Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Once is Enough

Have you ever visited a church or just gone into a service, sat down and wished you could get up and run out?
In Mesquite, Texas, fifteen or sixteen years ago, my wife and I entered a church that started an hour later than our home church. (We were so late that we decided to visit that church instead of slinking into ours in the middle of the sermon.)
The first thing I noticed was that none of the men had a beard or mustache. Fact is, no male there had sideburns that were more than half an inch in length. The pastor had a "throne" type chair where he continually stared at me and my wife. The only person who said anything to us was the lady we sat next to. The songs were sung at a faster speed than normal and the invitation the pastor gave lasted longer than his sermon. I had also brought the wrong translation. I don't think anything other than the KJV was welcome, even if you were just a guest. I felt a little like the guy in this comic panel...

Have you ever had an uncomfortable experience while visiting a church? 


  1. Went to an old friends funeral in November and was very uncomfortable. It was like my old friend never lived and the funeral was the pastors evangelistic crusade.

  2. My best friend was mormon and at his funeral I was afforded the opportunity to wander a bit. My favorite picture I took of the event was that of "little indian Jesus" who, in full leather dress, moccassins, and headband, sought to teach the little native American children about the prophet to come. Yeah... I, uh, didn't quite fit in. Though I did stick out a bit in my voice of the martyrs' "Illegal" shirt. Was it disrespectful? Maybe. But in my defense I actually had no black attire to wear outside of that shirt.

  3. When I moved to a new town, I tried to find a new church. I saw a Presbyterian church and thought I'd give it a shot.

    During the service, a lady led us in a few prayers. She addressed the prayers to 'Great Mystery' and 'Autumn Spirit', but never God or Lord. The prayer of 'confession' included this sentence in the middle: Jesus' knowledge was limited by his time and place in history. (I remained silent while everyone else read that out loud)

    Weird things like this kept happening during the service and I thought "what in the heck is going on here?!" I look at the church sign on the pastor's podium and it didn't say PCA, it said PCUSA!

  4. I visited a church for the 4th or 5th time when I could not get a seat. I came in a bit late and tried to talk to people near the door to see if I could take a seat next to them and NO ONE acknowledged my presence. It was as if I were invisible. A woman on the opposite side of the auditorium waved me over and I walked over. The pastor saw this and gave the congregation a little lecture on being friendly. Only one person stopped to greet me after church and he only turned, shook my hand and quickly turned away. I had bathed, was dressed nicely, hair was done. I went back that night for the evening service and they were electing new deacons. The elder said, "I think I'm about the cry" just before he lead the prayer but then went on to tell silly stories about the candidates as they strutted to the podium like high school football players at a pep rally. I will never go back to that church or recommend it to anyone.

    I visited one of the local Presbyterian churches (not PCUSA) and was told I was late and that was it. No one else greeted me or asked me back to Sunday school. They just stared at me as I left. It was totally weird.

    I'm still trying to find a church until I can find work and move away from where I'm living now.

  5. @Lee

    PSST! <-- click me! (not advertising any one specific congregation, just, I hope, giving options)

  6. I had my share of being "invisible" at church and wanting to run away from it all. The cartoon reminded me of the time I went to a southern gospel music concert and the piano player said a funny remark about "cold churches", "Some churches are so cold you could skate down the aisle!" That just cracked me up because I have been to churches like that.

  7. Before I joined a Southern Baptist congregation, I was a Lutheran. I had joined when my dad married a Lutheran after my mom died although my ecclesiological sensibilities were Baptistic having been baptized a couple years earlier in an anabaptist church. As such, I was taken in by a less-than-traditional independent Baptist family who added me as a tenor to their musical group. The pastor of one particularly fundamental church we sang in found out I belonged to a Lutheran church and exclaimed, "If I knew he was a Lutheran, I would never have let him sing here!"

  8. Jim, that brings up a whole new pot of beans. I will have to create a new post for more comments along that line.

    Thanks everyone for sharing your stories!


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