Scope: I speak only for myself. Other pastors may demur, or say "Amen" if they dare.
Tone: you'd be badly mistaken to read these as imperious demands. Instead, pretend you'd asked, "Are there some things you think church members might not think of, that you as a pastor wish they did think of?" I'd shift around in my seat uncomfortably, decline at first... and then, when you really pressed me, I'd say:
- For one: what would you think if a pastor turned up at your door, supposedly there to visit you and speak about spiritual and eternal matters — and he had iPod buds in his ear the whole time? And if he occasionally tapped his foot while you spoke, clearly listening at least partly to music and not you? Rude, eh? So, please: turn off your TV and radio and stereo when the pastor visits. Believe me, you won't miss anything essential.
- Wouldn't it be weird if, while he was preaching and for no connected reason at all, the pastor did "air-guitar"? Distracting, no? So, please: spit out the gum before the service. Preaching to a roomful of dear, chawing souls is not unlike addressing a pasture-full of ruminating bovines. [Now, that is a request. If you get up to lead something in a service where I'm the pastor — music, announcements, reading, prayer, whatever — and you're chewing? We'll have a conversation.]
- It's great that you have your itty-bitty kiddies in the service. Truly! They should indeed learn to be quiet and attend during worship. But keep others in mind, and do pursue the goal of not training your child overly at everyone else's expense. Towards that end, please bear with three tips, at no extra charge:
- Kids actually can be quiet, if they believe that you expect it of them.
- Kids (particularly little ones) need to hear simple, clear directions. Speak in absolutes. "Shh" or "Quiet" just means (if anything) that they should keep up a constant slightly quieter stream of sound. What you should say — and mean — is, "Don't talk." (Alternately, commenters suggest "Don't make noise" and "Don't be distracting.")
- If your cherub won't shush, it is thoughtful to remove him or her — but you must find a way to make sure (s)he doesn't think it's a pleasant and easy alternative to self-control, and thus the birth of a new and cherished regular tradition.
- Encourage your teens (and self) to regulate liquid intake and output so that they can .actually retain their seat during a 35-55 minute sermon — as they (and you) surely do during a 90-120 minute movie.
- If a rare emergency requires egress and ingress during the sermon, please do your best to shut the door quietly in both directions.
- And for mercy's sake, turn off your cell phones. The White House can wait until the service is over. Really, they can!