When I was a kid, I always hated going on vacation over Sunday. it meant we would go to a church somewhere other than our own.
Going to a strange church was bad enough, but we had to go to Sunday School too. Having an extreme legalist for a parent meant church was lived out no matter where we were.
Walking into a strange Sunday School class is one of the worst tortures any kid can go through. I felt like I was wearing a sign that read, “I’m a dork, I’m no good at sports, I take piano lessons, and I haven’t earned my wolf badge in Cub Scouts.”
Sunday School kids are trained to stare holes into new kids. That’s why I always tried to sit in the back.
The next worst thing is during church when a pastor says, “We have some visitors with us today. Would you please stand and introduce yourself and your family?” What he is really saying is, “We would love to make your kids feel completely stupid, so please stand up and let us look at you.”
The problem was my dad was totally happy to stand up and talk to a room full of strangers, the more the better. I think if the preacher asked him to give an impromptu sermon he would have done it.
I had an attack of legalmania once when we were on vacation with our own family and I forced us to go to church. We didn’t go to Sunday School, but the embarrassment forced on us in church was plenty bad enough. When we walked in, someone walked up and started sticking little lighthouses on us.
All of a sudden I was a kid again and a loudspeaker blared, “Hey everybody! The dork family is here! Let’s stare at them!”
I should have excused us and walked out. After we left church my whole family stuck the lighthouses on my shirt. And they remind me about it nearly thirty years later.
Just a word of advice to church people. Say hi to visitors, that’s enough. Attacking them with church magnets or wallet size photos of the preacher isn’t going to make them come back. Don’t ask where, or if they normally go to church. Believe me, visitors can tell you’re desperate for new people.
Church is great. Something that important shouldn’t make visitors feel like they’re wearing nothing but jockey shorts.