July 29, 2011

Just Visiting

Sunday mornings have a routine. At home, I assemble food, dress children, gather supplies. My husband tweaks his sermon, prays, ties his tie with a distracted look. Once we get to church, the familiarity continues: Rob goes to his office after speaking to the pianist, and I take the kids to the bathroom. The usual people have arrived ahead of us and parked in their usual spots. Families joke about sitting in their “assigned pew.” We’ve been part of the same church for seven years now, and, at this point, I know what to expect.

One Sunday was different. That Sunday I was a visitor. 
Our summer vacation forced me out of my own church, whose halls I can navigate blindfolded, and into the role of visitor. The church we attended was in a new city, part of a different denomination, and filled with strangers.
The people in the church were Christ-loving and friendly; I’m glad I’ll have an eternity to worship with them. I had much more in common with them than I do with most of the world’s population. But it’s not easy to be a visitor:

  • I arrived frazzled. New church, new city, new time. It was stressful to try to find it (thanks, GPS) and enter before worship started.
  • I worried about dressing wrong. The women covered their heads in worship, which is not done in my own church. I brought a scarf but was still uncomfortable about how and when to wear it.
  • I didn’t know where to find anything. After our long trip, the first thing our children needed was a bathroom, but I had no idea which direction to head.
  • I was unfamiliar with the church culture. When do we sit? Stand? Sing? What do we do after the benediction? Who eats first at the fellowship lunch?
My discomfort was good.

It prompted me to look at my own church with visiting eyes. And, next Sunday, when I’m back to my comfortable routine, I hope to remember the way it feels to be a visitor. Maybe it will help me to do a better job of focusing some extra love and welcome on the new woman in the back row.


  1. There is value in getting outside your "box" to see things with new eyes. Thanks for challenging us to have a new perspective on what is so comfortable to us but may not be to others. Seeing Christianity, as a whole, from the eyes of my non-Christian co-workers helps me to think outside my box.

  2. This is a familiar feeling to me! We travel so much and visit different churches. Thanks for putting words to some of what I have experienced.


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