“Pastors who hurry through everything or anything ... sends a message—a non-verbal message—that this is not that important, that we better get through this because time’s a-wasting here.”
Jeff Schwarz: “Bill writes: Why is it that most congregations and pastors race through the Lord’s Prayer? I thank God for giving me a teacher who would make us repeat the prayer until we spoke it slow enough before dismissing us for the day.”
Pr. Todd Wilken: “Oh, golly, you’ve touched upon one of my personal pet peeves which is pastors who hurry through everything or anything. We have field workers at our congregation—because we’re local to one of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod seminaries—they send guys over to get Sunday morning experience, as much as they can, given their place as seminarians. And one of the first things I tell all of our field workers, even though I’m not officially in charge of them—I get to watch—I’ll tell them:
‘You’ll notice something here at Trinity: We aren’t in a hurry. There’s no reason to be in a hurry on Sunday morning. The clock is not our god; it’s not our taskmaster. The clock on the back wall is not there to tell us when the service is supposed to be over. Your wristwatch is not there to tell you when the service is supposed to be over. This is like everything else that is important in the world, and this is the most important thing in the world. It’s going to take as long as it takes.
‘That doesn’t mean that we slow it down to the point where it’s tedious. We’ve all sat through an organist who plays the hymn too slow. You just know when too slow is too slow. That doesn’t mean that we slow it [way] down. But it does mean that we take ... our ... time.
‘You take your time doing things that are important to you. You go out for your 25th wedding anniversary. Do you gobble down the meal in ten minutes, pay the bill and rush out? No! You take your time.
‘You take your time doing things that are important and Sunday morning is the most important thing you will do every week. It’s the most important thing that God does for you every single week. So, take your time doing it. There’s no hurry.’
“And that’s why it’s one of my pet peeves: pastors who hurry through, say, the Lord’s Prayer or, worse yet, hurry through the Words of Institution in the Lord’s Supper. They don’t hurry through their sermons. But, boy, do they hurry through the words of Christ in the Lord’s Prayer and the Words of Institution of the Lord’s Supper.
“And it sends a message—a non-verbal message—that this is not that important, that we better get through this because time’s a-wasting here.
“So, my personal corrective to that is to slow down at those things. And to let those things be slower than they ordinarily are to emphasize their importance.
“So we say things that are important, when you speak to your children or you speak to someone else, and you want them to completely understand what you’re saying, you may even slow down to say it. These are important words. So we slow down. We don’t hurry.
“Why pastors do this? It’s a bad habit. I don’t think there’s any pastor worth his salt out there that thinks that the Lord’s Prayer isn’t important. If they do, they should be sent back to the oven of the seminary for further baking—they’re half-baked. Those words are not unimportant. But it’s a bad habit.
“And, every pastor can fall into it—things can become routine. And, you might just go up to your pastor and say, ‘Hey, pastor, during the Lord’s Prayer, slow down. You’re going too fast for me. Slow down.’ And he’ll get it—he’ll understand exactly what you’re saying. He’s not a dummy.”
— Listener Email and the Issues, Etc., Comment Line, 2016-July-27, 41:54–45:48, http://issuesetc.org/podcast/21030727161.mp3