Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On Your Mark. Get Set… Be Friendly!

It's has been going on long enough in enough churches that it has become a ritual.

"Let's take a moment to greet one another," the worship leader says. Then the music begins, the people stand up, move around, shake each others' hands, and say how glad they are to see each other.

They call it "Passing the Peace" or "Meet and Greet." I like "Trap and Rap" but it has yet to catch on--I'm hoping, though.

I hate it. It reminds me of when I was a kid attending a party and when it came time to leave, my mom would say, "Be sure to tell them you had a nice time."

"I had a nice time," I would mumble with deep sincerity.

A lot of people seem to like it. If I try to skip it, I get complaints, especially from the guys who consider it a religious experience to hug a good looking woman.

I had occasion to visit another church not long ago and it came time for that precious moment of fellowship. I saw a handful of people working the crowd like salesmen and politicians and I thought for a moment I was at a used car lot.

It depresses me to realize how often I have done that same aggressive glad handing myself, working the crowds and noting the visitors for future cultivation.

I can remember when I worked a crowd to see who was especially needy. But there are two things different now. First, in this crowd, no one wants to let on that they're needy. And second, I'm too tired to care as much.

By the end of Sunday night, I'm tired of shaking hands and beaming my big mug into other people's faces. I'm ready to go home to hug my two tall handsome sons and kiss my pretty wife.


  1. Nothing like a forced awkward moment. I always hated that too.

  2. I'm not sure which is worse - the forced awkward moment, or the opposite, which is when all the regulars take the opportunity to catch up on their weekly gossip, leaving the visitor standing by him or herself feeling foolish.

  3. You and I both, Mike

    Bird, that's perhaps the most important point to make here. It's horrible to feel completely alone in a crowd of people who don't see you. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  4. I always scan the whole crowd before the service gets started, note who the visitors are (or the drop-out members making a tentative re-entrance), and especially the ones who look alone and out of place--minorities, street people, depressed people, shy people--and plan a "route" to cover the most territory in the shortest time. I don't want ANYONE to feel alone or out of place. And I adjust my natural extroversion level to fit what I sense they can handle. I suppose I do look like a politician, but I'm not running for anything.

    What I do hate is when some clueless bipolar in manic phase tells us to turn to the person next to us and tell them we love them. Nothing can be done about that; there's no curing stupid.


  5. "No curing stupid." LOL.

    I appreciate that you search out the lonely isolated ones in a crowds--Jesus did that.