What to do After the Service?

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by Ryan&Amber2013, Jun 10, 2019.

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  1. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    I would like to hear some thoughts either for or against the stance of this author. After both services we normally fellowship for hours.

    "Then, after the service, we should go away as thoughtfully and reverently as we came. The custom prevalent in some churches, of lingering a moment in silent prayer after the blessing is very beautiful and impressive. Church-aisle sociability, so often commended, no doubt has its pleasant side; but it certainly has its disadvantages and its grave dangers. We may greet each other cordially and affectionately in quite tones as we pass out, without spiritual harm; but too often the conversation runs either into criticism of the preacher or the sermon, or off on trivial and worldly themes. In either case the good seed sown—is picked up by the birds and devoured before it has had time to root! We had better go away quietly, pondering the great thoughts which the service has suggested to us, seeking to deepen in our hearts, the impressions made—and to assimilate in our lives, the truths of God's Word which have fallen upon our ears.

    From the church gate back again to the closet whence we set out—is the best walk to take after the service has closed. A few moments of secret prayer will carry the blessings of the sanctuary so deep into our hearts that they will be thereafter part of our very life."
  2. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    How about lunch?
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  3. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Yeah, we normally have lunch as a church, and then have dinner with different members after evening service.
  4. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Who wrote that very idealistic piece? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Might work in a monastery, but. . .
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  5. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Lol, J.R. Miller. Known as one of the most godly, caring, and friendly Presbyterians of the late 1800s. He would remind me of a social butterfly after a service based off of what I know him, so I was surprised to read that from him.
  6. TheInquirer

    TheInquirer Puritan Board Freshman

    So when are people supposed to talk to each other?
  7. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I like his words.

    On any given Lord’s Day it’s friendly bombardment from the moment you walk in until the moment you leave.

    I would very much appreciate to be left alone before the service to prepare my heart; and I would like the small-talk to wait until our fellowship meal in the gymnasium, not for it to commence immediately after the service.
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  8. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Sophomore

    Speaking as one with two small children, I fully agree with him. I take it a step further and say the time before worship should be reverently guarded as well.

    There's nothing wrong with greeting one another, the how-are-yous, though we have to remember in the occasion of worship we've heard Christ speak by the mouth of a man in the preaching of the Word. I found for myself that I can be stirred by a sermon and then forget it because the conversation has turned to something else. Makes it all the easier to forget what was heard. The truth of events speak for themselves: we don't meditate, therefore we forget, therefore the blessing ends with the sermon. But in fellowship we are to encourage one another while it is still called today, and what better point to do that when we have all heard the same word spoken?

    Our pastor has rightly pressed us to make the discussion of sermons a priority when the sermon is over. And I tell you, sometimes the insights gained from discussion afterward are just as good as anything we heard in the sermon. Diligence in this area makes the Sabbath a great delight.

    If anything, the pastor has probably spent many hours preparing that 45-minute sermon, and he did it with the intention that the people would hear from God, increase in their faith, repentance, and be better equipped to serve God. The shepherd's love to his people is already one great reason why we should take immediate steps to ensure we digest and rightfully apply the sermon. Why waste the labors of the man?
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  9. Chad Hutson

