Church Etiquette: 13 Do’s and Don’ts at Mass

Religion is an objective topic and not every lady is spiritual let alone Christian, but attending mass particularly with Christmas approaching, is still a social and public event that requires certain behavior.

Versing yourself in church etiquette will help ensure you are acting accordingly whether you attend every Sunday or are accompanying a friend on the occasional holiday.

1. Do arrive on time.

It’s disrespectful to disrupt after the mass after it has begun. If you happen to be late be sure to enter quietly and not during a meaningful point such as the Eucharist or Gospel.

2. Do keep your belonging confined to your seat.

Jackets and bags should be kept close to avoid spreading them across the whole pew.

3. Don’t use any technology.

Now is not the time for phones, cameras or any other distracting devises. All potential noise makers should be kept off or switched to silent.

4. Do keep quiet.

If you need to say something during the mass do so quietly and discreetly. People come to church to pray and reflect and this requires a peaceful environment.

church etiquette

5. Do dress respectfully.

Just as everywhere else church has become quite casual even allowing for denim and sneakers. This is acceptable as times have inevitably changed but as this is a lesson for proper ladies I recommend that you make an effort to dress respectfully. This means no spaghetti straps, sheer or low cut tops, nothing too tight or flashy and if able a proper pair of shoes. Of course attending mass casually is always preferred to not at all but if you are making the effort to attend it’s respectful to put some thought into your ensemble. Although you don’t have to dress to the nines every Sunday, special attention should be paid to masses such as Christmas and Easter.

6. Don’t eat or drink.

Eating and drinking in church is disrespectful as well as being a distraction for others. Beyond that if one is planning on accepting Communion then traditionally it is best to fast for an hour beforehand. So munching some chips during the mass is not viewed in the best light. Of course exceptions are to be made for medical reason or small children. This rule also extends to no gum chewing.

7. Don’t offer the sign of peace if sick.

When it comes time to offer the sign of peace with a hand shake make sure your hand is clean. If you have a slight cold use some hand sanitizer and if you’re very ill and don’t wish to spread germs kindly nod your head and offer your peace without a handshake. To make the reason you’re not extending a hand obvious, hold a tissue in one hand so others may see that you are ill.

8. Don’t fidget.

Just as you’ll want to be quiet to avoid bothering others you’ll also want to refrain from fidgeting. You don’t have to be as still as a statue, just keep in mind that you’re in a sacred setting and don’t want to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere.

9. Do take your noisy child to the back pew or a cry room.

If your child acts up and begins making noise either take them to the back of the church or if available to a cry room. Most parishioners will be understanding but you still want to respect their time of worship. If you have a young child or know they are prone to make noise try to find a seat in the back or near the aisle for an easy escape.

10. Do sit, stand and kneel as required.

Unless it’s due to old age or medical reasons then expect to sit, stand, and kneel when required. If you don’t know when to do what then don’t sit in the front row so you’re able to follow what others do around you.

11. Don’t receive Communion if you’re not religious.

When is comes time to receive Communion don’t go up to accept it unless you are of that religion. It’s something taken quite seriously and could be seen as disrespectful if you are taking part without the truest intentions.

church etiquette

12. Don’t leave early

You may notice a few members leaving right after receiving communion. Try not to do this. The priest still has to give the closing prayer, parish announcements and well wishes for the week. Although you may consider the “bread” and butter of the mass to be finished it’s slightly disrespectful to rush off before the recessional hymn where both priest and alter servers depart the church accompanied by a song.

13. Don’t worry if you don’t believe.

If you happen to be accompanying a friend or family member and are not religious or of a different religion don’t feel pressure to cross yourself or recite any of the responses or prayers. Of course you may freely do so but you should feel comfortable attending and listening without committing yourself. If you disagree don’t make it obvious by vocally stating so, respectfully listen until you leave the church where you can then discuss your opinions afterwards.


HOMEWORK: Have you ever witnessed bad etiquette in church? Tell me about it in the comments below.


Did you enjoy this lesson?
Don't fall behind! Stay updated on the newest monthly lessons (it's free).
100% Privacy. I'm very discrete.
Photo Courtesy:,