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Stop Saying That
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By Roger Hernandez
 
I have been going to church for 46 years. Almost 47, if you count the nine months in my mom’s belly. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I understand that what I’m about to say is highly subjective, but it is still something that needs to be said. Whether anything changes or not is irrelevant. I love my church, even when it is less than perfect. But would you please stop saying these things?
 
 (By the way, no deacons were harmed during the writing of this article)
 
Good Morning: It goes something like this: “Good morning everyone. (“Good morning,” says the congregation). “I can’t hear you, GOOD MORNING (louder and firmer.)” The congregation increases the volume. This is usually enough to placate the person with the microphone, except when it doesn’t, where the “Good mornings” are followed by “Didn’t you eat breakfast this morning?” or the always nice “Hasn’t God been good to you”. Here is a tip: Just say “good morning,” smile, say your part and sit back down. We love God. That is not measured by our volume.
 
Now as We Begin: This usually happens after the initial song service, which begs the question: What were you doing for the past 15 minutes? The truth is, many times song service happens with no rhyme or reason, is a filler, or something we do while people get there. I don’t believe that practice honors God or inspires people. By the way, song leader, if you’re going to ask for member’s favorite songs, make sure you know more than 10 hymns!
 
Wherever Two or Three are Gathered: This usually happens when few are in attendance (Think Sabbath School, Prayer Meeting or the beginning of AY). What this communicates is pity, rather than power. It’s a disastrous message to send to guests. Think about it. Who would like to join a group of people that feel so bad about themselves? God is present where there are two or three, but the most common application this text is given is not really what the Bible writer intended to convey. We are not victims, and the “Poor little ol’ me” has no place in the house of the living God.
 
We Will Sing This Song Twice: Why? That’s all. Why?
 
Pray for Me, I’ve Lost My Voice: Again?
 
The Inspired Pen: First of all, God inspires people not writing utensils. That is “insider” language that we understand but visitors do not. These and other popular “Adventese” expressions are not limited to the one listed here. We use phrases like GC, AYS, ABC, GCC, Conference, Union, Division, and a host of others that if not explained can create a puzzled look in guests’ faces at the worship service. Speak English, Spanish, Korean, etc. Not Adventese.

Lord, Please Hurry the Steps of Those Who Are on Their Way: What does that even mean? Are we down with teleportation now? One important fact we sometimes forget is that just because a person is late does not mean they are less spiritual or don’t care about their relationship with God. There could be a host of reasons why people are late. I am an early arrival. That makes me prompt, not perfect. By the way, a smile and a hug for late arrivals.

Without Wasting Any More Time: This one is used a lot in Spanish churches. The person who is introducing the speaker, after taking all the time in the world, says “Now, without wasting any more of your time, we will have our guest speaker preach.” The question I have is, how about all the other parts of the service? Was that a waste of time or just your part, the long drawn out introduction?

Can I Get an Amen?: No you may not. Jesus will. You won’t.

May the Lord Add His blessing to the Reading of His Word: This sure sounds great. The only problem is that it is said so much it loses meaning. At the same time, there is an intrinsically determined blessing that comes along with the reading of God’s word already. This phrase, along with several others we use, takes a simple concept and complicates it. Here is a thought: How about just reading the Scripture for that day, and sitting down or praying. Don’t add anything just for the gratuitous amen.
 
Spanish is the Language of Heaven: No it’s not. It’s Farsi. Please stop saying this. I want to jump off the third floor of the GC when I hear that.
 
These are small details, I know. But if our goal is excellence in everything we do, we must get better. Let’s work together to make the worship service a memorable experience for everyone.

Roger Hernandez is ministerial director for the Southern Union Conference. You can follow his blog at Lead Southern Union Ministerial