    Chad Hutson Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree somewhat with the sentiments of this pastor, but also know the impossibility of curtailing people's conversations. My least favorite time is immediately after the service ends when the preacher is expected to stand at the exit and greet everyone on their way out. I found that this exposed me to people's complaints (too hot, too cold, why didn't you...fill in the blank with some irrelevant, inconsequential perceived requirement of the clergy) or to praise which could easily induce pride, or even just to hear people's conversations about everything but the things of God. For me, my most vulnerable time for either discouragement or pride is right after preaching a sermon, having expended myself mentally, physically, and spiritually.
    We have remedied this by having Sunday School (or small groups-whatever you want to call them!) after the worship service. People make their way to their respective classes, getting coffee or refreshment on the way, and sit and discuss the service while awaiting further instruction from the teacher. It serves as a "cooling down" period for me and an opportunity to keep the congregation focused after the worship service, if only for 45 minutes longer, as opposed to everyone going their own way. The elders, who teach the adult classes, tell me that oftentimes the class discusses the sermon more than the Sunday School material.
    As for me, I join a group of millennial age people in my office where we begin by taking questions (if any) about the sermon, and then I lead them in Bible study.
    In case you are curious, our worship begins at 9:30.
  10. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Good advice. In most of our churches it's the practice to sit quietly in the church before the service begins and to leave straight away for our homes after it finishes (of course there are the usual greetings and enquiries of how people are doing which is perfectly lawful). In our city congregations there is usually some conversation after the service outside (only because in such congregations the only time many people of the congregation see each other is at church). But it is startling how quickly any impressions made by the preaching can be forgotten in the shortest periods of conversation.

    A good rule is that spiritual conversation is to be encouraged and secular conversation avoided. In the past when people walked to church and often walked great distances it was the custom for people to group themselves together on the way and for the more experienced among them to lead the conversation in profitable matters (so says Dr. Kennedy in "Days of the Fathers").

    Back at our homes, over lunch and the course of the afternoon, we are in a different situation. But generally one should seek only to have spiritual conversation; secular affairs should be left to the other six days.
  11. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    As long as they do not block my way to the bathroom in the halls or clog up the aisles to start putting sound equipment away...
  12. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I think we could take some of this advice to heart.
  13. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    Much depends on the nature of a Lord's Day that a particular church regularly observes. And -it may be- that instead of avoiding others, we spur one another on to right direction in discussion. I am convinced if we spent last time on "social media," expressing all of our thoughts like stream-of-consciousness, our conversation on the Lord's Day would be far more guarded, filled with our meditations we had during secret worship, as well as profitable discussions about the sermons and readings from the Lord's Day services.
  14. TheInquirer

    TheInquirer Puritan Board Freshman

    Wouldn't loving people in your congregation include getting to know them and what is going on in their lives? How are you going to encourage them if you don't have an opportunity to talk to them?

    I think the sentiment of the original quote strikes me as extremely individualistic and narrows any proper post sermon activity to only thinking about the sermon. Is that really what God requires of us or is it adding commands that God has not given? I think introverts (myself included) would love this kind of thing so we can avoid social contact with others and reinforce the "just me and God" individualism that tends to be so prevalent.

    I understand the value of meditating on what you heard but to require it be done immediately after the service and in this manner - well, show me a chapter and verse to support it.
  15. Ben Chomp

    Ben Chomp Puritan Board Freshman

    Sounds like it would be a helpful thing to do but a harmful thing to mandate.
  16. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    We handle that by the preacher standing at the front of the church. Folks that want to speak to him have to affirmatively come up to him; folks that want to leave don't find the preacher blocking the main door. (Folks stand in the corners of the room if folks want to ask for prayer or have basic questions).
  17. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    That's a lot of folks.
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  18. Chad Hutson

    Chad Hutson Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, that is how we handled it as well. It only cost us one couple who left the church because they thought I was being unsocial/unloving.
  19. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Sophomore

    In our (tiny) church, nobody ever leaves right away. I'd be all alone if I stood by the door. Mind you, we do typically have great refreshments and people often sit around for a long time, engaging in all kinds of conversations, some overtly spiritual, others more general. It's called being family.
  20. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor


    Yes, it's a really big church.
  21. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    If you drive 30 minutes to church or more, only 3 times per week, then you should probably take advantage of the fellowship offered instead of making a no-talking rule as you file out of church.

