The benediction is a short prayer often said at the end of a church service. Generally, the pastor, preacher or priest leading the service delivers the prayer. The purpose of a benediction is to bestow the blessing of God on the church congregation and to ask for his guidance and mercy in the coming days. Though the benediction usually marks the end of a service, it is just as much a part of the worship as the sermon or hymns. Good etiquette must be observed.
Stay in the Sanctuary
Resist the temptation to inch toward the door during the benediction. It is poor church etiquette to leave the sanctuary during a service, and that includes the time during the benediction. Be respectful and stay put for the duration of the closing prayer, which is usually short, and then the service will be officially over and you will be free to go.
In Case of Emergency
If you absolutely have to leave the sanctuary during the benediction, do so quietly and quickly so as not to distract anyone or draw attention. Always exit the sanctuary in a way that doesn’t take you in front of the pulpit. Walking directly in the congregation’s line of sight to the preacher is very bad etiquette and may make you look disrespectful of him and the service.
This is another piece of basic church etiquette that should be followed through the benediction. There are times during many services when the congregation will read in unison, sing hymns or fellowship with one another. Outside of these moments, talking, whispering or otherwise vocalizing are rarely good etiquette. However, those under the impression that the service is over might forget this piece of etiquette or completely disregard it. Maintain a respectful silence until the benediction is over and the congregation has begun to socialize and filter out of the sanctuary.
Stand or Sit as Appropriate
Whether the congregation stands or sits during the benediction varies from one church to the next. If you are new to a church, simply follow the lead of the congregation. If the congregation stands, stand with them. If they sit, sit with them. This is as much a part of the ceremony of the service as anything else, so going along with it is a show of respect. Don’t be the only person sitting in a crowd of standing people or you will appear oblivious at best and disrespectful at worst.
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