Okay…hear me out before you roll your eyes. I know we have made fun of the guy who gets upset because someone sat in “his seat” at church. In my immaturity I’m sure I was one of those mocking guys. You’ve heard the comments:
- Hey, did you pay for that seat?
- It won’t kill you to break tradition.
- Change is good. You ought to try it sometime.
- Get a life, dude. My goodness!
Let me ask you a question. Have you ever asked the guy why he likes to sit in the same place each week? I like sitting in the same place each week. No one has ever asked me why I prefer “my seat” each week. Maybe no one cares. I’m good with that. But just in case you’re interested, I want to make a case for sitting in the same place each Sunday.
Here is another question for you. Have you ever driven to work and said something like, “I don’t remember the trip, it was like I was on autopilot”? I think most of us have done that. The first few times you made the trip you probably noticed every intersection, stop sign, peculiar landmarks, and scores of other minor details. Right? The reason you did this was because it was all new to you and your mind was taking in as many possible aspects as it could take in. Our minds are amazing like that.
Let’s suppose that you would like to focus on one thing only and would like to not be distracted by other things. The way I have discovered to remove distractions from my mind and life is by doing the same thing over and over again. Habits help me to remove the unnecessary, while helping me to focus on the important. I discovered this when I first learned how to type. In the beginning, I was overly focused on what keys to strike and less focused on the content on the paper. (In those days there were no computers to learn how to type. I used what they called a typewriter. You can “google it.”)
One of the reasons I like to drive the same way to work each day is so I don’t have to “process the trip.” I would rather spend my time thinking about more important things. If there is a way to remove non-important distractions from my life, then I’m all for it.
This is why I like to sit in the same place each week
Though I have several good purposes for showing up at our church meeting each Sunday morning, there is one purpose that transcends all of the others. My primary reason for participating in our weekly church meeting is to celebrate God’s Gospel. When I think about our Sunday gathering, the Gospel is always the first thing I think about. If I could not gather with the body of Christ to celebrate Christ on a weekly basis, then I would seriously consider not attending our weekly meeting. I say this because the point of the Bible is the Gospel. The point of my life is the Gospel. And the point of gathering should be primarily the Gospel.
Though Lucia and I have served in nearly every aspect of local church programs, none of those ministry opportunities trump our primary reason for showing up on Sunday. We are there to celebrate God first and foremost and this is the reason why I want to sit in the same place each week.
(BTW, If you attend your church meeting, but do not participate in the corporate worship and teaching time, I appeal to you to reconsider your church attendance priorities.)
In search of the perfect seat
I do not want to be distracted. The first time we began attending our current local church we sat in several different places. We did this because we were new to the building where our church meets and we were looking for a seat that would help us celebrate Christ in the most effective way. Here are some things that were important to us regarding our search for the perfect seat:
- We looked for seats where we would be able to see and hear the speaker.
- We looked for seats where we would be able to see the screens where the words of the songs are projected.
- We looked for seats that would allow us to stretch out our arms, if we felt like it, to worship God.
- We looked for seats that would allow us to get on our knees to worship God, if we felt like it.
- We looked for seats that would not be distracting when we were seated.
Once we found our seats we began sitting there each week. In the beginning we were taking in all the new sight lines, the people who were around us, the peculiarities of the section we were in, the acoustics, and more. In time, our seats became part of us, just like my ride to work. While in the beginning there were many distractions, now there are very few, which releases us to do the primary thing that we desire to do at our local church gathering: worship God.
FYI: I do not get mad when someone takes “my seat.” I’m cool with that. In cases where we are late, which is highly unusual because we value our seats, we find another seat in the same area in order to minimize distractions. We only gather corporately once a week, which is fine with us, but it does heighten the desires in our souls to celebrate God as much as the Spirit leads and enables us to do so.
Isn’t change good?
I have changed in more ways than I can remember since God regenerated me in 1984. I’m very glad about the changes that He has brought into my life. However, I cannot say that change is always good. It seems to me that there are a lot of Christians who do not understand when change is wise and when change is not wise. Some believe that all change is wrong, while others embrace too much change.
It is good to filter change through the grid of Scripture rather than the grid of personal experience. For example, some of my current friends, who used to be Fundamentalists, sometimes embrace more change than is wise, which can be an overreaction to their past. Alternately, some of my other friends, who are still Fundamentalists, would do well if they would change some of their ways. Though changing everything is not good, a person cannot grow without changing some things.
When it comes to where we sit at our local church meeting, we filter our seat selection through our primary purpose for attending the meeting, (worshipping God) with our understanding of anthropology, (the study of man) and our understanding of hamartiology (how sin affects man). With these things in mind we’re not planning on changing our seats anytime soon.
Now that you have read our “Theology of Seat Selection at the Church Meeting,” you may roll your eyes…or consider how you might need to change in order to maximize your Sunday worship experience. I only suggest that you don’t sit in our seats.