By “pet peeve,” we mean only a minor disagreement. An annoyance. We find certain things irritating, but they are not deal-breakers. No federal case, no mountains from a molehill. OK to disagree. A personal thing is all.
One. The pastor rises to begin his sermon, and says to the congregation, “Will you stand in honor of the Word of God?”
It sounds noble. It is meant to inspire honor for Holy Scripture.
My question is: So, preacher, do you have them jump up every time you quote a verse of Scripture? Then, why do it at the first? And if you say this practice is scriptural, which it is (Nehemiah 8:5), then why don’t you have them stand up throughout the entire sermon? The Bible says Jesus sat down to preach (Luke 4:20). And somewhere it says the people stood up while he preached.
What it feels like—to me at least—is the preacher is trying to come across as holier than those who do not ask people to stand for the reading of the Word. He saw some other preacher do it and thought it was a good idea. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, only that it’s unnecessary and may be motivated by less-than-noble motives. But it’s not a deal-breaker. Do it if you feel strongly about it. (Ask them to stand every time you quote a verse, however, and this will go south quickly! Smile, please.)
Two. The preacher opens the service rebuking the congregation.
“Good morning, everyone.” They call out a response. Then he says, “Oh, you can do better than that. I said, GOOD MORNING!” And the congregation gives it a second try.
Or, he says, “God is good,” and the congregation answers “all the time.” Then he rebukes them for a tepid response to his noble declaration.
Better to say it and move on, preacher. Never begin a worship service of the living God by rebuking the worshipers.
Three. The layman who gives a testimony goes on and on and on.
If you’re going to invite an inexperienced speaker to share in the service, pastor, have someone work with him/her in shaping their message and holding it to its time slot. The typical layman has no idea how fleeting time can be when speaking to the congregation. I’ve seen them open with, “They’ve given me five minutes…” and 10 minutes later, they say, “In the time I have remaining….”
Four. Too much talk before a song.
In most cases it’s a guest singer who introduces their song with a story. And almost in every case, it was unnecessary. In fact, it detracts from the effectiveness of their presentation.
I know why they do it, and you do too. They’re nervous and a brief time of talking will ease their jitters. But they should practice going straight into their song without the banter. A good worship leader will help prepare them to do this. (And will caution the singer not to talk. The preacher will do the talking.)
Five. The person praying forgets he/she is praying on behalf of the congregation.
They say “I pray” and “I ask” and “I make this prayer.” Someone has misinformed them that “you cannot pray for everyone,” or something to that effect. But our Lord taught us to pray “Our Father,” “give us,” “lead us,” “forgive us” and so forth. When praying before a congregation, you are praying on behalf of everyone. So, it’s we and us and our.
Six. The deacon prays “as we take up this offering.”
The problem is only a half dozen men are “taking up” the offering, while a hundred or more are “bringing our offering.” So, the prayer should be “as we bring our offerings today….”
Seven. The invitation is tacked on to the end of the sermon.
The pastor preaches his message and only after finishing it does he mention that “we are inviting you to confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior” or to join the church. For a visitor or newcomer, this would be the first mention of the invitation. Best to mention it earlier in the sermon so people can be prepared.
Eight. The children leave the sanctuary before the sermon.
As the children are exiting—presumably to something called “children’s church”—I think to myself, “Hey, that’s my group! I want to go with them!”
Leave the children in the sanctuary. Let them learn to worship alongside their families. And of course, let the pastor remember the children are in the room and include them in the sermon.
Nine. The song service takes up so much time, people are tired when the pastor rises to preach.
This is my opinion—as are all of these. But ideally, the song service should occupy no more than 20 to 22 minutes, after which the pastor rises to preach. Put the offering after the invitation, next to the announcements. That way, everyone is still fresh when the Word is opened.
Ten. People end their prayer with, “In Your name we pray.”
Show me that one in Scripture. It’s not in there. We are encouraged to pray “in Jesus’ name,” although most prayers in the New Testament do not use that formula.
What it feels like when someone says “in Your name we pray” is they want to leave Jesus out of it. And that’s always serious business to some of us.
That’s my list. What did I leave out that you would have included?
This article originally appeared here.