"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16). With what frame of mind should one approach God's throne? Though we have free access to God through Christ, we must always remember that we are servants approaching the throne of the King of Kings. Approaching such a King should always be done with the utmost reverence. Sometimes when Christians assemble together for worship they are disrespectful in the presence of their King.
During a gospel meeting several years ago in Evansville, Indiana we had different speakers each evening. When the meeting was over, one lady told me she was a bit confused because it appeared that two of the men contradicted each other. One said that before services we should make sure we talk with everyone and make them feel welcome. Another man said we should come in the building and sit quietly. I understood the woman's confusion. Is there a solution? I believe we should greet our brethren and those who visit with us. But I also believe that before services begin we should find our pew, sit down and hush. I have observed men attempting to start the song service when people in the audience were still talking and passing the babies back and forth. In these cases, the audience was not only rude, but disrespectful to their King. Even those totally lacking in the social graces should be able to understand that when a song leader or preacher gets in front of an audience it's time to be quiet!
It used to bother me to see someone sleeping when I was preaching. But, I noticed that these same individuals could sleep through any sermon. I finally realized it wasn't the preachers it was the preaching that bored them. They had no concept of redemption and no appreciation for God's Word. If a speaker would get up and talk about fishing, hunting or how to get rich quick in real estate you would have their undivided attention. Sometimes people are on medication which makes them sleepy, but my concern is for those who stay up till 3:00 a.m. watching the late show!
"Sleeping saints" are a detriment to every congregation. They are a bad example to our children and those who might be visiting. Congregations should not use such men in their public worship. It's hard to tell your children to pay attention to the message when the man who helped serve at the Lord's table is sound asleep.
I have even seen a few "sleeping shepherds." Any elder who sleeps through the sermon is unfit to shepherd the flock. It is impossible for an elder to guard the flock (Acts 20:28-30) and stop the mouths of false teachers (Titus 1:11) when he is taking a nap.
It is with fear and trembling I approach this last subject: children. Children usually mimic the behavior of others. If they see their parents are unconcerned about worship, they will be too. We must teach our children to be reverent in the presence of our Savior (Matt. 18:20).
An older preacher once said that when children misbehave during services we should "Take them out, wear them out, and bring them back in." I wholeheartedly agree. If it doesn't work the first time, do it again. I still remember my father putting this into practice. When he picked me up and headed towards the "outdoor cry room," I knew I was in major league trouble.
Let us all consider our attitude as we come before our "High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens" (Heb. 8:1).