Bob and I have been floundering in the church department. We have been a little lost since our pastor left our last church. That church is taking off in a new direction and though it is going well for the church as a whole, it was not where Bob and I felt fed any more. We are also a bit partial because the pastor is a close friend.
Bob and I joke about becoming too involved in a church. So we have a set of rules that we rehearse prior to entering a new church.
Rule number one. Make no eye contact.
Rule number two. If there is a greeter at one door, enter the other door.
Rule number three. Sit in the front. (No one sits in the front, smaller risk of having to give out your name.)
Rule number four. Leave immediately keeping your head down and making a beeline for the exit.
I’ll tell you how it went for us this last weekend.
We went to Willow Creek. For those of you who are not familiar with this gargantuan church it is comparable to a small college campus. It is the most attended church in North America. North America! The average attendance is around 23,000. It’s perfect for those of us that want an anonymous church experience. Perfect for Bob and I but still he feels the need to go over the checklist one more time as we scurry in.
B: All right Honey, there are four doors, three have greeters, which door do we enter?
T: Second one from the right with no greeter.
B: Excellent! Okay, we’re going to have to hang back a little, we don’t want to go in at the same time as someone else…why?
T: Because then we have to say thank you and run the risk of eye contact.
B: Good girl!
We successfully break through the first barrier with our anonymity intact. Second challenge, we have to find our seat.
We are meeting friends and as we approach we notice our friends are talking to someone. We slow down, we don’t want to be introduced but no, our friends spot us and beckon us over.
I see what is coming next so I am frantically searching in my purse (as I’ve been trained to do), avoiding eye contact, prepared to turn around and search the floor as an avoidance tactic that Bob has taught me to use so that, hopefully, I can slip by and at least one of us can remain incognito. And then, as if in slow motion, I see Bob’s hand reach out for the handshake and a small chill runs downs my spine.
Bob crumbled under pressure. And to make matters worse when the stranger said “Oh, is this your wife?” he did not hesitate, he broke the code, he handed her my name on a platter. My real name. It gets better. Turns out the stranger is the section leader. She’s in charge of making new people feel welcome and part of the church community. Way to go Bob, why don’t you just give her our phone number and email? All the time we spend in training, all the practicing, all the drills? All for naught.
As we take our seat I whisper to Bob.
T: What’s the rule Honey?
B: Whenever anyone asks if this is your spouse deny, deny, deny.
So, we didn’t make it through barrier number two, but during the sermon we know we can rest easy. So we settle in and prepare to be fed. There’s a reason Willow is so huge. The message is always a good one and we always leave feeling like we learned something.
At the beginning of the service they pass out a welcome flyer. It gives you some information on the events going on in the church and at the bottom there is a tear off piece for you to fill out if you would like more information.
I have a pen in my purse. I’m going to get Bob.