A Time To Be Silent

Mark Dever argues for intentional silence in worship services

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Diane Heeney's picture

I love silence...and I don't think it is only attributable to the fact that I have 3 young kids. Smile I love silence in worship. Many Sunday mornings I arrive at church already "rumpled in spirit" because of the morning's commotion (socks get lost and cereal gets spilled primarily on Sunday mornings at our house, it seems)--I need time to focus my heart for worship. I also like silence during the offertory. I believe congregations need to be educated in this...that this is not time to catch up on Saturday's doings with your neighbor, but to prepare your heart. What's more, it is inconsiderate of the pianist who has prepared this offering to share. I like to be able to think about the words to the song being played. I'd trade five or ten minutes of silence for the "run around and shake hands song" (we don't do that at our church, btw) any day. In our generation, with so many "conveniences" that allow us to be followed by noise and demand everywhere we go (cell phones, pagers, blackberries, blueberries... Wink ) it is hard to find a quiet niche. Genuine solitude is so strange to us anymore that it has become a tangible thing.

One of my favorite worship spots is up at our Bible camp...nearly 9,000 feet up, and a six mile drive off the highway, through the forest. You can sit on the steps of the lodge, admire the craggy rock face towering before you, with only the sound of wind in the pines (and an occasional elk bugle or coyote). Gorgeous, unadulterated silence. A person can think there.

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Greg Linscott's picture

Quote:
I also like silence during the offertory. I believe congregations need to be educated in this...that this is not time to catch up on Saturday's doings with your neighbor, but to prepare your heart. What's more, it is inconsiderate of the pianist who has prepared this offering to share. I like to be able to think about the words to the song being played.
To be be clear, Dever is proposing silence even beyond this- no music or anything else.

We have implemented something similar to what he mentions here over the last few months- in the bulletin Order of Service, I call it a "Moment of Meditation." It consists of about 30 seconds of silence after the benediction is offered. People have been trained to be silent and consider what they have just heard and affirmed in song, and not to leave until the pianist begins the postlude.

We have also eliminated "howdy time," Diane. Smile

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Diane Heeney's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:
Quote:
I also like silence during the offertory. I believe congregations need to be educated in this...that this is not time to catch up on Saturday's doings with your neighbor, but to prepare your heart. What's more, it is inconsiderate of the pianist who has prepared this offering to share. I like to be able to think about the words to the song being played.
To be be clear, Dever is proposing silence even beyond this- no music or anything else.

We have implemented something similar to what he mentions here over the last few months- in the bulletin Order of Service, I call it a "Moment of Meditation." It consists of about 30 seconds of silence after the benediction is offered. People have been trained to be silent and consider what they have just heard and affirmed in song, and not to leave until the pianist begins the postlude.

We have also eliminated "howdy time," Diane. Smile


Yes, and I'm all for it! I'd love to walk into the church auditorium prior to the service and be greeted by silence, folks reading, praying, meditating...or, just prior to the message, instead of a "special"... or instead of an invitation, to have a few minutes to consider what's been presented. Great idea.

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Greg Linscott's picture

At CHBC (Dever's church), they actually have pre-service congregational hymns (lyrics provided in the bulletin) that are sung (without a songleader or anything) between the transition time between Sunday School/"Core Seminar" time and the service. It does make for an effective preparation time, at least the one time I was there to see it.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Norm's picture

The more I read and hear from Dr. Dever, the more I like him. Very smart, godly man. Much to my chagrin, I missed the chance to hear him in person in Louisville last month.