Distractions In Church – Whose Problem Is It Anyway?

Distractions In Church by Melinda ToddSpiky pink hair. Hands raised in worship. Drums. Clapping. Dancing. Shouting. Clothes with holes. Dirt. Tattoos. Too much skin showing.

Just a small list of things folks complain about at church. They’re often referred to as distractions.

I can’t concentrate on worship when I see that.

I think it’s disgusting when people wear that or do that to their body.

I’d like to challenge you today if this thought has ever crossed your mind during a church service.

Whose problem is the distraction anyway? Who’s responsible for it? Is it truly the one doing the distracting? Or is the one being distracted responsible?

Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Proverbs 4:25

In this verse King David is telling us to keep our focus straight ahead, focused on God. We can apply this to church attendance. Are our eyes wandering because we don’t have our eyes fixed on the King of Kings? Once the eyes wander, so does the mind.

and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. Matthew 5:29

Ouch. Matthew certainly didn’t mince words. Gouging out your own eye is pretty extreme. By telling us to gouge out our own eye for sinning, Matthew brings the responsibility back on the owner of the eyeball. Bummer. It’s so much easier to place blame somewhere else.

When distractions come at church, and they will, it is your responsibility to refocus your attention. Stop watching the distracting person. Pray for God to help you focus on Him. Change seats if you need to. Change your attitude.

    • That woman dancing, clapping, and/or raising her hands in praise. Maybe she’s thrilled to finally be able to worship. She’s happy and rejoicing. Rejoice with her.


    • That guy’s mohawk or her pink hair. It’s just hair. Get over it.


    • That gal three seats over showing too much skin. Give her the benefit of the doubt. She may not have fully given her heart to Christ yet. She could be seeking. Maybe she really doesn’t know why she should cover up a bit more. Instead of judging her, perhaps you could befriend her. While it may be offensive or distracting to our sensibilities, God made our bodies naked. Satan brought sin and shame to them. *This is a whole other topic – Yes, I think modesty is important but hearts are more important. * Are You A Temptation To Other Men?


  • That guy with dirty clothes. Maybe he just got off work and came straight to church. Maybe he walked in off the street. Is it more important that he’s clean or at service? It’s just dirt, get over it. Were the disciples who walked with Jesus clean? I bet they were dusty with dirty feet much of the time. *I touch on this subject here >> Do You Prepare Your Heart Or Your Appearance For Church

Church isn’t a haven for the perfect but a hospital for the hurting.

Let’s set our eyes and our hearts on Jesus when we get to church this week. Now that we’ve discussed this topic, be prepared for some distractions. Satan’s going to tempt you to pay attention to human flesh instead of the Holy Spirit. Don’t let that happen!

In Him,





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  1. Well written and timely post Mel. You are so right, it is our heart God wants, and unless the clothes are blasphemous we need to overlook them to see the heart of the person who has shown the courage to come to church. Some don’t know better, some don’t have anything else to wear, some are wearing their hair, tattoos and piercings as an armor to protect themselves from people who they are afraid will hurt them. Don’t judge, love. Tell them – hey I like your ink. Or I thought it took me a long time to get my hair done. Embrace them, God gave them a rebel’s heart much like the heart of Jesus. If they distract you, it is you, not them.

    I remember one time when I was young I wanted to wear my prettiest dress to church – it was turquoise with silver rick rack and yes it was my grandma’s square dancing dress. I was scolded, hounded and yelled at because it wasn’t a ‘proper church dress’. In their eyes it wasn’t but to me I was wearing my best for God. I rebelled later, of course, from their ‘rules’ and wore only black. That wasn’t too popular but somber enough for the older Baptists. How I wish I could have sung joyfully to my Lord in my brightest dress!

    David danced almost naked praising his God. We should have naked hearts going to worship, but our outer coverings and ‘decorations’ should be a reflection of coming to God with our hearts ready to worship. For some that is a mohawk, for others their ‘safest’ clothes and for too many who cannot afford anything else it is what they wear every day.
    Shanyn recently posted..Soli Deo Gloria

  2. Jesus reminds me of the pits he has lifted me out of whenever these “distractions” take place.
    He reminds me ever so gently of how He has transformed me and is still working in me. He reminds me of His love and mercy. If that still does not humble me, believe me He will show me through means that are more humiliating. And I am grateful. I touched on this I think a bit too in my “Choking My Inner Pharisee” post. lol. Sometimes choking can be good. Good word, Mel!

