exist, and it is the easier path to trod for a sinner like me. But is it loving? No, of course it isn’t really loving. When we have been given a bit of discipline and have been taught some etiquette, it is loving to share the benefits of them with those around us. Of course we wouldn’t do this in a rude or harsh way. That wouldn’t be very polite or loving, would it?

    Our problem is that as you say, “we are PART OF A MILLION OTHERS.” We are indeed sinners, each the worst. Even as we desire to increase etiquette among the brethren for all of our good, we can easily fall into Satan’s trap of selfishness and make it about our own good rather than about all of our good. Lord have mercy and may He lead us to share His truth in love. He is worthy to be praised for the grace, mercy and peace He provides for all of us through His cross.

    By the way I have to laugh at myself for writing “stogy Lutheran church.” It should have been “stodgy”, although a stogy does sound good to me right about now.

    Your bruder in Jesu,
    Junker Jorg

  3. Auf Englisch Bitte mein Bruder im Jesu!

    Hello my dear J.J.! Knowing German(psaltry knowledge), and seeing how many on this site use the language, I just assume those who use it, know it, forgive me, the FAULT was MINE!!! And believe me, my relatives & friends over there KNOW I speak and write like a 4 year old!! I cannot think quickly enough to speak to my friend’s 5 year old! Think “slop Deutsch” half english, half german. LOL

    How ironic, you & I think so much alike, as really, we truly do! There is hardly a day that goes by, where I do not struggle with a lack of understanding about what you just posted. “Why, is it so difficult, so frightening, to confront or correct, a wrong frame of mind or behavior?” It would seem, (with assumption here), that you & I are on the same page. We always hear, “don’t sweat the small stuff”, which is true, to a point, but…”we must not be afraid to do what is hard, (yes is so much easier than no), when it is done in love for another”. You hit the mark with what you said, “live and let die” we cannot be afraid to do what is difficult, as, eternal life is at stake, also, it is acceptable to admonish, correct, encourage or rebuke. And…at the same time, do a self check, to make sure we are not doing this to avoid looking at what rots within ourselves first!! (chief of offenders though I be). It is the coin principle. I have been to over 15 different countries, and never, have I ever held a one sided coin. Now try to find one in all known history. Two different sides, same coin. One needs both to make the one. You & I seem to be the example of this. You cannot have, use, or make one without the other. You, as far as this medium allows, I would say, speak of fearful respect, accountability, and consequences. Oh, those sweet words, bygone, fear & true love for the Author of our Faith & respect & true love for another! I speak of the finer points, empathy, compassion, and sympathy, not as this realm knows it, but as we are instructed by His Word. All, and I mean all, are necassary to complete the Loving Commands our Lord gave all of us. I dwell in a realm of,
    “why are you afraid of conflict and consequence for speaking out for what is good, right and true?” Truth, by your post or mine & it’s nature, may sting, as is right, but neither side we speak of, is wrong, as both are required. To participate, in any way, with what placates or pacifies to avoid conflict, is wrong, as is pointing out what others are, look like, or do before yourself is wrong. Same thing, different circumstances. As well, within ourselves, fallen & sinful flesh, and within, also dwells what Christ Himself, has claimed as His. We battle this every day, and we see it, wherever our “eyes” follow. Is there a midline? OH YES, but how difficult and narrow the Way! If I only focus on others, I do not look at myself, and if I only look myself, I cannot see anyone else. Two sides, same coin. I do hope, that other who may stumble on this article, may comment. You & I, dwell in a realm, in which we do not feel a part of, PRAISE GOD, but, do have do follow our Lord, to be Light and Salt. You & I, can see both sides, I wager, and we wait on the Author of our Faith to share with us where to go. I wish and pray others, do the same. Just curious, what is everyone’s discernment on the Book of James? I know what I see, but I am just a “jane q member”. Kind of tells me what I AM to do and not do. Again, just curious.

    Im Jesu Alweg,(In Jesus Always)

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