Even before I write another sentence I hasten to state that the opinions and views expressed in this article are solely mine, and are not in any way intended to offend any particular denomination, creed, sect or class. These are musings borne out of my many life experiences.
I dared to absent myself from church one Sunday (what a heathen I am) and I happened to tune into one of the services being broadcast. After about ten minutes of listening I had to engage both hands to lift my jaw off the ground, as without my permission it had slackened and descended in sheer astonishment. Let me explain why.
I believe that one of the biggest problems we have in the world today, be it at church or in the work place is ‘square pegs in round holes’. There are so many persons – be it for the desire for the glamour of the coveted position of ‘Worship Leader’, or a shortage of workers, or perhaps said individual was incorrectly ordained to the role – who have no business worship leading.
One of the first prerequisites of being a worship leader is the ability to sing and allow me to qualify that, the ability to sing well. Consequently, if a person is tone deaf, or unable to maintain a rhythm, I believe that is not the individual’s calling.
Some may say in the Bible it speaks about ‘making a joyful noise’, and that ’everything that hath breath [should] praise the Lord’. However, the congregation should not be subjected to music that sounds like a ‘clanging cymbal’, a ‘noisy gong’ or a lowing cow.
I turn my attention now to the speakers. Whilst there is plenty of room for use of Bajan in our services since after all we do live in Barbados, the assault to the ears with the ‘green verbs’ is more than a person can abide. We hear this in the notices, the greetings and all through the sermons. Whilst the primary goal of the sermon is spiritual edification there is no harm in the proper use of the various parts of speech.
I wrote in another article about being a proud Bajan and one of the things I love is our accent. Imagine my shock when I am sitting in a local congregation, listening to a local speaker only to hear a North American accent. I was stupefied and unable to reconcile what I was hearing and of course my ‘own-way’ jaw did its thing and slackened without my permission.
By the time I left that service (and many others like it) some time ago I felt as though I was vibrating, abuzz with an electric current sensation. Was it that I was so inspired by the Word forcefully brought by the speaker, and under the influence of the Holy Spirit? No! It was that I made the colossal error of sitting in line with the disproportionately mammoth speakers in the small church. For the remainder of that day I contemplated making an appointment to the doctor to see whether my ear drum had been torn. Thankfully in the Bible there is a verse that speaks to the fact that God is not deaf and I take comfort in this promise, and keep hope alive that I will still have my hearing in the evening of my days. Persons should be loved into the Kingdom, not shouted at until they feel they have no choice in the matter.
‘Render your hearts and not your garments’ is a verse that is often misquoted. Correctly it should read ‘Rend’ and not ‘Render’. However, especially for some of our modern day platform personnel, their choice of clothing should be rendered to God for approval before going to church. The courts of law, the Registration Department, the National Insurance Scheme office all have clear codes of conduct and dress requirements for entry. Whilst the church is not for the saved but a ‘hospital for the sick’, there must be some modesty in the way we dress, especially our females.
We in the congregation should not have the misfortune of glancing up to be subjected to a clear view of a bosom, cleavage or underarm deodorant. Neither should we be wondering whether there is one in our numbers proficient in CPR, as someone may be in need of such based solely on the tightness of articles of clothing. And whilst I love makeup it truly is distracting to look upon a face wearing layers of makeup placed with ‘clown-like’ precision.
And on the subject of the face shall we talk about facial expression? The looks coming from the platform can range anywhere on the spectrum from completely bored to sanctimonious and condescending.
There is much to be said regarding that delicate balance between planning a service and allowance for a move by God in the service, which I willingly leave to the experts. However, we go back to the Bible where it speaks about things ‘Being done in decency and in order’, and about ‘God not being the author of confusion’. That being said I firmly believe services should be planned and organized. One should not arrive at a service and see the Chairperson running around like a headless chicken, torrents of sweat pouring down the face, trying to choose songs, relevant Bible readings and persons to serve on a team. There goes that jaw again.
Lastly, whilst I have not yet read the entire Bible I have not come across where the disciples carried the Old Testament scrolls for Jesus, or wiped his brow whilst He was speaking, or offered to remove His cloak as it would be uncomfortable for Him as He pranced across a stage.
There are so many more things I can think of my friends and I have seen in churches across the island but I am constrained by time and propriety and a little apprehension at the possibility of stepping on the wrong toes!