I’ve never been to a Mormon church, Buddhist shrine, or an Islamic temple. Sometimes when I’m travelling around the country my curiosity peaks and I think about stopping in for a service or “mass,” or whatever they call it, but I can never get the courage. Strange, isn’t it? I’d rather live in ignorance than risk embarrassment.
There are a few reasons. There are some things I just don’t know.
- I don’t know if I’m allowed. I mean, I know that I’m technically allowed, but I’m socially permitted. In fact, I’m not even sure I’m wanted.
- I don’t know what to do once I walk through the doors. Can I just go and sit down anywhere I want? Is there some ritual I need to perform before I sit down? What are the procedures and protocols?
- I don’t know the building’s floor plan. Will it be easy for me to find the auditorium/sanctuary/holy-of-holies/etc? Where are the washrooms? Where do I put my kids or do they stay with me? (Speaking of kids, are they allowed? What about my type of kids?)
- I don’t know if people will stare at me. Or will I be singled out and put on the spot to be cleansed or purified or sanctified or…
- I don’t know what I don’t know. Will there be surprises that I haven’t thought about yet? I sort of feel that I’m going to go all “Mr. Bean Goes to Church” on them. Alleluia… alleluia… allelu…lu…lu…yah…yah.
- I don’t know what I do throughout the service. Do I stand? Do I sing? Do I speak? Do I have to participate in communion? Do I sprinkle something or someone? Who gives me permission to do the things must be done? Does the priest speak English? Can I wear my shoes?
- I don’t know what to wear. It looks like people wear suits or robes (on television), but the people I see in their parking lot look mostly casual. So, being so keenly aware of fashion, what do I wear?
Anyway, I’ll probably never conquer my uncertainties and walk through their doors. It makes me wonder what barriers people face before visiting our churches. After all, many people think we are a cult.
This Sunday, try pretending it’s your first Sunday. How do you feel? And now, what do we have to change?