Thursday, April 1, 2010

#136-Sitting/Standing in Church

Apostolics like sitting in church. Apostolics like standing in church. How do we enjoy both opposites? 

The answer is that we like each depending on the context. When we are standing up for the "reading of the Word" at the beginning of the sermon, we anxiously await the words of the preacher to instruct us in declaring "you may be seated."

So in such a context we love sitting.

However, at about 20 minutes- to 90 minutes after the instructions to "be seated" we somehow find ourselves acting as a flip-flopper (ala John Kerry 2004), and wanting to stand. At such an occasion, we anxiously await the words from the speaker for "the musicians to come while you rise in closing." So at such a time we love standing.

We enjoy sitting or standing in church depending on the context.

Those Who Sit while we Stand

But what about the frequent saints of the church who get somehow confused about this order. During worship service, they are seen plopping down for a seat after only a song and a half. However, more often than not, the people who are seen sitting during the standing time are those who liken to the WWII war veteran...they're usually in their 50's or 60's and are seen sitting down but we just assume that it's because of a bad back they are suffering through. Nevermind that these people have never actually done any actual service, we just all get to a point where we consider everyone who is receiving AARP subscriptions as war veterans. And as we know, war veterans can do whatever they want whenever they want and we will salute their behavior.

Those Who Stand While We Sit

And then on the other end of the spectrum, you have the people that stand up and clap and amen the preacher when everyone else is sitting down. Such a person is no doubt entitled to such action, but we well know that when people start standing up just for the sake of applause, we begin to get anxious, because one by one more people will feel obligated to stand as to follow the preacher's momentum (hopefully into a quick closing, but this rarely happens)....and eventually you know, that while it is very well sitting time (because the sermon close is not even in sight), you will feel compelled to be standing because of the reversal of fortunes.

I think the most confusing aspect of this standing/sitting debacle that plays out in nearly every church service is when the preacher is an advocate of "stand to worship/thank God for such and such preaching point" simply because you are never quite sure if the standing is for simple thanksgiving or whether or not the speaker is intending to tie the "standing to worship" straight into the closing.

Now i'm just rambling....I guess overall,...I think it's just very peculiar that when we are standing in church we are longing to sit, and when we are sitting, we are longing for the invitation to formally stand.

This post was inspired by Matthias Newman of Milwaukee, WI.


  1. Joel you say it's peculiar but be honest with yourself. When we are standing for the reading we want to sit and when we are sitting we want to stand for closing. These actions take place in a sequential order from earlier to later. Therefore the conclusion is that we aren't wanting to do the opposite for opposites sake but rather it's a subconscious (or conscious) desire to move the service along. We want to sit because then he has to start preaching and the sooner we stand for closing the sooner altar call comes and service ends. I know this because I have struggled with these desires from the time that I slept under the pew until even this very past Sunday.

  2. i sit through every service, and have accepted the fact that because of such behavior i am showing my unregerated nature to all the host of the saints! i also hear references throughout sermons referring to the "ridiculous" nature of the sitting down and standing ups in a Mass..about that time 5 people stand and say amen, then sit back down.

  3. I dont believe the standing/sitting issue is as bothersome as vainly attempting to decipher the message while congregants, standing or sitting,seem to be having a contest to determine who is able to clap the loudest and longest...

  4. Joseph,

    I completely agree. I can't believe I missed this point.

  5. sometimes a man just wants to hear what the preacher is saying...Jesus wasn't a screamer and the people were intently listening. Hmmm, all backwards today!