It’s true but let me explain.
When we are going to arrive late, I hate going to church. All eyes will be drawn to us. Watching as we try to find a seat and slink in as unnoticed as possible. They will wonder why I wore that to church. They will criticize my over-sized body. How I don’t have on cute shoes. And they may question why he is with her.
Who are they?
The monsters I’ve created in my head. The critical women I’ve conjured up in my imagination. The ones who make me so insecure that I don’t want to step foot into the building. There are days that getting into my seat and focusing are a feat in themselves.
Being new to a church amplifies this insecurity a thousand fold. The discomfort of it all is enough to keep me home. And I imagine, the same thing keeps a lot of folks outside the doors of our churches. It’s scary to go to a new church where no one knows you and yet, you know people are watching. They see you because they recognize that you don’t yet belong and that can unravel the steeliest of nerves.
We’ve been new. We’ve been new many times in the past 3 years as we sought our new church home. If you’ve never been a newbie in a church, I suggest you take the challenge to go somewhere one Sunday where you know no one. It will give you a perspective for where others are coming from when you invite them to your church for the first time.
Entering a building where most people know each other, can be hard enough. Throw in traditions that a newbie won’t know and you add to the anxiety being new can produce.
Do we clap our hands to this song like we did at our other church? Do we have to greet others after worship? Will we have to go to the front of the church for communion? Or will we stay seated and watch? Are there rules about who takes communion at this church? Where do our kids go? Will they have fun? Are they safe? Will they know how to find us if they need to come get us? Is it okay to just drop into Sunday school classes?
The next time you see someone new, think about what you can do to make them feel more at home. When you invite someone to church, meet them at the door or pick them up at home. Take some of the anxiety out of being the newcomer by being friendly and asking questions.
And if you suffer from anxiety like I occasionally do, pray about bringing your focus back on the Lord. That’s where it should be when we enter the church to praise and worship. It’s not important what others think of you. It’s important that you are there.
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25
What situations at church make you feel insecure or cause anxiety? What have you found helps ease your anxiety? Do you greet new folks at church? Please share in the comments below.