Ten Things About Church You Should Know (But No One Had the Guts to Tell You)
There is no sin in making little mistakes of spelling or grammar. We all make them. But in case you wanted to know (you probably don’t), or in case you wanted to mention it gently to someone else (more likely), here are ten tiny things to keep in mind as you lead in worship, prepare the bulletin, or just converse about the church service.
1. There are 150 psalms in the Bible. This collection is called the Psalter or simply The Psalms. Each chapter in the book is an individual psalm. So even though we call the book “The Psalms” you’ll want to say “Psalm 23″ instead of “Psalms 23.” As much as we love that chapter, it still only counts for one psalm.
2. Speaking of extra S’s, the last book of the Bible is “Revelation”-in the singular. It may produce many revelations in us, but apparently it was all of a piece for John (Rev. 1:1).
3. A word to the selfless souls who input song lyrics for Sunday morning: “Oh” is not the same as “O.” The former is an exclamation, an emotional cry of anger, excitement, despair, or surprise. The latter is a vocative form of address usually followed by a name or title. If you lose your wallet and say “O God” you are probably praying to find it. If you say “Oh God” you are doing something else.
4. When the worship leader and the congregation go back and forth with a passage of Scripture or a prayer, that’s reading responsively. You may also call the congregation to read responsibly, but they’ll likely try to do that anyway.
5. Martin Luther made his famous stand at the Diet of Worms, with the i pronounced like ee and the w like a v. Or at least that will get you pretty close, and no one will snicker.
6. The shiny book with all the church pictures is a pictorial directory, but the man listed toward the front of the book does not engage in pastorial ministry. There’s no “I” in pastoral work.
7. While the i’s have our attentions, please note the difference between Arminians and Armenians. John Wesley was an Arminian. Alice Panikian, a former Miss Universe from Canada, is Armenian. Don’t confuse the ethnicity with the theology. I can’t comment on Panikian’s views on the doctrines of grace, but I’m fairly certain I can guess Wesley’s opinion of the Miss Universe pageant.
8. Keeping with the Wesleys, you remember that Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is one of Charles Wesley’s most famous hymns. The punctuation is critical. The herald angels sang “Hark!”–as in “behold” or “listen up”–when they approached the shepherds keeping watch o’er their flocks by night. They were not singing, “Hark the Herald!” The Christmas story would be less glorious with the angels singing about themselves.
9. And later in that song, when you get to “Hail the Sun of Righteousness,” that’s not a typo. Don’t change it to “Son.” Malachi would be disappointed (Mal. 4:2).
10. And finally, one more warning about our egregious little consonant friend. Stuart Townsend has starred in uplifting films like Queen of the Damned and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He’s also done voice-over work for the animated television show Robot Chicken. The guy who works with the Gettys and writes all those sweet modern hymns-that’s Stuart Townend. Don’t be so quick to say yes to the S.