"Ya'll Come On In and Move Down Towards the Front" or "Church People Frustrate Me" Vol. 1
What is our fascination with the back row at church? At what point in a persons life does it become more cool to sit on the back row than on the front? High School? Junior High? If my 3 year old daughter is excited to be somewhere, she runs in and sits on the front row. She wants to be where the action is. At church, she would sit on the stage if we would let her. Maybe we should. "Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
On the other hand, we have adults who will unstack chairs to create a back row as close to the exit as possible when there is plenty of seating available. What are you afraid of? Fire? Flood? Loss of oxygen? Scripture reading? And these people are NOT going to budge. I plead, I prod, I ridicule and humiliate. Nothing seems to work. It's like going to someone's house for dinner and insisting on being served in a different room from everyone else. It makes no sense and it is really challenging for teachers, preachers, worship leaders and others attempting to engage with you in worship (perhaps THAT is what you're afraid of).
The church where I attend has room to grow. We only utilize about half the space in the auditorium. And yet we look like a big donut on Sunday mornings. People sitting up front, some on the sides and others in the back with a big hole in the middle. Do we even like each other?
Some have babies and may need to leave in a hurry if they cry. I appreciate that, but in my family we don't make the people with potentially crying babies sit at the back. We help them and understand that babies sometimes cry. We also don't make Grandma sit in another room. We help her into the room where we are. And if someone has to leave dinner early, we don't hold them in contempt or claim they have ruined our dinner. We wish them well and trust that they would not be leaving early unless it was really important.
What would Rosa Parks say about all of this back row nonsense? There was a time when being allowed to sit up front meant something. Well, I think always sitting in the back means something too. Grow up and join the rest of us. You look awfully tough back there, but I think you're scared (yes, I'm calling you out).
If you are a back row sitter at your church, try moving a little closer this Sunday and let me know how it goes. Ya'll come on in and move down towards the front! Come on, you can do it!