    In His Grace,
    Dawn recently posted..Seeing Through New Eyes

  3. I just love that you tackled this topic, and the way you tackled it! Great Mel!

  4. I have to admit that I giggle to myself a bit when I read posts like this. As a missionary for almost 17 years in Papua New Guinea I have been “distracted” by some pretty unusual things. I would gladly take pink hair over sitting in a warm church next to an old mama who smells like she hasn’t had a bath for a while, or among people who decided to give a few coins to the church and spend what little money they had left on food for the week rather than soap. Dirty clothes? Sometimes I am able to remember someone’s name because they wear the same dirty, worn clothes every day. Too much skin showing? Have you ever tried to worship when women in the congregation randomly pull out their boobs for all to see and suckle their children, some as old as 4 years old? How about bugs? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been distracted watching bees, flies, beetles, and cockroaches crawling on people’s heads or shoulders! I’ll never forget the Sunday my girls and I sat watching a little boy playing with a Rhinoceros beetle. If you don’t know what they are Google it so you can appreciate what I am talking about. These beetles make a loud hissing sound when they are threatened. The body of this particular beetle was about the size of a large walnut. He had broken the feet off the beetle but left the legs, because the beetles use their feet to attach themselves to things. When they attach themselves to you it’s hard to pull them off. So this poor beetle was flailing its legs, hissing like crazy as it tried in vain to get away. But it was a lost cause as this little boy kept playing with it as he sucked it in and out of his mouth!!! I’m sure my girls and I were the distracting ones that week as our shoulders shook with laughter as we watched.
    I guess what it comes down to is a matter of perspective. If we are thinking from Christ’s perspective we will not care what people are wearing or doing in church. We will only be glad they came!

    • Kellis, I am SO glad you chimed in on this! I think we have to get out of our own tiny minds, don’t we? And being a missionary in another country will certainly do this 🙂 You are so right on all of it. It’s all about perspective and 100% about where our hearts are and they should be about bringing people in and watching God do his magic in their hearts!!

  5. Totally agree with Dawn! Way to go! I completey agree… b/c it’s what God’s heart is. How far we’ve come from Jesus’ love for people not how they look. I heard recently that our newish worship pastor gets a lot of criticism for what he plays. Here he has picked up his home and family and moved to our state to lead us to worship the Lord and we criticize him b/c the music doesn’t please us? Isn’t God the one we are suppose to be pleasing? His ears, not ours right?

    And with the clothing, we put on college student retreats and a lot of times we have a hand ful on not yet believers who come and dress sometimes pretty crazy. At a recent retreat I overheard a helping cook lady talking about how one of the girls was dressed. The girl wasn’t a chrisitan and I just had no idea what to do. The lady wasn’t talking to me and I just didn’t know if I should interrrupt the conversation to correct her. Tact is not something I am good at, so it would have been pretty awkward. I don’t know. Well, I sure am glad you talked about this Mel. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Laura. I think it’s so important we worry about hearts vs clothing. I get so frustrated with people being so judgmental over this topic. It’s really not what faith is about and I think God dislikes a haughty attitude and fancy dress vs someone who dresses down and comes with a humble attitude ready to worship.

  6. Lost and Found Lady

    I was checking for who to congratulate on the book give away.. I am missing a link or something?? Not sure.

    Anyway, about church distractions, it’s enough to make some of us not go. When you try, try, try to belong and realize you are never going to be considered good enough… what’s the point of continuing to bang your head against the wall.

    I’ve also learned that as I grow in grace, there is a strong polarizing effect that happens. People who are in tune with God naturally move towards me. People who are more or less disconnected from God naturally move away from me. It’s not personal. It’s just where they are in their spirit.

    Lastly, I believe it’s important to make use of many channels of grace and provisioning. I’ve attended some churches via live streaming internet that has really blessed me. I’ve had ‘church on the bus’ while talking to lively Christians on my travels. My own children have surpised me at times with their profound observations. It looks like the next household move will put us in orbit around our old church where we all fit beautifully. I will be very careful to respond to other members having had this experience.

    • The winner was announced on the original giveaway post 🙂 Her name is right there in the middle of the Rafflecopter! * Totally agree with you on those who move toward and away from you. Truth.

  7. Lost and Found Lady

    Lots of text has the struck out font feature now on your site. What happened?

  8. Children Choir Robes

    wow great topic.. there are lots of them in our church. Specially those women who go to church with sexy dress. I think this article is such a reminder to be just focus on God. It’s Satan’s one way of destructing us from our worship. You are right asking God to just focus on him is the best way to get our mind out of the destruction.. thank you so much for your post..

    inspiring 🙂

  9. You are speaking to the Pharisees in the church. We all have a little bit of them in us and that is why we need such important reminders such as this to keep our eyes focused on God, only then can our hearts focus on what God’s does, people and the lost and healing and restoration in the lives of His lost sheep. Have a good weekend, Melinda. Love, Rachael @ Inking the Heart
    Rachael recently posted..The “S, T and U” of Ordinary to Extraordinary

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