Q.: Karen, I am often surprised at people who sit in church and text on their phones. I consider it to be disrespectful. Do you?
A.: Church should be a place where people go to pray, reflect and be attentive to the service. Texting during any service in church is not appropriate. It is distracting to those around you and says your phone communication is more important than what is going on in the service.
Here are some other guidelines for attending church respectfully:
•Dress appropriately. Make sure your clothes are in keeping with being in church. While it isn't necessary for men to wear suits and ties and women to wear dresses in many churches today, you still want to wear something that is in keeping with where you are. Avoid clothes that are too brief or too casual. If you wonder whether what you want to wear is OK, it probably isn't.
•Arrive on time. Arriving late, especially after the service has started, is disruptive to those around you. If you are late, choose a seat in the back so you don't disturb others. Church isn't the place for a grand entrance. And don't leave early.
•If the minister makes him- or herself available after the service, greet the minister and comment on the sermon.
•Keep your children under control. Taking your children to church at an early age can help teach them how to behave in a church. However, if they become disruptive, take them out. Use the cry room if there is one, but don't allow your children to run around. It shouldn't be used as a play room. If you bring toys, make sure they are quiet ones.
•Silence your phone before going into church. And if you do forget to silence it and it does ring, don't answer it.
•Refrain from eating, drinking or chewing gum in church. If you bring a snack for your children, make sure it is not messy, and be sure to clean up anything that is dropped on the pew or the floor.
•Follow the rules. If you are a guest in a church, be attentive to what those around you are doing and follow suit. Be sure you are aware of what is acceptable for you to participate in, like Communion, in another denomination.
•Be polite in the parking lot. Trying to edge someone out of a parking space or being an aggressive driver seems to defeat the reason people go to church.
Remember, churches are considered to be holy places and your conduct should reflect that.