Just as we sing together and worship together through the preached Word, we likewise engage in a time of silent prayer and confession together. In our silence we are confronted with our guilt before God. In our silence we are humbly bow before the throne of our sovereign God in a posture of dependence and worship.
We are conditioned by noise. In fact, we are noise junkies. We have noise around us almost from the time we awake in the morning until we drift off to sleep at night. We hear road noise in urban settings. We enter a shopping mall and hear a roar of people’s voices echoing off of the walls and ceiling. As we drive down the road we have noise coming from the speakers in our automobile. If we travel by plane, a flight attendant walks down the aisle and hands us a little bag with ear buds so that we can listen to the movie on the screen in front of us. We are not only conditioned to noise, we are addicts.
In fact, many people are so addicted to noise they sleep with the television on or with some white noise app on their phone to break up the silence. We see people walking down the sidewalk, in the elevator, and at the coffee shop with air pods in their ears listening to music, podcasts, or watching videos. Life is filled with noise. Noise, noise, noise—that’s the sound of life.
According to the pragmatic playbook of church growth, the last thing that a church should do in order to grow and make visitors feel welcome is to intentionally design a worship service that would make people feel awkward. The typical evangelical worship service is designed in a manner that keeps people engaged. From the time of arrival with background music and flashing messages on the screens—there is little to no time for reflection.
That is one of the reasons why we have an intentional time of silence in our worship service. For those who are not accustomed to it, the moment catches them by surprise. Suddenly, they are encompassed by that awkward silence. The reason it makes some people feel that way is due to the fact that our daily activity has conditioned us to find comfort with noise. I chuckle when I look at the white noise app on my phone and see train noises. If you’re conditioned to sleep near train tracks, I assume you need train noise to be comfortable while traveling.
More Than a Moment of Silence
Our time of silence during our worship service is more than a moment of silence. As we arrive on the Lord’s Day, we engage in fellowship and conversations between our Sunday school gathering. However, when the prelude music begins, that’s our sign to bring all of the conversations to a close and to intentionally prepare ourselves for the public reading of God’s Word as we are officially called to worship. That is a time of intentional preparation and reflection upon the importance and privilege of worship, but it’s not silent.