Proverbs 22:6 has been a guiding principle for godly parents for 3000 years! "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." I think that should include how we behave in worship.
I have been looking out over church audiences for a long time. yes, I do see a lot of what goes on during a sermon. A lot of it is good and some of it not so good.
Let me address the issue of folks talking to the people around them during worship. Not being particularly interested in what is going on in a group setting is not uncommon but talking to others shows a lack of common courtesy. This is not a problem unique to churches. I have witnessed such rudeness in college classrooms, music concerts, safety briefings at airshows, PTA meetings, and yes, in churches. Private conversations disrupt everyone around and prevent pothers from hearing properly.
When this is done by adults at church with children around them, as it often is, these children are being taught by the adults example that this is a time to talk and not to listen.
Certainly there are times when parents need to correct their children during worship and immediately issue some brief instructions or even threats! But that is far different from the people who choose not to participate in what is going on and decide to carry on a conversation instead.
But there are also some parents in every service who are both modeling good behavior and diligently teaching their children to pay attention to where they are and to the seriousness of worship. I see them too and smile inwardly at those fortunate children. On Sunday morning, August 30, I was handed an attendance card after the sermon. I had preached directly on the 23rd Psalm. A precious young girl came up to me in the foyer and when she looked me in the eyes, said with a very serious face, "That is my favorite verse."
I'm sharing her artwork with you. That card is now added to my permanent collection of treasured thoughts I keep in my desk drawer. Thank you Bailey! It's a favorite of mine, too!
- Tim Orbison