* Thou shalt not advise the congregation to close their eyes and bow their heads during prayers in recognition that most of them hath been doing the prayer thing since Sunday school. Also, since when was peeking a sin. And isn't it interesting that thou doesn't have to make the same admonition before thy sermons?
* Thou shalt advise thy music minister to select familiar hymns that are easily singable by average people and not tunes that only can be sung by Luciano Pavarotti, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or an ensemble of chanting monks. See such Top 40 hit hymns as "Amazing Grace," "How Great Thou Art," "Blessed Assurance" and, the only hymn this tone-deaf, monotone columnist can handle of any type, "Jesus Loves Me."
* Thou shalt advise thy youth minister to keep his or her children's times to no more than five minutes in recognition that less than saintly comments often can come "out of the mouths." Thy youth minister can be walking into a minefield. By shortening the time, thy youth minister lessens the opportunity for conversations in front of God and everybody like the following: Youth minister: "now, Justin, what is your favorite prayer to God?"... Justin: "The one Daddy says all the time around the house when Kentucky is losing. It's 'God @#% this' and 'Jesus Christ #@*& that'"... Youth minister: "Thank you, Justin, you may take your seat.... Jennifer, please come up here."
* Thou shalt keep thy wits and temper in check if thy altar boys and girls mess up with the lighting of candles on the altar. Remember, a quick call to 911 and the fire department can be right there.
* Thou shalt keep sports and politics out of they sermons in recognition that they congregation likely is a mix of red and blue state America: University of Louisville Cardinal red, University of Kentucky Wildcat blue; Republican red, Democrat blue.
* Thou shalt not make change from the cash and coins in the offering plate.
* Thou shalt not talk during the pastor's sermon, unless thou is passing on some juicy gossip about the love life of one of thy pastor or of thy church's more sanctimonious members.
* Thou shalt use the bulletin for reading, not for paper airplanes. Exception: If thou just has to pass on the gossip about the sanctimonious pastor's or parishioner's love life, use the bulletin to write it down and pass it down the pews. That would be much less disruptive than talking about it.
* Thou shalt not applaud at any time during a service. Remember that thou are in the House of the Lord, not the House that Rupp Built.
* Thou shalt wear decent but not showy apparel to services. Remember that thou are in a church, not the walkway at a Calvin Klein fashion show. As a kid, I was much more interested in the little heads on the fox fur wrap on the shoulders of a woman in the pew in front of me than I was with anything the priest had to say.
* Thou shalt make a firm and sincere handshake at the time when thy minister asks the congregation to greet one another or to "exchange the peace." Too many people give limp and sweaty handshakes that would go well with those multiplying loaves mentioned in the Bible but aren't welcome by the recipients.
* Thou shalt only hum hymns if thy voice brings howls from the dogs in the neighborhood outside the church.
* Thou shalt be polite and welcoming when greeting visitors, not pushy and proselytizing. Use the soft-sell or no-sell approach. For instance, if the visitors are not used to kneeling or genuflecting, don't karate chop the area of their legs behind their knees and shove them down to the kneeling rail or the carpet in front of the altar. If they clearly are "church shopping" and not ready to make a commitment, thou shalt not litter them with literature or boast about how thy church is "more Christian" than any other in town. Remember that thou is a parishioner, not a used car salesperson.
* Thou salt remember that Catholics are Christians, too. Too often the following or something similar to it is heard in this part of God's country: "Most of the people in this town are Baptists, Methodists or members of other God-fearing Christian denominations. And then there are some Catholics." Catholics may be outnumbered by Protestants but thou who are Protestants have to remember that Catholics were around worshipping that "un-Christian, idol-worshipping way" long before God had ever heard of Martin Luther, much less read his theses.