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For the past two years I have been blessed to be part of a an awesome new start up Church in Tampa. Being new and having the need for help every weekend I did nothing else all the while there were churches I wanted to visit.

Well in recent weeks we were able to get some time off from the volunteer schedule to visit different Churches in the community.

This last Sunday Rachel had to work and I took the boys to a very large not to be named Church I have wanted to attend.

The reason I share this is two fold: First is the humor side and Second is the educational side.

Now for the Humor:

I have attended quite a few Churches over the years. From Joel Osteen's Lakewood with 57,000 members to a south Georgia Baptist Church of about 20 members. That said I have become very comfortable going to any type or size Church.
Sunday that all changed, you see like I said I have been blessed to go to a Church that was rather laid back in many areas. I felt something out of place as I walked up to the Building, but I really could not figure it out till I got to the door and the Suits 'uh hum' greeted me? I realized at that moment that as with some careers out there, some Churches still exist which get dressed in something other than SHORTS! Yes, I was in a building with a few thousand men ALL in suits and ties.
Turns out it was I which was what was out of place as the ONLY one wearing shorts. Of course they weren't dress shorts either, you know the American Eagle Cargo type. Suffice it to say I was a little less than comfortable. Although I just kept on trucking cause hey I was just visiting, how bad could it be?

Now for the educational:
As I entered the massive atrium area sticking out like a sore thumb I searched desperately for a sign, an arrow, lights or anything to show me what I was to do with my children. I thought for a moment of bringing them in service, but that would probably make me stick out even worse than I already did. So, I turned back toward the entrance and found a counter with an official looking woman standing at it talking to three of her friends. I asked her if she knew where I was supposed to take my children. She turned back and asked another official looking lady to take me to the children's ministry. As I followed this woman she made comment to me that she "thought it was upstairs, but was not certain?" I said to her she obviously did not have kids and she humored me saying yes that was true. This woman as the first one had on name tags which I could not read so I couldn't get any official title.

Upon filling out a form the length of a tax return and confessing "I'm a faithful follower of Brother John Birch(this is for all of you born before 1970)" I followed another lady who was cordial, but made it a point to stop to hug and talk to everyone we passed. Upon dropping the boys off and the half mile walk back we got no directions as to how to get to the sanctuary. Jared and I saw two ushers standing in a hallway. I approached feeling the glare of the men at my naked shins and asked if we could enter the sanctuary through the opening they were standing in front of, the response was "of course loser(OK, I put the gratuitous use of loser in)?" Now the rest of the service was good and I quite honestly could not wait to get out of there and put on a suit! Alright maybe not.

The main problem that was exemplified here that I have seen over and over is not so much how I was treated cause that could be deemed subjective on my part. The thing which I feel isn't so much subjective is my being a visitor and sticking out like Yao Ming in a pygmy village.

You see one of the things Churches miss in teaching their volunteers how to effectively volunteer is one of the most important job requirements. This should be how to identify visitors, make them feel welcome and help them. This as Ford would say is job number one! Top Priority, cause truth be told I could not tell you what songs we sang, how fancy the light show was or what versus were quoted.
But, I can tell you the local Churches that make me feel like top priority when I go and which I would be comfortable returning to.

I hope someone gets something from my experience, I know I sure did! I have burned all my shorts, J/K!

posted by One Man's Struggle To Take It Easy @ 8:13 PM,


At 10:08 AM, Blogger LunarWorld said...

I always overdress when going to an unfamiliar church, because you never know! Nothing worse than being comically underdressed.

Good post. So many of us who are "at home" in our church need to remind ourselves of what it feels like to be new, and make sure that we're making that experience the best for those who are there for the first time.

Which to me is being seeker-sensitive. Also, not using overly churchy phrases (this past weekend, someone said, "can you bear witness with me?" and I thought WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!?) or expecting that everyone knows where Galatians is in the Bible. Not watering down the Gospel, but presenting it in a way that's accessible. Just my 2¢ on yesterday's rant. :)


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