Do you remember when you were a kid and people would ‘amen’ in church? What’s up with that?
I realized the point of ‘amen’ when in an African American church service. They did not leave it at ‘amen.’
“That’s the truth.”
“Listen to him.”
“Right on, right on.”
It struck me then that the basic gist is that 6 days a week telling truth will get jeers and boos. Truth gets pummeled Monday through Saturday. On the Lord’s Day, the preacher has “back-up.” It’s a joy to hear that people agree with what is spoken.
It’s 100% likely that someone in any church crowd will wonder if what the preacher is saying is from the Bible, true, or worth saying. At crucial junctures of truth, an ‘amen’ from the person next to you or across the room will signal that the preacher does not stand alone in his convictions.
While the preacher should not make a habit of “fishing for amens” and neither should he only speak that which he knows will receive one (preaching to the choir, if you will), it is healthy for the congregation to speak agreement (decently and in order) if there is any chance his words will be doubted.
Likewise, if there is *nothing* worth amen’ing in a sermon, there is probably nothing that was worth being said.
When hearing someone else preach, I do give ‘amens.’ I do so when I feel the man is trembling to speak truth for fear of its reception or if I think there is any doubt in the room as to the veracity of his doctrine. I want him to know – and others to know – that there is agreement. It’s my way of saying to the preacher, “Don’t worry, I got you.”
Amen, the Greek Αμήν, means, “verily” or as we would say, “truly.” Or as my African American brothers said that Sunday, “That’s right.” Or as we hillbillies would say, “yup.”
Before you throw out an old “fundamentalist” tradition, evaluate where it came from and if there was ever a purpose for it. And then ask yourself if there’s a purpose for it today.
“Now, can I get an amen?”