    I went to a Reformed Baptist Church that had such a rule, no talking in the sanctuary before or after the service in order to be "reverent" and to honor the Sabbath. The result seemed to be a very impersonal and cold church body. But the pastor was proud and pointed out their silence, "Look at how serious they are." A week later I visited a very loud church in Georgia and the service started late because all the folks were talking too much, the pastor commenting, "Look at how them folks like to fellowship." Different values make people proud of different things.
  22. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    I believe this quote is very applicable in our “microwave” society. Although, there does seem to be more of a longing to have longer discussions as of late in our society, the point he makes remains. We should be mindful how easy it is to hear the Word of God, and immediately after turn to earthly or worldly discourse without a blink.
  23. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    It comes down to how we benefit most from a service of worship and also what is appropriate for a Sabbath.

    Is having a profitable conversation about what one has heard in the sermon beneficial? Yes and I don't see that condemned in the original statement. What I do see in the statement is the honest admission that conversation after services is very often, if not usually, not spiritual in nature but mere small talk. This is not conducive to benefitting from the sermon. And even conversations which are about the sermon can often be more about "analysing" or "critiquing" it, rather than aiming at getting spiritual benefit from what one has heard. Standing in a group of people, with others coming and going saying hello to each other, is not a good time to try to start a spiritual conversation. This is better had later in the afternoon in a setting without distraction and interruption and where one has more than ten minutes in which to do it. And where the conversation can be better controlled.

    You call it "just me and God" individualism, as if social conversation is somehow necessary to benefit from worship. Where does this occur during the worship service? It is corporate, but it is the minister who speaks and the congregation listens or sings. There is no chit chat in the pews during a service, there is no "group discussion" (in a Biblical church anyway) during worship. Corporate worship does not mean it's a workshop.

    Secondly, the Sabbath is not a day for casual socialising. Yes people in a congregation should get to know each other (to a degree: not every person will "know" every other) and we have six days of the week to do that. Now if you want to have a couple of people to your house for the afternoon between services for actual fellowship and breaking of bread together then that is something different.

    And can 20 minutes over tea and coffee after a service really allow you to "get to know" the others in your congregation? I don't think so. I think it feels like we're doing something when really we're not doing much at all.
  24. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    It's not appropriate for the Sabbath though. It's fun for the family to go to the park for a picnic and let the kids run around: not on a Sabbath though. I know it feels good and all "spiritual" to just let people do what they feel brings them closer to God and their "family" but that's modern therapeutic nonsense. Such notions have destroyed the Sabbath in our countries.
  25. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Sophomore

    I just realized the quote is advocating going directly home and meditating, not what I thought. I don't advocate that, though I can see it being best in some cases.

    Whose quote is it, what is the quote's context?
  26. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Sophomore

    I do remember maybe one or two times where we were instructed to simply leave and spend personal time in prayer over what was heard. The one time I remember clearing was back in October 2013 when Richard Owen Roberts preached. He finished, sat down, for about five minutes everyone was silent. A few people tried to start up singing the Doxology. It fell flat for lack of enthusiasm. One man started praying out loud. Paul Washer (slated to speak next) walked over and silenced him. Washer got up, simply said he could not possibly follow up on what was spoken, made a few comments, and then the director dismissed us to go back to our hotels for private prayer and meditation. Appropriate at that moment.

    I don't agree with the idea that we should default to leave and go home and meditate because of this passage:

    Hebrews 10:24–25:
    And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

    So, the assembling is for public worship, but also for encouraging one another. And given the whole book of Hebrews--the greatness of Christ's purchase for us, the excellence of His revelation beyond the Old Covenant time, the awe and majesty of Mt. Zion and its privileges and innumerable witnesses, the frightening seriousness of falling away in such an age as this one--it all demands that we encourage one another while we are met together. Another reason to prepare, so that we are ready to do this work too.

    And really, what are people's greatest needs? Ultimately they are spiritual needs, and the greatest of all helps is the brother or sister with the word in season. And those who are spiritually-minded will come to worship looking to encourage, and be encouraged. To some its an utter disappointment to come to discussions before or after, and the talk has been frivolous, trifling, as though the sermon had never happened.

