Manners to Know Before You Step Inside a Church in the U.S.

Manners to Know Before You Step Inside a Church in the U.S.

Being polite and respectful should be the natural state for humans. Unfortunately, that isn’t so for everyone.

Because of that, what should be common knowledge and etiquette has to be enforced as rules.

A church is a sacred place of worship that deserves a high level of respect and reverence. It’s sad to note that not everyone seems to be privy to this fact. Unruly behavior at church ruins the experience for everyone present.

If you’re a church-goer, ensure that you maintain the highest level of decorum. Here are some of the rules that should not slip your mind.

Practice Punctuality

Being late to church on occasion is acceptable, but you cannot make it a habit. Arriving at church after service starts is a highly impolite practice. Proper planning is necessary if you’re going to make it on time.

For families with young kids, leaving the house can be a struggle. 30 minutes before you leave is when someone’s dress rips, or dad burns the toast, and it all goes downhill.

Try to rise early on Sunday morning and keep breakfast simple. If you know that someone takes a longer time in the shower, plan according to that.

Remember, if service starts at 9:00 A.M., you need to be in your seats by then. That’s not the time you should enter the building. Give yourself some wiggle room for parking time and dropping the kids off at Sunday school.

Stay Silent During the Service

In many churches, you are only supposed to speak during the Fellowship. So, even if you get to church early, you are expected to stay silent and reverential. 

At other churches, the congregation socializes right until the sermon begins. If you’re a new member of the church, then follow the lead of the patrons. 

If you do catch someone speaking during service, don’t make hurried shushing noises at them. Be polite, but firm when you request them to keep it down.

Using Gadgets in the Church

Don’t. It’s as simple as that.

The church should not be where you catch up on the news or read your emails. Even if you’re waiting for the congregation to settle down, fight the urge to pull out your phone.

For many people, a church service is a place to engage in introspection. It helps them get a bearing of their mind, and find a connection to God.

This connection cannot happen when your ringtone begins to blare in the middle of the service. All phones should be put on silent or do not disturb. If you think you won’t be able to keep your hands off your phone during service, don’t bring it into the church. Keep it in your car.

Do not answer your phone in church. It doesn’t matter if it’s your boss calling you to talk about your raise; don’t answer. The call can wait. Some people justify the practice by walking out to take the call, but getting up in the middle of service is just as rude.

You can use your phone or tablet to read The Bible in most churches, but ensure that the device is on silent. You will also need self-control to keep you from wandering into other apps.

Don’t Eat in Church

You should not eat in the church, especially when a service is underway.

If you have young children with you, fill up their tummies before the service. It’s not only a cause of disruption for you, but it is also highly irritating to all those around you. Imagine the sound of someone chewing away while the whole room is silent. Not pleasant, is it?

Receiving Communion Should Not Look Like a Cafeteria Line

If you receive Communion during the service or mass, it is an act that should be done with utter reverence.

Don’t chatter away while you’re standing in line to receive the Communion. Stand in respectful silence and in reverence of Jesus Christ.

How to Handle Children  

Sitting still for an hour is a difficult feat for kids. They are being made to sit still and listen to something they likely don’t understand, when all they want to do is run outside and play. That’s easy to sympathize with. 

Most churches have a cry room for these kids. When you sense that your child is getting fidgety or going to get loud, take them away to the cry room. Most cry rooms will have a TV or speakers to allow parents to continue listening to the service. 

Bring a coloring book or a similarly quiet, but brain-stimulating activity for the child. This will help keep them occupied, and not be an inconvenience to others.

If you are caught between a frazzled parent and an agitated child, try to be considerate to the parent. Don’t yell at them to take the child away. Be kind and gently remind them that there is a cry room for exactly this purpose.

Dress In Appropriate Clothing

Some churches are more casual than others. You might be used to dressing formally for church, however, you might show up and see others in jeans and t-shirts. 

The proper attire depends on the church and the congregation. If you are unsure what to wear, going more formal is always a good idea. It is better to be overdressed than underdressed.

In America, women usually wear dresses to church. Ideally, the hemline of your dress should fall beneath your knees. Women can also wear loose-fitting pants and a blouse.

Men should follow a similar neat and understated look. Button-downs or polo shirts are acceptable. Wear full-length pants that aren’t too tight.

Remember to be patient for the first couple of visits. Don’t be discouraged if no one talks to you. Once you’re comfortable, you can start making conversation with people and join a new church community.

Not All Churches are the Same

Depending on your faith and the congregation you choose to join, the rules and way you are expected to behave can vary greatly. Some modern churches are extremely casual, others are boisterous and celebratory, and still more are traditional and solemn. Take the time to observe how other members of the congregation act and dress. After a couple of visits, you’ll know the best way to fit in and get the most out of the service.

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