Okay… they are out there. They slip into our churches, wanting to be unnoticed. They are the mega-church refugees.
After two decades of hand clapping, arm waving, and metal chair sitting, they gave themselves a reprieve from church. But now, they want something, and they’re pretty sure they don’t want their parent’s boomer church, with the charismatic pastor and the Limbaugh-induced sermons. And so a few of them are slipping into our pews. Looking around, wearily, cautiously.
What do they look like? How can you spot them? I have a few pointers, since I was one of them.
•Even though they love the environmental aspects of the screen, they might break out into a bit of a cold sweat when they see it in the sanctuary.
•They might bring their Bibles to church. Do not be alarmed when you see the book. Try not to stare. And don’t worry. They will figure out quickly that they’re not supposed to bring it.
•Their personal Bible in their pew does give them a little comfort because they can’t immediately tell the difference between hymnal, prayer book, and Bible in the pew. They will pick up the wrong one. At least until they figure out that no one else really follows along with the readings, because they are the only ones who know how to look them up.
•If they’re particularly moved by a solo, they will clap following it. Once. Until they figure out that it’s not okay. Then they will die a little bit inside.
•They never missed a Sunday at church growing up, but they don’t know the Apostle’s Creed. They are the ones mumbling “watermelon” when the rest of the congregation is proudly articulating every word.
•They might say “Amen” after the pastor says it. It’s just a reflex. And don’t laugh at them if they use “just” in their prayers. At least they know how to pray in public.
•They are the people who would rather leave their right arm than leave their email address.
•They may not have been going to church for the last ten years, because they were afraid that they couldn’t afford it.
•If they happen into a denominational church during Stewardship Sunday, they may never come back. Only because, in their mind, asking for money is what church is about every Sunday.
•If they hear how much your church is involved with helping the homeless and poor, then they will start to breathe. And they might be able to leave something in the offering.
•If you mention that your church supports LGBTs, then the muscles in their neck will loosen. They will be utterly confused, but very relieved.
•They are confused by communion. They might not have even ever participated in communion before.
•If someone tries to hug during the passing of the peace, they will have finely-developed defense mechanisms in order to shield themselves from the Holy Spirit chest crunch.
•If the pastor learns their name after a couple of weeks, they just might faint dead away.
•If the church has a discussion about having a “contemporary” worship service in order to reach out to more people, they will assume that you’re trying to get their parents to come to your church.
And what would you add? Have you been there? Have you seen them?