How To Behave In Church

Pastor Don Carpenter / General

Uncomfortable:  The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community / Pride; Humility; Church: Fellowship and Unity / Mark 8:34

Often when we see children acting childish in church, sometimes the thought crosses our minds, “someone should teach those children how to behave in church.”  But wait a minute… has anyone taught us how we are to behave in church?  Sure, we dutifully sit quietly, keep to ourselves, speak when spoken to, smile and then leave.  Any interaction is with our circle of friends and acquaintances.

As we continue meditating on our series: “Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community”, we should ask ourselves how Jesus wants us to behave in church.  Our passage this morning gives a simple outline of how we as His disciples are to behave, and certainly it applies to how we are to behave in church.  If we apply these simple life principles in church, we will thrive as a group, and become less disgruntled as individuals.

Whosoever will come after Me. “Will” is thel? (????) “to desire.” It is “Whosoever desires to come after Me.” “Come” is erchomai (???????). The word is used in John 5:40 where our Lord speaks of the fact that certain will not come to Him that they might have life. The word is used here in the sense of becoming a disciple of Jesus, one who follows His instruction and enters into His fellowship. Likewise, to come after Jesus means to become His disciple, follow His teachings, and enter into His fellowship.

Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader

Deny Yourself

Mark 8:34 KJV

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Let him deny himself. The word is aparneomai (??????????). When used with the reflexive pronoun as it is here, it means “to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s interests.” The verb is ingressive aorist, speaking of entrance into a new state or condition. It is “Let him at once begin to lose sight of himself and his own interests.”

Negatively, one must deny himself decisively (“deny” is an aorist imper.) saying no to selfish interests and earthly securities. Self-denial is not to deny one’s personality, to die as a martyr, or to deny “things” (as in asceticism). Rather it is the denial of “self,” turning away from the idolatry of self-centeredness and every attempt to orient one’s life by the dictates of self-interest (cf. tdnt, s.v. “arneomai,” 1:469–71). Self-denial, however, is only the negative side of the picture and is not done for its own sake alone.

Grassmick, J. D. (1985). Mark. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 141). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Romans 15:1 KJV

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Romans 15:2 KJV

Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

Romans 15:3 KJV

For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.

Philippians 2:3 KJV

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Philippians 2:4 KJV

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

1000 Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching Beyond Self

During the early days of the Confederacy, Robert E. Lee was severely criticized by General W. H. C. Whiting. Most persons would have retaliated. One day, President Jefferson Davis invited General Lee to share with him his appraisal of General Whiting. The noble Virginian commended Whiting in highest terms. Whereupon, an officer took General Lee aside to remind him of General Whiting’s verbiage against him. To which Lee replied: “I understood that the President desired to know my opinion of Whiting, not Whiting’s opinion of me.”

Take Up Your Cross

Mark 8:34 KJV

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Cross-bearing was not an established Jewish metaphor. But the figure was appropriate in Roman-occupied Palestine. It brought to mind the sight of a condemned man who was forced to demonstrate his submission to Rome by carrying part of his cross through the city to his place of execution. Thus “to take up one’s cross” was to demonstrate publicly one’s submission/obedience to the authority against which he had previously rebelled.

Jesus’ submission to God’s will is the proper response to God’s claims over self’s claims. For Him it meant death on the cross. Those who follow Him must take up their (not His) cross, whatever comes to them in God’s will as a follower of Jesus. This does not mean suffering as He did or being crucified as He was. Nor does it mean stoically bearing life’s troubles. Rather, it is obedience to God’s will as revealed in His Word, accepting the consequences without reservations for Jesus’ sake and the gospel (cf. 8:35). For some this includes physical suffering and even death, as history has demonstrated.

1 Corinthians 9:16 KJV

For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

1 Timothy 1:15 KJV

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

John 9:25 KJV

He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

1000 Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching Call Me Eccentric


When narcotic detectives raided a loft apartment in a depressed neighborhood in New York City, their eyes and hearts were shockingly opened. The dark corridors and dingy rooms were crowded with twisted, ill-fed, and ill-clothed derelicts. Out of this human scrap heap, the police arrested six men for carrying hypodermic needles and heroin. Apprehensive of the host of this heterogenous company, the detectives charged him with harboring drug addicts.
At police headquarters, the meek-looking and mild-mannered man claimed that he had chosen to live among these people to provide them with food, shelter, and clothing. His door was open to all. He did not realize he was breaking the law in extending compassion. Investigation revealed that the operator of this strange hostel was neither a vagrant nor a drug habitue. The dedicated man turned out to be John Sargent Cram, a millionaire, who had been educated at Princeton and Oxford. To avoid the “rigmarole” of organized charity, he had moved into the undesirable neighborhood and had gone to work.
After his trial and acquittal, Cram was admonished not to take in drug addicts. Later he said to a reporter, “I don’t know if my work does any good, but I don’t think it does any harm.… I’m quite happy, you know. I am anything but a despondent person. Call me eccentric. Call it my reason for being. I have no other!”


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Follow Jesus

Mark 8:34 KJV

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

In Jesus’ words, Follow Me, “follow” is a present imperative: “(So) let him keep following Me.

Luke 9:23 KJV

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Follow Me. The word “follow” is akolouthe? (?????????) “to take the same road as another does.” It is used with the associative instrumental case. It is, “Let him follow with Me.” The idea is not that of following behind another, but that of accompanying the other person, taking the same road that he takes and fellowshipping with him along that road. The first two imperatives are aorist, giving a summary command to be obeyed at once. The “coming after” and the “taking up” are to be obeyed at once and are to be a once-for-all act. That is, these acts are to be looked upon as a permanent attitude and practice of life. The whole life is to be characterized by an habitual coming after and taking up of the cross. After having once for all given over the life to the Lord, the believer must hence-forward count it ever so given over. He is not his own anymore. He belongs to the Lord. He is the Lord’s property. The word “follow” however, is in the present imperative, which commands the doing of an action and its habitual, moment by moment continuance. The first two imperatives give direction to the life. The last speaks of the actual living of that which has been given direction by two once-for-all acts.

Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Mk 8:34). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

1 John 3:16 KJV

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers 698: Surrender


In The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life, Charles Stanley writes:

  In water-safety courses a cardinal rule is never to swim out to a drowning man and try to help him as long as he is thrashing about. To do so is to commit suicide. As long as a drowning man thinks he can help himself, he is dangerous to anyone who tries to help him. His tendency is to grab the one trying to aid him and take them both down in the process. The correct procedure is to stay just far enough away so that he can’t grab you. Then you wait. And when he finally gives up, you make your move. At that point the one drowning is pliable. He won’t work against you. He will let you help.

The same principle holds true in our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Until we give up, we aren’t really in a position to be helped. We will work against him rather than with him.

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