Thinking Out Loud

September 30, 2012

Finding A Good Church Fit

A strange thing happened in church this morning.

During the first verse of the first worship song, a family came in: Husband, wife, teenaged daughter.  They took a seat in the 2nd last row. Then we started into “One Way Jesus,” about the edgiest song we do, or as edgy when it can be when most of the worship team is in their mid-forties and the sound is being mixed by the most conservative sound team member in the rotation.

And during the first chorus of that song, the family headed for the exit.

Apparently our church had one chorus to ‘wow’ them and we didn’t. Or maybe they were expecting a more conservative church that would sing from a hymnbook. Either way, it was like we were all X-Factor and the three judges has just given us all three giant Xs. (Or is that X-es?)

I wanted to run outside after them and get the backstory, but I was actually part of the worship team in question and dropping my guitar and running out the back door would probably have alarmed some people, including my wife who was leading the worship this morning, and would have assumed me to be in some type of physical distress.

I wanted to do this for two reasons. First, of course, I wanted to know where our church let them down. Did they not phone during the week to find out about the style of worship? Should they have done more research?

Second, I have an unusually high degree of knowledge about what’s going on in other churches in our community. I could have hooked them up with two churches within a few miles that do actually still use the hymnbooks, both of which have a start time a half hour later than ours, putting them there right on time.

But I don’t even know if it was a music thing. Someone suggested they had seen that the building was open and had come in to use the restrooms, and found themselves ushered to a seat in the auditorium. Now if that’s true, then I really would have wanted to hear that story, just because it’s so funny…

What I did find however, is that witnessing the whole thing from the rather clear vantage point of the platform, the whole scenario completely unnerved me. I played a couple of wrong notes and was completely distracted for the rest of the worship set and well into the sermon. Why had they come in only to leave so quickly?

So, today’s question: What’s the weirdest thing that ever happened in your church involving a visitor or group of visitors who clearly didn’t fit in, or were in the wrong place at the wrong time?

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  1. I have not been here for a long, long time, having drifted from the blogosphere out e-exhaustion! I can’t answer the question as posted, but I can answer the quesiton. I also sing on the worship team in my church and the thing that bothers me more than those who just walk out, are those who decide to stay despite their bad fit. There is an older couple who sits in the back. She is hard of hearing and he obliges by making his comments loudly. This morning, for a change, we had a woman play a hymn from the traditional book to close our first set. “Ah” he said loudly, “Now we will get some real music”. In the same way the exiting family threw you, this insensitive comment threw me Especially since I had sensed God’s presence so wonderfully during the first songs. I would love to walk them down the street to a place where hymns are the main fare and the piano the main instrument. And I wonder too, why they stay…as you wondered why the family left.

    Comment by Cynthia Clarke — September 30, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

    • Interestingly enough, I was actually thinking about you today. Seriously. Guess we just care about our readers here! Anyway, it’s good to hear from you.

      They stay because he gets to make comments out loud and nobody has ever thrown the book at the him for doing so; and I don’t mean the hymnbook.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — September 30, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

  2. Not really answering the question, but I suppose paramedics could be classed as ‘visitors’?

    My husband’s pulse rate (before he had a Pacemaker fitted) dropped to 37 during the Church service. When it happened, the service was stopped, and prayer for him was held as the Ambulance was called. By the time the paramedics arrived, his pulse rate had dropped to 28 and he was almost unconscious – unaware of anything that was happening. They had no alternative but to treat him where he was – and we sit in the third-front row. We told the preacher to continue with his sermon, so the poor man was trying to maintain interest with most eyes in our direction. Quite a stir for about 10-15 minutes, before they were able to get him on the trolley and wheel him out.

    I often wonder how much the paramedics took in – but don’t ask ME what the message was about!

    (Hubby recovered, had a Pacemaker fitted and is progressing OK. He cannot have bypasses, so we’re praying medication helps with the 40+ blockages)

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — October 1, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

    • Well that was a different story! By the way, I think you’ll enjoy tomorrow’s blog post.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — October 1, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

  3. Reblogged this on GoodOleWoody's Blog and Website and commented:
    Have a nice day!

    Comment by goodolewoody — October 2, 2012 @ 7:46 am

  4. My wife and I were in the Christmas cantata, and I invited my brother to bring his family. They stayed for maybe two songs, but their two-year-old twin boys started getting riled up. They walked into the lobby, and seemed to take a moment figuring out what to do next. Because they didn’t know where the nursery was, nor that it was staffed by volunteers they could have left the kids with, they simply left. Our church failed them that day by not having an usher, a greeter, a whomever “on duty” for such situations. We watched from the choir unwilling to disturb anyone by moving. Since it was family there have been plenty of opportunities since then, but it could have been anyone.

    Comment by Clark Bunch — October 2, 2012 @ 8:44 am

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