Many of us who grew up in church are familiar with Worshipper’s Territorial Rights. In my church, people’s pew occupation skills were so honed that I could have gone blind, walked into the auditorium, and still found my Sunday School teacher Steve sitting in the back right section, first row, halfway down. Our friends Jay and Helen were in the far left back section, second row back. Even now, years after growing up at and then being on staff at that church, you could give me a name and I can tell you within 97% accuracy where they sat.
Editor’s note: you must be a real riot at parties.
Our family was no different. Front right center section, three rows back. About three feet from the edge of that pew, one of the support beams or whatever holds those things together had gone bad, so if you sat there you’d sink down a little bit. That was actually a handy tool for the Sundays when the pastor was preaching on whatever sin you were currently struggling with. It saved you the toll on your posture.
I don’t necessarily remember any turf wars in the pews, but that would have been fun. I can envision blue-haired ladies pulling their shiv out of the Baptist Hymnal and carving their gang name (Grannies4JC) in the forehead of the ne’er-do-well who took their seat.
At the Summit, we tend to track along the same lines as my home church. Oh sure, there are differences. You have to arrive an hour early to guarantee a seat. You have to have a grid map of the auditorium, because due to the acres and acres of tan (Tan chairs? We got ’em! Tan floor? You betcha. Tan walls? Look around! You’ve just been digested by a huge khaki beast!) it can be hard to find your same spot from last week. And there are the obvious seating preferences: I’d like a medium-charismatic, audio hot spot, clear view from the columns, easy to slip out during the offering seat, please!
I’m driving these points home – albeit by a circular route – because the time has come to relinquish our claim on Worshipper’s Territorial Rights. Last Sunday, we had a total of 3,054 people attending one of our six worship services. 3,054. That’s only a little less than half the population of my home town, and more than ten times the attendance of the little church where I grew up. 3,054 has only been topped once at the Summit…and that was at an Easter service, where even atheist Jesus-hating people who punch nuns as a hobby will show up.
In our 10:45 service at Brier Creek, there were 1150 people crammed into an auditorium that seats somewhere between 1120 and 1140. We had non-choir people sitting in the choir loft. Twenty-plus people were sitting in the lobby. And the other 1100 on the auditorium floor became very close friends, whether they wanted to or not.
Now, you know that we have other service options besides the 10:45. And I know that we have other service options besides the 10:45. But the sixty-plus first time guests (and their families!) who showed up on Sunday don’t necessarily know that.
If you’re a Summit attendee and you’re reading this blog, I consider you a regular. (It’s a little-known fact that most people don’t start coming to the Summit based on the insane popularity of the Connections Pastor’s blog…go figure). So as a regular, I have a few assignments for you:
- If there is any way possible, consider changing your preferred service time from 10:45 to something else (Sunday PM, anyone?). I know for many of you, you just can’t, because you serve at 9:00. I’m not talking to you.
- If you do attend the 10:45, listen and watch for the cues. Chris Gaynor, our Worship Pastor, does his best to scoot people in. However, taking a chunk of time out of the service to give detailed instructions on where to sit just isn’t feasible. The first time you hear a seating-related syllable come out of his mouth, you should scoot in. The first time you notice the seating team getting a little antsy looking for empty seats, you should scoot in. The first time you notice the incoming people beginning to back up, you should scoot in.
- Better yet, get up. Relocate to the choir loft. Stand against the wall. Move out to the lobby. Or go home and download the message on iTunes. Remember that if you choose NOT to move, we will be forced to turn people away.
Editor’s note: do you have any old school, Baptist Press-style cartoons that would illustrate this post?