Here are a few of my Ecclesiastical Pet Peeves:
Outside and in the parking lot:
- Un-mowed grass, un-trimmed bushes, outdated church sign, poorly maintained facilities
- Non-existent or unclear directions for visiting, elderly or physically challenged worshipers to convenient parking spots
- Poorly marked parking spaces or spaces too narrow for the average vehicle
- No parking lot attendants to provide information and assistance, especially for seniors and in times of inclement weather
- Absence of friendly, outgoing, well-groomed, trained greeters to welcome worshipers
- Lack of properly trained ushers to assist latecomers in finding a seat in the sanctuary or to invite latecomers to wait in the narthex until a natural and appropriate time to enter
- Printed orders of confession of sin that put what may not be accurately self-descriptive words in the mouths of worshipers
- Responsive readings that are pedantic and unrelated to the life experience of worshipers expected to speak those words
- Selection of hymns or songs that are very difficult, if not nearly impossible to sing
- Projecting on a screen the words of unfamiliar hymns or songs without the musical score
- Requiring worshipers to stand and sit, stand and sit, repetitively or unnecessarily—three times in one worship service should be sufficient
- Requiring worshipers to stand during a several minute prayer or for an unusually lengthy Scripture reading, even if it is the gospel lesson for the day—I can listen or pray to our Lord with greater devotion while remaining comfortably seated than if having to stand again after being seated only moments or sometimes even seconds earlier
- Absence of a friendly word of welcome by the pastor or other church leader that briefly explains the reason for worship and the central theme of the day’s worship service
- Reading of Scripture lessons by the pastor or other person without clear and distinct pronunciation or without the emotion demanded by the text itself
- Service leaders who pay little if any attention to personal appearance
- Shoes freshly shined
- Hair neatly trimmed
- Face cleanly shaved or, if you insist, beard/goatee/mustache neatly trimmed—Note to clergy and other public worship leaders: Compare the most recent photo of the motorcycle shooting participants in Waco or Mexican drug cartel leaders with a photo of the Fortune 500 CEOs or all but nine of the 44 U.S. presidents and see which group you most nearly resemble—I’m just sayin’ …
- Lack of explanation regarding the reason and purpose for gathering of offerings
- Non-existent practice of explaining in simple, evangelical and understandable words the reason for the sacrament of Holy Communion and what the Bible says about proper reception of this wonderful means of God’s grace
- Speaking or preaching in a manner that makes it difficult for people of all ages to hear and understand what is being said
- Slow down, you speak too fast
- Speed it up, you talk too slow
- Speak up, don’t whisper, we can’t hear you, you’re speaking to a crowd, not an individual
- Speak naturally, lose the pulpit tone
While I do actually agree with a few of them, what I am shocked by is how shallow most of them are. Really? This is what bugs you most when you visit a church? Well, I would put up with all of them as long as the Gospel was proclaimed faithfully, the Sacrament offered as Christ intended, and the liturgy observed reverently. I am often accused (falsely, of course) of being curmudgeonly but in comparison to this partial list of his pet peeves, I am as soft and cuddly as a Teddy Bear. There are few non-negotiables in my book. I do not complain about vestments or their lack, about pipe organs or other instruments or their lack, about hospitality or its lack. I do complain about unfaithful and lackluster preaching, without doctrinal substance and that fails to call me to repentance, to comfort me with the cross, and to send me forth to amend my sinful life by the power of the Spirit. I do complain about the liturgy led irreverently in which pastors insert too much of themselves and detract from Christ. I do complain when our catholic and evangelical identity so clear in the Confessions is absent from who we are on Sunday morning. But I will put up with almost everything else when these things are in place -- from a gathering of few to a packed cathedral. And I would hope the rest of us would as well. Don't use this list to choose a church -- listen, hear, and look. Is the Gospel being faithfully proclaimed, are you being called to repentance, is the Sacrament reverently and faithfully observed, and are you sent forth with a call to live as the righteous God has declared you to be?
