Where Do I Put It?

Where Do I Put It?

On Father’s Day, I got the chance to take a trip home to my home- town church (where I grew up) to surprise my dad. We knew where he sits every Sunday, so we filled his row with our family and my sister, and then waited for my parents to arrive. To see their faces walking in was priceless.

From far away, they could see someone was in their row and looked frustrated.

As they got closer, their puzzled look changed to “I think I know those people.”

Then as they approached and could see us up close, it finally dawned on them that the people sitting in THEIR ROW was THEIR FAMILY and that we were surprising them for Father’s Day.

Not only did we witness this take place—but those around us saw the entire drama play out as well. Many got a good chuckle out of it. It was awesome. I’d been wanting to surprise my dad like that for over a decade. 🙂

It had been almost 15 years since I’d been to worship at that church. It was barely the same church I’d left years ago. New faces, new system, new renovations, new stage… pews gone, chairs added, and entry doors moved! A happy, vibrancy filled the room that wasn’t there before. What I thought to expect was not the case at all. It was so different! Including minor details like…where do I put my money?

We came prepared for the offering—and then it never happened!  I asked my husband, “Did you see an offering? Or baskets or plates or trays?” He replied, “Well, it said in the bulletin where to put it.”

Ugh. I didn’t read the bulletin. I was so caught up in the moment with my family that I never read through the entire thing.

Not a big deal, but a minor hospitality detail.

You may wonder why it seems we sometimes repeat the same things every Sunday. The truth is—from one week to the next, the makeup of the congregation can be completely different. Are they new? Are they returning after a long absence? Are they visitors from out-of-town? Did they grow up here but came back for short visit? Is this their first Sunday back post-COVID?

But we try to hospitable, which sometimes sounds like we’re repeating ourselves if you are a regular attendee. Children’s Church, Offerings, Connect Cards, Bulletin Response forms, location of the restrooms… these are all things that not everyone knows about.

I’ll admit I was nervous to return to a building I’d spent the majority of my younger years in—nervous we’d go in the wrong doors or my kids would make a scene or the baby would have a blow-out and we didn’t know where to change her or that we’d be late after our 90- minute drive and have to walk in after the service started and not be able to find a seat!  It’s good for me to remember that all these points of anxiety might be someone else’s points of anxiety when they enter the doors of our church.

I believe at the core of hospitality is removing the anxiety of entering a foreign place! And sometimes that means repetition for the natives. 🙂

Leah Carolan
Director of Worship & Media


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