One of the many things that I have cherished since coming to KBC in 2019 is that the congregation does not applaud a lot, especially after the anthem or a moving keyboard selection during the offering collection. Certainly, we may applaud our seniors on graduate Sunday or for the special recognition of someone. But these moments are the exceptions.
I have found the lack of applause at KBC rare and refreshing as I am familiar with some congregations who applaud a lot—for music, for baptisms, for their own singing of a song! Applause is quite commonplace in our American culture as whole, and perhaps it’s universal. Underneath it all I am confident worshippers want to show kindness and appreciation, especially following a rousing postlude.
As one who is among many who are “up front” most of the time in our musical roles in worship each Sunday, I am sensitive to the fact that there are many more “behind the scenes” doing a lot of good work. They do not receive any applause or pats on the back. When is the last time our deacons were applauded for visiting those in the hospital or preparing the communion elements? When is the last time our Sunday school and music teachers were applauded for all the instruction and care they give? When is the last time our education pastor was applauded for reading through new curriculum possibilities while also dealing with an ever-growing list of building and ground projects to last until Jesus returns?
When is the last time our hospitality home volunteers were applauded for making sure the hospitality homes and families are cared for and tended to in specific ways? When is the last time our senior pastor received a standing ovation for his sermon following a week filled with nightly meetings, counseling sessions, and lunches with prospective new members?
When is the last time the finance committee was applauded for reviewing the numbers and weighing carefully how to proceed? When is the last time the bookkeeper was applauded for keeping the finances updated for the finance committee while also filling in gaps while the search went on for a new hospitality coordinator?
When is the last time the livestream and sound teams were applauded for making sure that our homebound and others can “tune in” for worship? When is the last time our student and community pastor was applauded for encouraging a student who was bullied while also organizing HOK projects? When is the last time our housekeeping and maintenance staff was applauded for cleaning our building?
I got to attend the last night of Muny’s 2022 season. One of the long-standing traditions is inviting those who work backstage to come out to receive the audience’s applause for their tireless and brilliant work night after night all summer. Is that what we should do at KBC at the end of each year?
What if, instead of applauding, we learn to offer our appreciation?
Alton Lacey preached of this back in the summer, while Pastor Matt was on sabbatical, encouraging us to express our gratitude to each other in not only general terms, but in specific terms of what exactly we appreciate about each other. This can easily be done face-to-face, and it should, especially following the isolation we’ve experienced during the pandemic. But, good old-fashion note writing is most certainly a wonderful way to extend our appreciation.
Some church cultures seem to have cultivated this good habit. Others have not. I know some of you who make note writing an art form. Whether it is one word, one sentence or one paragraph – it is a beautiful thing to receive a note from you.
May it be that we at KBC create a more robust culture of encouragement and expressed gratitude for each other as co-laborers and partners in the Gospel ministry of Jesus Christ.