Monday, June 13, 2011


Skye Jethani has written a blog post this week on the way in which we as 'church' regard those in our midst who are disturbances of some sort or other. He's discussing a situation in a church named 'Elevation' in which a boy with cerebral palsy was 'escorted out' (according to the mother) or moved to another part of the auditorium (according to church officials). He was a 'distraction' and the church's goal is "to offer a distraction free environment for all our guests."

As you might imagine, Jethani is disturbed by this attitude. Whatever the best intentions of the church are/were, his view is that church is a place where distraction is one of those things you put up with....because all the people in attendance are part of the family. Certainly it can be difficult for a minister doing his best to preach well to have someone in the congregation making a lot of noise (not that this boy was, apparently). Unwarranted noise can be an interruption to a well-prepared skit/drama/whatever sort of presentation.

But as Jethani notes: when I come freely to worship the Living God and gather with his people whom he describes as the foolish, weak, and despised in the world (1 Cor 1:26-28)--I do not expect a distraction free environment.

Church is not a cinema, a rock shop, a theatre, a performing arts centre. You might perhaps expect a distraction-free environment in any one of those places (although what you might expect and what you get aren't necessarily the same thing). Church is family, and in a family you put up with the noisy, sloppy baby, the irritating toddler, the old person heading towards dementia.

If we lose that, we're heading away from what church is about. Aren't we?


Scotty said...

I must admit that night services are often a place where young singles dress up and scope out each other. Then they find someone and move to morning service.

Other distractions include terrible singers standing next to you, the random shouters during the service, the Amens and preach it brother, interpretive dancers.

Koro Neil said...

CS Lewis says in Letters to Malcolm
"What pleased me most about a Greek Orthodox Mass I once attended was that there seemed to be no prescribed behavior for the congregation. Some stood, some knelt, some sat, some walked; one crawled about the floor like a caterpillar. And the beauty of it was that nobody took the slightest notice of what anyone else was doing. I wish we Anglicans would follow their example. One meets people who are perturbed because someone in the next pew does, or does not, cross himself. They oughn’t even to have seen, let alone censured. “Who art thou that judgest Another’s Servant?” – p. 10