A View from the Pew: Daydream Believer

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We train ourselves to not pay attention.

Whether it’s distracting technology, over-programming our schedules, entertainment consumption habits, the fall of civilization as we know it, or just human nature, I don’t know. But it can be a challenge to be attentive during worship.

Maybe you don’t have this problem, and admittedly, my bouts with church attention deficit are sporadic, but there are times when no sooner as the preacher said “Open your Bibles and turn to…” that I open my mind and tune out.

How many of you have made grocery lists on your order of worship? Or a to-do list? Ever brainstorm vacation destinations? Thought about birthday or Christmas gifts for family members? Where does your mind wander during worship?

If your mind wanders to such “cares of the world” as these mundane distractions, then I’d submit that your daydreaming is not beneficial to your spiritual growth and development. That’s not really worship. You’re present in body but not in spirit.

But if your daydreaming during worship takes one of these three forms, I believe it can be helpful:

1. Application. There’s an old adage in marketing: WIIFM. What’s In It For Me? In personal conversation or in a sermon, people can’t help but think about themselves. If your mind is going to drift during a hymn or sermon, it can be helpful to reflect on how the point of the message or song applies to you.

Thinking about all the ways you see yourself in the text, even if that means you’re in violation of a behavioral directive, can be an important way God speaks to us. Sermons should bring about introspection. They should not lead to marveling at the proclaimer’s eloquence or logically constructed message. You will benefit more from worship if your mind wanders to a place of personal application.

2. Call. I can’t remember the last time I saw this happen at the conclusion of a Sunday morning worship service, but from my youth I can remember people walking the aisle to commit their lives to Christian ministry. I know people still do it, perhaps in different ways, but I was always amazed by that powerful and public response to God’s call. As believers, we are called by God to act, and as much as we try to tune that out, God’s call sometimes comes to us in the midst of worship.

Even if the sermon is from a text not related to one’s calling, our minds can take us down a path of asking “What is God asking of me?” When that happens, it’s truly beneficial to follow that train of thought rather than silence it. Why pray for God’s guidance if you’re not going to listen when it’s happening? If you feel a sense of God’s call during a service, explore it.

3. Inspiration. Worship is a creative experience, and it can jumpstart our creative process. I have been known to scribble down a few thoughts on how texts are connected or maybe a potential “View from the Pew” topic when a song or sermon resonates. I clearly remember a time when I was in college and less inhibited, and worship so moved me that I actually wrote a poem.

As a writer, words connect in mystical ways, so why shouldn’t worship of God be a muse, provoking us to creativity?

Next time you’re in worship and you start to wonder where a sister gets her hair done or why a brother chose that shirt-tie combination, stop. Hold that thought for a moment and understand what’s going on. Then release it, and send your mind in another direction. Even if it’s a stream of consciousness daydream through the Scriptures, you could leave the church that day better off than if you had been paying attention.

Lance Wallace_for_webLance Wallace is a Baptist layperson who does media relations for the Georgia Institute of Technology. He previously served as Director of Communications with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Lance blogs at newsouthessays.com.

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