It doesn’t bother me anymore when I hear a phone ringing during a church service. Welcome to life in the 21st century. But I was shocked recently when I heard a blaring ringtone while I was preaching—and a woman on the second row pulled her phone out of her purse and began a conversation as if she were in the waiting room of a hair salon.

That incident prompted me to ask my friends to share their own stories of rudeness in church. My question triggered an avalanche of pent-up frustration about crinkly candy wrappers, smelly feet (yes, someone took off their shoes during the service), unruly children, coffee-sipping saints and parishioners who try to finish their pastors’ sentences during sermons.

When I tallied the responses, I came up with this list of the rudest things people do in church:

  1. Talking during a service.
  2. Texting, surfing the web or playing video games.
  3. Sleeping—or snoring!—during a sermon.
  4. Clipping fingernails or toenails during church. (I was amazed at how many people listed this offense. One person said his church’s sound technician clipped his nails routinely during the sermon, and it was amplified over the loud speaker.)
  5. Answering a ringing phone in church.
  6. Painting fingernails during a service. Three coats, in fact!
  7. Eating potato chips during the sermon.
  8. Playing Words With Friends during worship.
  9. Letting babies cry incessantly.
  10. Selling Avon products in the sanctuary.
  11. Chewing gum noisily. (One friend from Puerto Rico said he is particularly annoyed when people “chew gum like a goat.”)
  12. Public display of affection. (One person complained about a man and wife who enjoy giving each other back rubs during worship.) read more

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