It’s Sunday morning, and you’re at church.

You’re the pastor. You’ve had this sermon ready to blow people’s minds for weeks. You feel like a conductor, orchestrating the audience’s emotions to the climax of your masterpiece. It’s here: your main point. A dramatic pause. The room’s silent. You start that intense whisper thing you do . . . but suddenly, Ke$ha cuts into your symphony: “TiK ToK, on the clock, but the party don't stop, no. Whoa-oh oh oh.” You spot a visitor in the fourth row scrambling to silence his phone. The moment’s gone.

You’re the worship leader. Your go-to praise chorus has finally arrived—the one that never fails to give goosebumps. You’ve trained the worship team for hours to get this one right. The instruments fade. Your voice gets soft and raspy, and you start interjecting non sequiturs: “yesss,” “oh Jesus,” “we’re here.” And then, “Blwaaah!” A baby screams. You try to ignore it, but the wails only intensify. The mood dies.

You’re in the pews. It’s that song that changed your life at church camp years ago. You’re teary-eyed, hands reaching to the heavens, swaying as if God himself is rocking you like a baby. Then, suddenly you hear a ghastly noise. Oh no, you think, I sat in front of Cindy again. Cindy couldn't carry a tune if it had a handle, and yet she unashamedly belts out cacophonous praises as if God needed hearing aids. The groove’s lost.

If you’ve spent much time in church, you’re probably familiar with distractions like these. You may also wonder how to respond to them.

One option would be to try and do away with them, ...

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