Monday, August 22, 2011
Sleeping in Church
It was with a loud squeal of the pipe organ that the organist accidentally woke up the congregation from their naps. I felt bad for the lady as she was not our usual organist--she had retired from that years ago and only substituted when we needed her--after all she was in her mid-70s! It was a warm morning and the air was heavy as the congregation listened to me preach . . . and preach . . . and preach. The organist sat dutifully at the organ waiting for that moment when it was her turn to play the next hymn, but she was fading fast. Like a bobble-head doll one could see nodding until she suddenly went down--head first! Her head landed on the keyboard with a squawk of noise--loud noise! It woke everyone up from the sermon induced naps.
Napping in church is nothing new--there is even a passage in the New Testament which tells the story of the Apostle Paul preaching on and on until a young man fell asleep, fell out the window perch he was sitting in, and died. Luckily the organist was more embarrassed than hurt and no one died, but it did wake a lot of folks up from their naps. Napping in church is one of the oldest traditions in the church!
One of the reasons I went into the ministry was because I figured that if I was going to have to sit in a crowded room and listen to preaching I might as well listen to the drone of my own voice than someone else. Also, by being the preacher it makes me have to stay awake during the service. How often have you ever seen a preacher fall asleep during his or her sermon? See, being the preacher means you cannot partake in the ritual of napping. Because of that I try to keep my yawning to those songs in which the congregation cannot tell whether I am yawning or singing. There is nothing worse than a preacher sleeping in church:
I have no problems with people sleeping in church--they are just doing what I wish I could do. I do not get offended if I hear the occasional snore--they probably need the rest, and besides, I see it as a form of ministry I can provide the congregation. What I do tell congregations is that if they do fall asleep during worship to remember to utter the word "AMEN" upon waking up. This will make the people around them think that they were in deep prayers. How to explain the snoring--Holy Spirit!
As I stated though, I have no problem with people sleeping through the worship service. In fact, napping might do more for those individuals than a sermon--might be more beneficial in the long run. At least if I am reading the literature correctly--napping is good for a person. According to an article Inc. (http://www.inc.com/articles/201108/sleeping-on-the-job-should-your-employees-take-naps.html) napping can boost one's productivity and efficiency, make one healthier, and actually live longer--a short five to ten minute nap can do that. It can even make one happier and more bearable to be around--that is every preacher's dream!
Having read this article I now have the evidence I need to actually encourage folks to "come to church and nap with us!" It will be a new form of evangelism--Nap Evangelism. Instead of giving visitors fancy coffee cups with a picture of the church on the side, we'll give out embroider pillows to assist in the napping. We can remove the pews and put in Lazy-Boy recliners and couches--anything to draw the drowsy in. For those traditionalists we can create a sleeping room or divide the sanctuary into "sleeping" and "non-sleeping" areas. Whatever the case, we can be hospitable and accommodating towards our tired friends. You see, a whole new frontier for ministry!
I imagine if I had had this ministry back when the guest organist had fallen asleep and hit her head on the keyboard of the organ she would not have been so embarrassed. I would have done my job--I put another one to sleep for the glory of God! Need rest? Then come to your local church. I invite you to take part in this exciting new ministry--whether it is at the church I serve or some other church. I promise you I will do my part--I'll preach! And all God's people said: Amen!