13 Completely Legitimate Reasons You Can’t Pay Attention in Church

🌺  Written by Amanda Whittington

Almost every worship service has a sermon of some sort. And nearly everyone has trouble paying attention to the message at times.

It can be easy to chalk it up to Sunday Morning ADD, but the reality is that there are probably a lot of good reasons you’re having trouble staying focused on the message.


1. You Have Kids

Toddler playing with Bibles in church
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Parenting takes a whole lot of focus and determination, especially during the church service. If you are busy trying to help your kids pay attention (or at least stay relatively quiet and calm), you aren’t going to be able to give that sermon your full attention.

Hopefully, you can at least catch bits and pieces in between handing out chewing gum and sippy cups, passing around crayons, and picking up the goldfish crumbs.

Don’t despair – this is only for a season, and eventually, your kids will bring their iPads to church and you won’t have to work so hard to entertain them.


2. You Aren’t Emotionally Invested in the Topic

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Not every sermon is going to be meaningful for everybody. If you aren’t a parent, chances are you won’t be too interested in that Mother’s Day message. If you aren’t going through grief, a sermon on suffering might not hit home.

Churches try to be meaningful for as many people as possible, but not every sermon is going to be a home run for every member every week. If you aren’t emotionally invested in the topic of the day, then you might not be able to pay attention.

Hang in there because soon, the topic will change, and hopefully, it will be one that hits home for you.


3. You’re Part of the Instagram Generation

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Sermons began as a way for people to hear the Word of God, especially if they couldn’t read or didn’t own a Bible. But times have changed a lot since then! And now we have a whole segment of society that has been raised on Instagram (or become addicted to it).

The challenge of spending a lot of time on social media is that it affects how our brains work. Reels and Instagram stories last for just a few seconds before we scroll away and get another hit of dopamine from something else.

Sermons, on the other hand, can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Our brains aren’t used to focusing for that length of time and without constant dopamine hits. If this resonates with you, it can actually be good for your brain to work at focusing on the sermon for longer and longer periods of time.


4. The Sermon is Boring

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Most pastors really want people to pay attention, and so they will incorporate interesting anecdotes, funny jokes, and heartwarming stories to help listeners pay attention and digest the message.

But sometimes pastors miss the mark, and the sermon is simply boring. It is what it is, so just do your best to pay attention and hope for a better joke next week.


5. The Sermon Is Great, But It’s Too Long

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Maybe your pastor writes really great sermons, but they’re just too long for you to listen to. As we already mentioned, attention spans have become much shorter than they used to be. And long sermons, no matter how good, can be hard to listen to.


6. The Chairs or Pews Are Really Uncomfortable

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The mind can only absorb what the hind end can endure. In other words, you’ll have trouble paying attention if the seat is too uncomfortable.

There probably isn’t much you can do to fix the comfort of the pews unless you feel comfortable bringing your own cushion!


7. You’re Stressed and Overwhelmed

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If there is a lot going on in your life, it might be hard to focus on anything, much less a sermon. Rather than paying attention, your brain is rehashing all of the things on your to-do list, trying to figure out why your bills are so high, or working at solving a problem at work.

Prayer and meditation are some of the best things to do when you are stressed and overwhelmed, so that pastoral prayer before the message might be just what you need to focus on.

Hopefully, the church service is a time for you to forget about your troubles and not perseverate on them.


8. There Are A Lot of Distractions

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Let’s face it: wherever there are people, there are going to be distractions. People are quick to point the finger at small children in the worship service, but there are a lot more distractions besides a crying baby or a crawling toddler.

The temperature of the room, the feeling of the seats, the rustling of papers, or someone coughing can all distract you from the speaker. If your clothes are making you uncomfortable – like that itchy tag or shorts that ride up – you might not be able to focus, either.

People moving around, making noises, or passing traffic can all distract you from the message. Distractions can make it pretty impossible to stay focused, even on good days.


9. You Aren’t Taking Notes

A young child writing in a journal.
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Taking notes can help you pay attention. Bring a notebook and pen to church or even use the church bulletin to jot down thoughts and ideas, bullet points from the sermon, or even just to doodle. It can help you focus and listen in better.


10. You’re in Pain

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It doesn’t matter if it’s physical or emotional pain. Whatever it is can prevent you from paying attention. It is tough to listen when your head hurts, but it can be equally hard to listen if the pain is in your heart or soul.

Hopefully, it won’t be long before you feel better and can concentrate again. Until then, go easy on yourself and just do your best.


11. You’re Busy Helping with the Sermon

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Getting anything out of the sermon is hard when you are busy being a church volunteer. Most churches will have a rotating schedule (if they have enough volunteers), so you aren’t missing out every single week.

But if you’re busy handing out bulletins to late-comers or directing people to the bathrooms, you’ll probably find it’s hard to pay attention.

But don’t worry, it’s a worthy cause.


12. You Stayed Up Too Late

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Life is busy, and chances are, the only time you get to relax and enjoy some quiet time is late at night.

Busy parents notoriously stay up later than their teens just to get in a little bit of peaceful TV time or secret snacks. Or maybe you were out late on a Saturday night celebrating a wedding or a birthday.

Regardless, if you were up too late and now you’re tired, it will be hard for you to listen to the worship service. Next week, put down the phone a little earlier and get some more shuteye.


13. You Were On Your Phone

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Turning your cell phone off during the worship service should be a no-brainer. But it’s so easy to slide it out of your pocket or purse and peek at it when the service gets to feeling a little bit slow.

If you were scrolling, there’s a good chance you missed a great nugget of wisdom. And there isn’t anything much more distracting than your phone.


15 Quirky Things Protestant Do That No One Else Understands

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A large and wildly diverse group without one central authority, it’s difficult to pinpoint Protestant culture exactly.

From Baptists to Methodists to Evangelicals to Lutherans, each individual denomination has its own practices, traditions, and beliefs. A common trait that applies to one rarely (if ever) applies to all.

That being said, there are a few practices that are distinctly Protestant — practices that others find a bit weird or quirky.

Whether your church is guilty of all of these or none of these, you might just get a chuckle at these 13 quirky things Protestants do that no one else understands!

15 Quirky Things Protestant Do That No One Else Understands


15 Important Issues Catholics and Protestants Can’t Seem to Agree On

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Have you ever wondered what Catholics or Protestants really believe?

Maybe you were taught that the “other side” is completely wrong, misguided, and sinful, but you’re not sure why (or if that’s even accurate).

As someone who grew up in a very Protestant home and culture (my grandpa was a pastor) before marrying into a very Catholic family (we attend mass every week), I’ve had a front row seat to see how these two major branches of Christianity compare.

In many ways, Catholics and Protestants really aren’t that different.

And, interestingly enough, some of the biggest differences between Catholic and Protestant Churches aren’t limited only to differences in belief. There are some pretty big cultural differences as well.

So, at the risk of oversimplifying (obviously, every individual church is different), here are the biggest differences between Catholic vs. Protestant worship and belief.

15 Important Issues Catholics and Protestants Can’t Seem to Agree On

Amanda Whittington
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Brittany Ann Equipping Godly Women

About the author

Brittany Ann is an ECPA bestselling author of “Fall in Love with God’s Word” and “Follow God’s Will” and the founder of EquippingGodlyWomen.com, a popular Christian-living website dedicated to helping busy Christian moms find practical ways to go "all in" in faith and family. Her work has been featured on CBN, The Christian Post, Crosswalk, and more.

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