To no surprise, the former LCMS SP's list of "Ecclesiastical Pet Peeves" did not include:
In the bulletin, church signs, church stationery, business cards, newsletters, books, articles, blogs, and personal introductions:
- The pastor refers to himself with the title of "Dr." when he has only an honorary doctorate.
Amen Pastor Peters! I was really taken back by the former president's pet peeves. Shallow is an apt description. He would certainly dislike the continuing Anglican church I attend. We violate most of his dislikes. But the Gospel is faithfully preached(some days better than others) and the Eucharist reverently offered each Sunday. I'll take that any day over his other pet peeves.
Here's an Ecclesiastical SP Pet Peeve: Puckering up to a syncretistic ass.
Which former president of the LCMS? There are two. Please identify. It is disappointing that his name does not appear. Best to publish whether this is Bohlmann or Kieschnick. It does make a difference,
Carl Vehse, I've seen you all over the blogosphere and mostly consider you to be a nuisance, but not in this comment thread. Well said!
I was really surprised by this long list of pet peeves, esp. the following ones:
1. Lack of explanation regarding the reason and purpose for gathering of offerings. Really? The Church must verbally explain this to you in every service? Surely you know its to pay the bills.
2. No parking lot attendants. Seriously? How about parking your car and following the crowd to the front door? Works for me.
3. Absence of friendly, outgoing, well-groomed, trained greeters to welcome worshipers. Really? I'm kind of shy and I don't enjoy speaking to "greeters." I'm intelligent enough to pick up a bulletin of the table in the narthex, let myself into the nave, find my own seat, and find my way in the service. Surely I can't be the only one.
4. I can listen or pray to our Lord with greater devotion while remaining comfortably seated. Really? Then perhaps you come become a Presbyterian or a Baptist and enjoy sitting on your ass to pray. Lutherans, however, have preferred to stand to address the Deity for over 500 years now.
5. Absence of a word that briefly explains the reason for worship and the central theme of the day’s worship service. Really? Are you THAT dense? Pay attention to the propers for the day, and the sermon and you'll figure it out.
Honestly, I would hate to attend a church that treated me like I was a little child and was incapable of understanding anything.
At the foundation of these pet peeves is the notion of "worship as evangelism". I once held such a view but in my first class on Liturgy (CUW extension course, studying with the DELTO guys, only I was pursing a certification in Lutheran Church Work) we were instructed otherwise and shown why "worship as evangelism" was an incorrect understanding of worship. There are a couple of millenia supporting what I was taught so far be it from me to think I knew better!
I think the Catholics have it right...post the mass times on the door and the Catholics and anyone else interested will come. How then to reach out to others? Feed them, clothe them, teach them...show them the light of Christ in these things.
I am not Catholic but I just got back from a vacation trip that included visits to Greece and Italy. The Catholic churches in Italy all had the mass and other service times on the doors. They were all open to visitors. In Greece, all but one the Orthodox Churches were locked shut, no Church posted service times anywhere so visitors had no idea when to come for vespers or liturgy. Now those were pet peeves for me!
"Projecting on a screen the words of unfamiliar hymns or songs without the musical score"
I agree with this one, even when it is printed in a bulletin without the music. I always like to sing, and I make of mess of it without the music.
"Face cleanly shaved or, if you insist, beard/goatee/mustache neatly trimmed—Note to clergy and other public worship leaders: Compare the most recent photo of the motorcycle shooting participants in Waco or Mexican drug cartel leaders with a photo of the Fortune 500 CEOs or all but nine of the 44 U.S. presidents and see which group you most nearly resemble—I’m just sayin’
er um what about some of our former synod presidents, judge them by their beards do you?
Expecting men to shave their beards is like expecting women to shave their heads. If a guy wants to shave, fine. It is socially accepted, but requiring it is creepy even misandry. I think beards are coming back as a statement that men and women are different,
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