10 Things Not to Do at Church This Weekend

I’m just thinking out loud today. In my 40+ years of full-time ministry, I’ve seen church attenders do things that aren’t helpful (not godly, even). Here are some of those:

  1. Go to church without preparing your heart. Instead, spend a few minutes in the Bible on Sunday morning. Pray. Confess sin. Ask God for His guiding presence as you listen and respond to the Word. 
  2. Bother your pastor with insignificant issues as he prepares to preach. There will be other times to deal with such issues. I’ve even written about this issue in a separate post
  3. Gossip about other believers. Don’t talk about others negatively. In fact, it’s wise to follow Paul’s advice: speak “only what is good for building up someone in need” (Eph 4:29). 
  4. Tear down the leadership. The time to gather with other believers and worship is not the time to deal with perceived or real leadership issues. Find a more appropriate time. 
  5. Refuse to sing because you don’t like the music. That’s usually nothing less than arrogance. I’ve previously written a post about this issue, too. 
  6. Ignore people you don’t know in the worship service. It doesn’t matter if the people are members or guests; everyone deserves a greeting. Indeed, even the godliest people will prayerfully consider leaving an unfriendly church.  
  7. Play games, check email, or text on your phone during the preaching. The Word of God demands our attention. If you must do so to avoid temptation, leave your phone in your car and carry a Bible with you to the service. 
  8. Choose not to attend small groups that meet on the church campus on Sunday. What many churches still call “Sunday School” is important for strengthening the fellowship all of us need. Choose not to go, and you miss an opportunity to grow. 
  9. Listen only for errors in the sermon. People who only fish for mistakes usually have a bigger issue with the one preaching. Pay attention to whatever the Lord wants to teach you—even through a pastor with whom you have issues. 
  10. Change nothing in your life after hearing the Word. Preaching should lead to life transformation in addition to knowledge increase. If nothing changes in your life after hearing a sermon, it’s possible you’ve not listened well. 

What you add to this list?


  • Whitney Timpe says:

    Hi Dr. Lawless,

    I have a question about #5. Usually my biggest hang up in worship is when songs don’t seem biblical or the song doesn’t actually praise God, but focuses on human experience. I don’t want to sing just for the heck of it, but because I want to mean what I am saying and praise God with my heart. But I recognize this might be a selfish preference. Do you think it is still helpful to sing songs that aren’t biblically or theologically sound?

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Great question. I agree it’s tougher to sing when the song is questionable theologically. I just think there are better ways to express that concern (e.g., a one-on-one conversation with the worship leader or the pastor) than simply not singing. I fear the latter choice only draws unnecessary attention to ourselves and is not the best way to express concern. Thanks for asking!

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