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Dos and Don'ts of Church Etiquette

Updated on November 3, 2015

Author's Note: Imagine reading this about sitting in church only to find that the article has been stolen from the original writer. IF the web address begins with "hubpages" then you are reading it from the original author, which is me, Deborah Carey, and please continue reading. If the web address begins with anything else, please report this article to the site's administrator as a stolen work. I apologize for asking this of readers. I have been unable to get cooperation from the thief. Many Thanks. Now......on to the article:

Imagine sitting in church, listening to a sermon that is addressing something you have been wanting to know and the lady behind you answers her phone. You can't hear the pastor, you missed the point, couldn't get the scripture and became totally aggravated! What ever happened to the simple, basic etiquette that people observed for centuries? A few simple dos and don'ts of church etiquette can make church more pleasant for everyone.

Churches come in all types, shapes and sizes.  These simple dos and don'ts of church etiquette can make them a pleasant experience for anyone attending.
Churches come in all types, shapes and sizes. These simple dos and don'ts of church etiquette can make them a pleasant experience for anyone attending.
A church service is a vital source of encouragement and support for people who may be dealing with life and death decisions.  Respectful behavior is essential.
A church service is a vital source of encouragement and support for people who may be dealing with life and death decisions. Respectful behavior is essential. | Source
Many church foyers have screens in the foyer where you can view the service while quieting a chatty or crying child.
Many church foyers have screens in the foyer where you can view the service while quieting a chatty or crying child. | Source

Some Simple Dos and Don'ts

  • Do dress appropriately. This doesn't mean you must wear high heels and diamonds or suits and ties, but it does mean that short shorts and flip flops should stay home. Typically ladies and girls wear dresses, skirts or dress pants in most churches. In some churches today it is not uncommon to see all types and styles of dressing. Jeans and T-shirts might not only be acceptable, but may be common at a church. However, if it is your first time to visit this church, you may feel more comfortable in a dress casual outfit. That would be slacks and a polo shirt for the fellas and a blouse and skirt for the gals. If the church is actually one which adheres to a more traditional dress code, you will feel less out of place. One note for the ladies is that many churches are air conditioned due to men wearing suit jackets. You may want to take a light sweater for those dresses with straps or short sleeves. A final note on the ladies, cover up the cleavage. It is NOT attractive, it is considered more slutty than sexy here. A simple shrug or sweater is an easy way to make the sundress more appropriate. Be respectful and respectable.
  • Do turn off your cell phone. Nothing is more disrespectful to any speaker than to have someone's cell phone ring unless it is when they actually answer it! Make sure it is on silent. In the quiet of church a phone on vibrate can be heard. Texting and talking should be saved for outside of the church. If you are anticipating an emergency call, sit on the aisle near the back and quietly slip outside and answer the call.
  • Do take out a crying or screaming child. A sermon can be something which is truly about life and death. It may be an encouraging and uplifting sermon which is so desperately needed to make it through the next day for someone. A crying or tantruming child can be a huge distraction. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love children and they can be taught to play quietly during church, but sometimes they have needs that must be addressed immediately. Go ahead and address them - in the nursery or bathroom. Take them out quickly and with as little fuss as possible and when they are calm, bring them back. Even cute and adorable children may need to be taken out. Everyone loves a child, but they should not be a distraction in church. I once had to remove a sweet, darling little girl, my daughter, because she was playing peekaboo a bit too loudly. It was cute and everyone was smiling, but it wasn't the place for child's play. It was more important that those around us heard the sermon.
  • Don't fall asleep in church. If you are that tired, stay home. Better yet, go to bed earlier on Saturday night and it won't be an issue! If you absolutely struggle to stay awake, it is rude to the speaker or pastor. You can make an effort to stay awake by doing small things to keep your mind awake. Sit up straight. Take notes. Wiggle your toes. Chew gum. Consider the principles presented and how they would apply to your life. These keep your mind moving and help to keep sleep at bay. It would even be better to get up and stand at the back of the church listening than to fall asleep in the pew. If you know this about yourself, plan ahead and be prepared to be respectful. Many churches also have screens in the foyers where you can watch the service while quieting children. It is also a great asset for those who are volunteering as greeters. It's better to view the service from the foyer than to fall out of your seat asleep!
  • Don't talk to your neighbor in church. You may have something important to discuss with the person sitting next to you, but save it for after being dismissed. If it is life and death, then go to church early and talk beforehand. If it isn't......wait. It is rude and inconsiderate to those around you. It is likely that not one person has come to hear your personal business conversations - keep them personal. There is one sweet elderly lady in our church that loves to comment on the sermon as it is being given. It really is supportive of the pastor, but as she is hard of hearing, it is very loud and often disruptive. A simple, "Amen!" would be more appropriate. It would even be appropriate to wait until the sermon is over and tell pastor how much she enjoyed the sermon! Most pastors don't get that kind of positive reinforcement and would love to hear it!
  • Don't make unnecessary noises. Tear off your check before church. Unwrap your cough drops beforehand and place into a kleenex. Put the children's snacks into a ziploc plastic bag. Adjust the velcro on your shoes after church. It is surprising how the little things are so very loud and disruptive. Take a moment and prepare for a respectful and meaningful time. Before you leave your car, you know if you will need these kinds of things available. Be prepared.

