Published: 3 years ago

“The Church is the Only Place Where I Get a Hug”

She meant it as a throwaway comment. I don’t think she grasped the weight of the words that just came out of her mouth.

I overheard it in a breakout session after a training for this particular church’s guest service team. I was sitting with a group, listening in on their discussion, when a gentle lady spoke up. In a soft voice, she said,

I live alone. The church is the only place where I get a hug.

Don’t rush past those two sentences. Let ’em sink in, and think about it for a moment. In a given week, she experiences touch only on Sunday. The church is the place – the only place – where she gets human contact and affirmation. I think we’d be surprised how many people in our congregation this might be true of: the widow. The single middle aged man. The divorcee. The college student.

I’m not advocating for an embrace-fest each weekend, where awkward greeters awkwardly move in for an awkward moment with an awkward-feeling guest. That’s…well…awkward. No, you need to read people’s body language, understand that not everyone is a hugger, and know that if you don’t know ’em, a handshake is plenty.

But for those in your congregation that you do know, for those with whom you have a relationship, and for those that are on their own, maybe the best thing you can do this weekend is hug ’em. It might be the only place it happens.

What are your thoughts on this? What is the “hug culture” in your congregation? Comment below.


(photo credit)

  1. Carlin says:

    While I too don’t advocate hugging everyone who walks through the door, the MAIN REASON I started attending the church I am currently serving as Kids Director is because a pastor stood at the back of the auditorium every week for my first two months and gave me a gigantic “we care about you, sweetie” hug on the way out each week. Yup. Not the music, not the sermons – the hug was what made me stay. I was 21, had just moved to a new state, lived alone, had NO family around, and was starting a new, very stressful, job. I rarely conversed with anyone else when I came in on a Sunday morning. But I looked forward to that hug each Sunday. I could have easily gotten lost in 1500 people, but in that moment, I knew I was valued and loved. You’re right, you have to read people – but I’m sure glad Pastor E. saw the lonely girl walking out each Sunday and gave her the encouragement she needed.

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