We sometimes wince when Christians commit the following mistakes. But we cringe when they make the following mistakes during the worship assembly. If you are a member of the Lord’s Church – especially if you teach class, make announcements, read, pray, or lead the communion of the Lord’s Supper – please consider the following observations. Some just don’t know any better, and we sympathize and love them. We all have room to grow (especially me!). So, where can we start?
1. John wrote the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Please keep “Revelation” in the singular, as John did (Rev. 1:1). There is no need to ever say “Revelations 3…” (Though it may give you several revelations!).
2. While we are talking about extra S’s, please remember that the book of Psalms in the Bible contains 150 psalms. Each chapter in the book of Psalms is an individual psalm. So even though we call the book “Psalms,” when directing the audience to turn to a specific psalm, you will only want to say “Psalm 23” or “Psalm 119,” never “Psalms 23” or “Psalms 119.”
3. Jesus is not talking about the Lord’s Supper in John 6:53-58. Rather, He is using the unbelieving Jews’ reference to manna as a metaphor for how His teachings need to be internalized to be effective. So, please do not ever [ever, ever, ever] use this text to prepare the minds of those in attendance for the Lord’s Supper.
4. Following the same theme as the last point, singing “Break Thou The Bread Of Life” in anticipation of Lord’s Supper is also a mistake (though I doubt you will get struck by lightning). The song is not asking Jesus to serve us the Lord’s Supper, but to feed us the Truth of His Word.
5. The second verse (unless the editor has removed it from your hymn book) of “Jesus Is Coming Soon” is premillennial. While I think poetic license permits us to sing “Jesus is coming soon” (so long as we acknowledge in reality, He might not be coming soon), the second stanza contains flat out error. It reads: “Love of so many cold, losing their home of gold, this in God’s Word is told, evils abound, when these signs come to pass, nearing the end at last, it will come very fast, trumpets will sound.” When we sing about “signs” pointing to the ‘end times,’ we are teaching that there will be signs that indicate when Jesus will return again – which is error (Matt. 24:43; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10). R.E. Winsett, the author of the song, was openly premillennial and a member of the 7th Day denomination of the Church of God.
Remember, God wants His worship to be in truth (John 4:24). Therefore, if a song does not harmonize with the teachings of His Word, He will not accept it.
6. Please do not use the phrase “other denominations.” Just say “denominations.” Saying “other” suggests that we – the Lord’s Church – are a denomination (just like the Baptist or Methodist churches down the road). By saying “other denominations,” you have single-handedly undermined the work of countless Christians before you who have diligently tried to restore the pre-denominational Christianity of the New Testament Church.
7. To the same tune as the last point, there is no need to refer to someone as being “Church of Christ.” I, nor you, should ever want to be “Church of Christ.” There are Baptists, there are Catholics, and there are Lutherans, but there should not be “Church of Christers.” We should only be called Christians, since that is the title we find in the New Testament. All New Testament Christians are members of the Church that belongs to Christ.
When we say someone is “Church of Christ,” we are again single-handedly undermining the efforts of our faithful brethren in past generations who fought so hard to restore the primitive Christianity of the 1st century Church. In fact, it is a good practice to describe your congregation with a little “c” rather than a capital “C” (this is merely a scruple of mine). Doing so serves as a little reminder of our identity. Since the church I am blessed to minister to aims to be distinctively pre-denominational, I tell people I preach at Cedar Springs “church of Christ.” We don’t have a name; we just have a description. We are not a flavor of Christianity; we are a congregation (or church) of the one Church started by Christ (Matthew 16:18; Eph. 4:4).
8. When leading a prayer, remember that clichés and vain repetitions have been out of style since Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:7. If you can find it in you, try not to use common prayer phrases like “guide, guard, and direct,” “nourish our bodies,” “bring us back at the next appointed time,” etc. While I am not questioning your mindset when you use common phrases like these, I know it is exceedingly easy to fall into the rut of not even thinking about the words we pray. It may not be your problem, but it is a human problem. Praying needs to be deliberate, so try mixing your words up in the future. Make your prayers uniquely yours by praying from the heart, not parroting the prayers you heard growing up.
9. Concerning public prayers, please do not pray “be with those who are sick of this congregation.” I do not think it means what you think it means.
10. Please do not call the preacher the “pastor.” He’s probably not a pastor, and if he is, he is certainly not the pastor. Pastors, or elders, are always mentioned in the New Testament as a plurality. And unless the church has appointed the preacher as an elder because he meets the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, he is just a preacher. Let’s make sure we are doing (and saying) Bible things in Bible ways.
When we come before the Throne of God in corporate worship, we are – even at our best – unworthy. I understand some of these mistakes may be small matters (while others may point to larger matters) that make little difference in our walk with Christ. But as a humble servant of God, you will want to keep learning His Will so you can offer your best at every worship service (Col. 3:23).
What else would you add to this list of things people often don’t have the courage to say?
(Your comments are welcome and encouraged, even if they are in disagreement. However, please keep your comments relevant to the article. For my full comment policy, click here.)