Get Up and Greet the Person Next to You

I didn’t realize this was a prevalent part of a Sunday morning. Not until last week.

“Does your church do this?”
“Do what?” he asked.
“The ‘get up and greet your neighbor’ thing,” I laughed.
“Yeah,” he said.
“Doesn’t yours?” his friend asked as we settled back into our seats.
“No.”
“Wow.”

“Wow.” I cannot communicate the tone of disbelief in his voice with my own words. I could feel his surprised hesitation push against me and my history.

My church doesn’t have a designated part of the morning when we shake hands with people. We don’t have to.

Everyone at my church knows everyone else. There are some we know better than others, but we know names. We know hearts.

My home congregation doesn’t need to be told to greet each other. It’s a way of life. There are warm welcomes and hugs automatically. New faces are greeted with genuine interest. People catch up on the events of the last six days without being asked.

I never knew this wasn’t the norm until I left. I never realized how unique and beautiful my home church was until I didn’t have it anymore.

Nearly every church I’ve visited thus far at college has had this as a staple of the service. As an outsider, I can say that I do not feel edified afterwards. As a visitor, I’m already nervous. Shaking hands with strangers does nothing to make me feel a part of the Body.

And for me to be considered the odd one…that’s odd to me.

Why don’t more people intentionally come to church early? Why do we squeak in the door in time for the first song to begin playing? Why don’t we know more names? Why do we have to assign greeters? Why?

Why is it abnormal to know one another as a congregation?

There’s nothing wrong with asking people to get up and greet one another. It just hurts my heart sometimes, knowing that those brief moments of shaking hands and smiles are the most fellowship the church knows within the actual service.

I don’t mean to attack congregations for not being like my home. That’s the beautiful part of the church! I’ve enjoyed exploring new places, new teachings, and new denominations. I simply wish that communion with one another as people and believers extended over the whole Church until it was the norm.

 

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