Distractions can be SO annoying. They can cost an athlete a gold medal, a driver her concentration, a teacher his students’ attention, an executive a sought-after advantage, a mom her sanity, a concert-goer his enjoyment.

I remember sitting in a high school auditorium, intent on enjoying the music on stage (our son was playing in Symphonic Winds) while a guy and his girlfriend directly behind me did their best to ruin the evening by talking before and after everything. And during!

I wasn’t there to hear them recount play by play all that happened since they saw each other (two hours ago!), I was there to hear the Symphonic Winds! Their non-stop conversation made it almost impossible for anyone within earshot to really enjoy the evening. What a distraction!

Distractions can divert or derail public worship just as easily, and in the next few posts I’m going to suggest that we can eliminate many distractions with forethought, and quiet, intentional determination, beginning with those who prompt the congregation to worship, and spreading to the entire congregation.

I’ll propose a simple definition for distractions as they relate to public worship, then explore several ways to reduce their number.

In preparation here are a pair of questions to consider:

  1. Do the people assisting with the liturgy -literally “the work of the people”– know the purpose of each segment of the service?
  2. Do those prompting from in front and those in technical control booths know what things contribute to appropriate focus? Do they also know what things detract and distract?

It’s important they do or we’ve just invited that couple behind me to join us in the chancel!

Part 2—