    Really though, if someone comes to service, no one discusses spiritual things, and he is feeling dry and empty, feels disappointed, makes an effort to discuss spiritual things but it doesn't go anywhere, I can't say he is doing wrong to just pack up his family and head home. The day is for his good, and there's only so many hours left before he/she goes back to the daily grind. The Sabbath is for man, and for him in both body and soul. It's him that got robbed.

    I don't know much about Scottish history, but my own pastor says that it wasn't uncommon at one time for people to be discussing at the midweek prayer meeting the sermon they heard the previous Lord's Day. No rules or regulations laid out for themselves--it was just what they wanted to talk about. They were just so filled with God that the sermon lasted the whole week for them. Happy and grateful must those pastors have been!
  27. SavedSinner

    SavedSinner Puritan Board Freshman

    I like the Dutch custom: After the benediction, the minister stays in the pulpit and one of the ruling elders walks up and shakes his hand in front of the congregation. Kind of like the consistory's stamp of approval, I guess.
  28. TheInquirer

    TheInquirer Puritan Board Freshman


    Why can't "casual conversation" (difficult to know what you put or not put in that category) be spiritual? Everything we do is in relationship to God and in His world and what He created - whether it is the aspects of nature we enjoy, the work we do that contributes to His providential care of the world, the studies we engage in, or getting to know what is going on in people's lives so I can better understand, pray for them, or encourage them - how is that not pleasing to God or unfitting for a Sabbath?

    You talk about not being able to get to know people in 20 minutes - well, you can't get to know people real well in a couple hours either. It is all a matter of how you use that time (what questions you ask) and the fact that it all accumulates. 10 minutes here, 30 minutes there, over coffee, having people in your home - its bits and pieces that you learn over time that contribute to your understanding of a person.

    We typically stay for about an hour after church and I have all sorts of conversations and they are almost always beneficial in one way or another. The fact that I stop and listen to what is on people's minds shows that I care about them personally. This is one of the big problems in churches today - many people don't feel like they are cared for. Listening to them shows care. Listening also tells you a lot about that person and where you can minister to them at that point in time or down the road.

    I second everything Harley said along with his quote from Hebrews 10:24-25. That's what I was getting at in my "individualism" comment. It is easy to be so focused on our own spiritual benefit that we forget about the needs of others and how often God commands us to love one another, carry one another's burdens, exhort one another, encourage one another and so on.
  29. Chad Hutson

    Chad Hutson Puritan Board Freshman

    For me, the problem isn't that people converse with each other after the service, but rather what the subject of the conversation is. I have in mind those who, as soon as the benediction is given, turn to the person next to them and begin to discuss football, politics, gossip, and so on. I have no issue with conversations of genuine concern for the well-being of others, asking about medical issues and the like. Often these conversations lead to ministry opportunities or prayer concerns that we otherwise wouldn't know about. Meeting and greeting visitors and old friends would seem acceptable to me. These are the types of conversations that take place as the congregation exits to their respective Sunday School rooms, at least at our church.
  30. Chad Hutson

    Chad Hutson Puritan Board Freshman

    I met Mr. Roberts a few years ago when a friend invited him to speak at a local church. We have few Reformed churches in our area (our church is "reforming") so it was a brand new experience for me when he simply sat down when he was done. We didn't know what to do next, so we sat in silence. Soon, I heard sniffles, then sobs. I couldn't see what was going on, but as I learned later, a woman from a mainline denominational church became overwhelmed with a sense of sin and cried out for Christ to save her. She had been in church all of her life, but just then was God pleased to rescue her from dead religion and self-righteousness.
    Comparing that experience to the prolonged, music inspired, emotion driven altar calls that have been common in our area through the years I came to understand that when God draws a sinner unto Himself, He doesn't need our help. After Paul's sermon on the Day of Pentecost, he didn't beg the audience to respond, but rather they cried out.
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