Church Going
The culture of disregarding norms has reached the inner sanctums
of holiness throwing old assumptions under the grind of progress
“Do not open your mouth in church unless to sing, receive
sacrament, and say a respectful Amen.” Those were some of wise words of my
grandmother the first time I whispered in church right after she let me know
that there was a very hot place that awaited people who disrespected God by
talking in church. It stuck in my young mind mainly because her sermon was
served together with a very sharp pinch to the thigh and I still find it hard to
say anything in church even if we are asked to do so by the reverend.

This story came back to me recently when a colleague was
narrating an incident in church; during Mass to be specific. The three women
behind her decided to use the two hours to catch up on each other’s lives and
went as far as posing for a picture. Now that last one I am sure would have had
my now deceased grandmother to beseech God to hurry that Judgement Day upon
this disrespectful mortals.
But alas it is not the worst of ‘crimes,’ for lack of a better word, that
people commit in church. At the risk of sounding like those nostalgic people
who talk of the good old days, I will compare church etiquette in yester years
and how we generally carry on today.
Goodbye Sunday bestStarting with the “Sunday best,” which consisted of carefully chosen modest
clothes is almost history, with the pretty much anything-goes wardrobe of
today. Back then strutting in in noisy kakondos (high heels) late in church
could easily have brought the service to a halt, as easily as certain if
someone walked in and shouted I am Satan.
Tempted to get the juicy details
Moving on to talking. Even before the pinch incident, I had never dreamed of
actually talking in church. There was a kind of reverential silence the grownups
observed, that you would not dare interrupt, which is why I had arrived at the
decision to whisper only to realise God also did not like that.
Not everyone had a grandmother like mine to guide them, and
others simply do not care. A friend confesses: “It is not like lightning will
strike you if you as much as squeak.” She adds that she takes situations as is.
“A long-lost friend slides into the same pew, do I just keep staring straight
ahead? We at least exchange pleasantries in muted whispers of course,” she
argues. In your average church service it is clear some people do not see the
harm in tittering or murmuring if something necessitates that response.
Wait a minute as I check my FB
Since phones were on desks and attached to walls, comparing this one will be
hard. Fiddling with the phone, scrolling, texting and updating statuses is
something only generation iPad are guilty of. Now the excuse is scrolling for
the Bible app, or sharing the good news one is hearing to other fellows who did
not make it to church on Twitter, but if we were to speak with all honesty, we
know at least one person who checks messages, scrolls through missed calls and
uses the quiet time to perform such mundane tasks as deleting obsolete messages
in the inbox.
The list is long including things we do not think twice
about like chewing gum, to downright disrespectful like actually picking up a
call, never mind that the conversation is hushed. Bottom line: people get away
with all this and more in church.
Why are church goers likely to do these things? Has God
relaxed his standards, or so shallow is our attention span that we cannot pay
attention for two or three hours or are we no longer afraid of fire and
Church is not a hang-out
According to Pastor Solomon Male of Arise for Christ, the
answer lies in the reasons people go to church today which he lists as:
“socialising, to be seen that they have gone to church and because it is
something they are used to doing every Sunday.” He continues: “People have stopped
relating to God on a personal basis and very few attend church services to
understand and commune with God,” he says in explanation.
But this still does not explain where all the irreverence
stems from. Rev Abraham Kisakye, Chaplain to the Bishop of Namirembe diocese
acknowledges that there is a notable laxity in the way people behave in church.
“In the past we took learners through the dos and don’ts in church. The
training on what was not acceptable started at home and by the time one grew up
they were steeped in this moral strictness. The gospel is a contributing
factor, rather the bits of it that are championed today.
In Kisakye’ s view the whole ‘God looks at the inner man’
teaching while correct promotes a certain school of thinking where people just
disregard outward signs of devotion forgetting that the outside also reveals
what is going on inside. Male thinks the prosperity gospel has a lot to do with
how people take church today. “It is not lost on the congregants that some of
their spiritual leaders have lost the sense of purpose,” he says. 
this loss of focus is what presents as people being less and less respectful of
So God has not adjusted his standards at all. And yes that
means thinking twice about what you will wear, and switching off that phone or
at least putting it in silent mode for the duration of the service.
Source: Daily Monitor


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