At church on Sunday I made my way to the second row and sat alone behind the empty front row. This is not a post asking for sympathy or reassurance. It's not about asking people to sit at the front. It's just a reflection that I'm still thinking through.
Why don't we sit together at church? Or more accurately, why am I sitting alone?
At our church it seems that people tend to sit in families (though the word couples would be more accurate). Mind you, I don't see a lot of the rest of the church from the second row, so maybe there is some inter-family mingling. I either sit alone, if J is playing the piano that week, or just with J. Sometimes someone might sit in the same row as us, but on the end, with a gap between us.
I know that part of the reason that we sit alone is because we're at the front. Even in a congregation with a very low percentage of young people the concentration of people is towards the back rows. That's part of the reason I sit at the front, to try to encourage others to fill the seats from the front too (after two years, I don't think it's working).
Perhaps I could go and sit with someone else, but it has been very rare for someone other than J to sit with me so now I've become a bit shy about joining someone else in their row.
I remember a similar seating structure at our old church back home: people sat in family units. And I understand the practicality of this: sometimes a whole family takes us a whole pew, and it's helpful for the parents to be able to block their young children into their row. But it was different at the evening service of the church where J and I met. This service was made up mostly of youth and young adults, and some of their parents. No one sat alone. The church was very social and you would always sit with your friends. People didn’t sit in family units, but they still stuck with people they knew and were comfortable with.
If we as a church are a family under our Father God then we should feel comfortable and able to sit with people at church who aren't part of our biological family. We shouldn't need to leave gaps between people.
And if the Christian faith is more than a personal and private experience then our time of corporate worship should not be spent alone as if it were.
I think this means I should give up the second row and sit with others.