Most Important Points To Remember

  • Do go to church! It is the most important thing you can do in your life. Yes, that is my opinion. If you go and you listen with an open mind and heart, then you will share my point of view here!
  • Don't let all this keep you from going to church! When it comes down to it - this is all simple lessons on being polite and respectful. They are not requirements for attending any church. If you were to go to a business meeting with Oprah Winfrey, you would want tips for being prepared and how to act while you were there. These are the same type of tips. It is a meeting with the Lord. Be prepared, go expecting and be ready for learning important things for your personal life and death decisions. You won't be sorry you went.

Distraction Poll

What distracts you MOST in a church setting?

See results

Text Copyright 2011 Deborah M. Carey *updated 2014

Share Your Thoughts And Comments

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    • prektjr.dc profile imageAUTHOR

      Debbie Carey 

      7 years ago from Riverton, KS, USA


      Thank you for your kind words! It really can make the difference! Thanks for reading and God Bless!

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 

      7 years ago

      Prektjr.dc, I think that having good ettiquette when it comes to worship is a good idea. Afterall we are there to worship God so putting your best foot forward is a good idea? I think that stressing that we the people are the Church and the building is a place that is dedicated to be a gathering place for the Church is also a good idea as well...

      It is interesting to me that today many will dress up to go everywhere accept to worship. You are free to dress however you like but I think one should be neat and presentable if you are not homeless... How we engage and are considerate of others during worship will help it to be an enriched experience,... You have given us some helpful etiquette guidelines to consider.

      Thank You for sharing, Peace & Blessings!

    • prektjr.dc profile imageAUTHOR

      Debbie Carey 

      8 years ago from Riverton, KS, USA

      talfonso, Thank you for reading and for sharing the credit! I appreciate your gracious compliments! I hope it helps someone! Have a great day! God Bless!

    • talfonso profile image


      8 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      Thanks for writing about church etiquette! And thank you for linking to my Hub on what to wear on Sunday! You have given me credit for this and I'll give credit back to you by sharing this!

    • prektjr.dc profile imageAUTHOR

      Debbie Carey 

      8 years ago from Riverton, KS, USA

      Efficient Admin,

      That is where I now sit...third row from the front and in the center! It does help! Thank you for reading! God bless!

    • Efficient Admin profile image

      Michelle Dee 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Yes I can relate sitting in church with people behind me having whispered conversations during the sermon, and then there were those who have to unwrap their candy and the loud crinkling would distract me. I have noticed though, at least in my experience, is the farther I sit up toward the alter, the more respectful and reverent the people are. Voted up and interesting.

    • prektjr.dc profile imageAUTHOR

      Debbie Carey 

      9 years ago from Riverton, KS, USA

      Thanks Phil, I appreciate your support! I was concerned that some people might react negatively, but thought I would take the risk and just get it out there!! Maybe I can be a better listener myself!

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      9 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Yes, there are definitely some people that could use some reminding about this topic. Great hub, thanks for writing it, you get a vote-up and awesome from me.


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