M. Norvel Young
Los Angeles, California
(Ed. Note: The following article appeared in the Sept. 21, 1961, issue of the Gospel Advocate. We feel the thoughts therein deserve sincere consideration by many today.)
In several business meetings I have listened to varied suggestions on how the worship could be shortened–"use more trays" “use an auxiliary table in the rear," "omit a song," "cut the sermon," "omit all announcements." In all this thinking there seems to be the underlying premise that a shorter service is a better service–that efficiency means more efficacy.
Are we rushing through our periods of worship so that we may hasten to feed the poor, to preach to our neighbors, to lift up the heathen? No, we rush so that we can get to a tasty, sumptuous meal or so that we can watch our favorite TV program, or take a nap or read the secular paper, or play golf or go on an outing. If none of these attract us we may rush because we are nervous and have the habit of doing everything in a hurry.
We sing, "Take Time to Be Holy," but we are too busy to take time to meditate, to praise, to listen to the word of God in a relaxed atmosphere. There is pressure by the more worldly members to "pay our respects" to God in the smallest capsule of time possible. Movies and TV programs are getting longer, but periods of worship are being compressed. Why? Is it because we are so spiritual that we don't need more time to become holy? Or is it a lack of appetite for spiritual food? Do we hunger and thirst after righteousness or do we fret when the Lord's supper takes more time than a newscast?
Time is precious and we should "redeem the time." Our periods of worship should be planned so that our worship will be most effective. Time should not be wasted, but "efficiency" and "cutting" do not really save time if they reduce our exposure to God and multiply our exposure to the secular world.
Let us take time to be holy–time for more spiritual songs, for sermons that are long enough to move the sinner and edify the Christian. Let us take the time to promote activities of the church which will build us up in the most holy faith–time for Christians to exhort one another about giving and living. Time for meditation on the meaning of the Lord's Supper. Time for silence to be still and know that God is with us!