I’ve grown up going to church all my life. I have been to many different churches, different denominations, different worship styles. With all the differences, most of them follow the same “program” each Sunday morning.
First, (if you are on time) there is a welcome from the music pastor/leader followed by a time of worship with singing. (This is usually when I stroll in.) Then about 10 minutes into the singing, a pastor or associate welcomes everyone again and gives a few announcements from the bulletin. Then, maybe they tell us to bow our heads and lead us in prayer.
As soon as I hear the congregation mumble “Amen,” I know the 8 dreaded words that follow:
“Now take a minute and greet your neighbor.”
Having moved as many times as I have, I know there is nothing more lonely than sitting in church surrounded by hundreds of strangers.
Oh wait…yes there is….sitting among strangers, then having to superficially shake hands and say hello. (that is unless, you enjoy doing this. If so, you may not want to continue reading)
But really… what do I say? “Hi. I’m Amber. I’m new.” Um, no.
And even if this is a church that I have been attending for years, I’m still not a fan. Never have been.
Do you just smile, shake hands, and say good morning? Do you introduce yourself? Include your last name? Introduce your spouse? Do you turn to the right or left? Do you wait for the person in front of you to turn around or be proactive and turn around to “greet you “neighbor” behind you?
And then there is the whole possibility of being stranded… standing there by yourself while everyone else is busy greeting each other. Do you stand and continue to seek out a “neighbor” or go ahead and sit down? I guess you could always do the “pretend like your waving to someone you know in the distance while mouthing Hey” thing.
Awkward. Can’t stand it. For reals.
Clearly I have thought about this way too much. And what’s so ridiculous is that this whole thing takes less than 30 seconds. Get a grip, Amber.
I guess it just seems so superficial.
The way I see it, I’ve already had to fake smile at the greeter at the front door, the one handing out the programs, the usher that will pass the tithing baskets, and eventually the one with the communion trays.
Anyone else feel this way? Or am I the only one that thinks about crap like this? Don’t answer that.
But, in case you are like me….
Here are my 3 tried and true ways to avoid these awkward moments all together:
1) when the announcements start, excuse yourself “to the bathroom” or just to the foyer. Come back after you can hear it’s over.
2) when you hear the “greet your neighbor” cue, sit down (or stay seated) and reach for your purse under your seat. Start digging through it like you are looking for something important. Keep your eyes down and move things around in your purse until the time is up.
3) if you have kids with you…you may be annoyed they are in the service with you, but use them to your advantage during this time! You can either a) dig through your purse to find the coloring book or activity you brought for them and get them all set up or b) tell them to pretend to sleep on your shoulder for a few minutes. If they don’t want to…bribe with candy.
But really people…. what purpose does this “greet your neighbor” thing serve? What’s the point? I’ve never met my bestie in those 30 seconds.
If it’s just to fill a few minutes while they transition up on stage, why not try something else?
A ballerina flittering across the stage? Dimming the lights and blasting “Are you ready to rumble?” And there’s always the option of having streaker run down the aisle.
Anything but “greet your neighbor”…for the love!
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