I was in Manila about three weeks ago, and as is my custom whenever I go there, I attended Sunday Service at a mega church with a friend.
It was for a variety of reasons, but we ended up late. But only 10 minutes late. Now, I’m not justifying myself or debating the wrongness of being late — late is late and it’s irresponsible and wrong, but holey moley the place was filled up and we had nowhere else to sit!
That morning I learned the first valuable lesson of Mega Church Seating Dynamics (MCSD):
Every minute late corresponds to a hundred seats taken (Lesson 1), and yes, I know that’s an assumption with no scientific or statistical basis, but let’s just go with it.
So anyway, that means a thousand seats taken for the ten minutes we were late. And when it’s this kind of mega mega church, the ushers really are — bless their volunteering hearts — no help at all. Not that I blame them. You can hardly expect them to find seats for everyone in this crowd.
So there we were, looking abroad and beyond at the rows and rows of seats, looking for any free seats we might squeeze ourselves into…
Then! Lo and behold, an entire row of seats with NO ONE IN IT! An entire row! All to ourselves!
My friend was ecstatic and relieved, but I, whose mega church navigation sense is a little more honed, smelled something suspicious. Why isn’t this row occupied? Still, we settled in.
Five minutes later, my suspicions were confirmed. And I learned a second valuable lesson in MCSD:
There is a reason a row is free: A free row is a portal row (Lesson 2). I was five minutes into praise and worship, with my eyes blissfully closed, trying to tune in and get my holy groove in, if you get what I mean, when I felt something brush my nose and my elbows. Rather, someone. It was someone passing through our row. Then there was another someone passing. And another, and another. And another.
It dawned on me: that row was a passageway to the other seats in the more western part of the church building! And we had unwittingly set ourselves as hindrances, like boulders, to the stream of people coming in and passing by.
When you’re a boulder to this stream, give up all hopes of being able to “worship” (Lesson 3). I mean, worship as in “sing with the praise and worship team” (of course I know what worship is and that whole thing, I’m a missionary! Duh.). Kinda hard to “worship” with people nudging my nose every 2 to 5 minutes.
It was irritating. Really, REALLY annoying. There I was trying to worship, but these late people! Ugh. (Real spiritual, I know. Yes, I have my moments.)
I tell you, those remaining minutes of praise and worship were the longest, most patience-trying minutes ever. But just as I was getting out my judge’s robe and about to sentence all these people to mild damnation, the Holy Spirit spoke and rebuked me. Thank God.
Since I identify myself as a progressive learner, I’ve decided to take these valuable lessons to heart so I can “grow” from these experiences, and so, in application:
1) Not take those portal row of seats again. Ever. And,
2) Find free seats elsewhere, no matter where it is, EVEN if it’s in the middle of an already filled row. I will risk the ire and irritation of the people and get to that seat no matter what. We can even make a game out of it! The objective: See how many feet you can manage not to step on getting to that coveted seat. Very exciting.
Or, I could just arrive early.
But where’s the excitement in that?
And you? Any crazy mega church experience you got?