If you’re an introvert like me, you’ll have inadvertently tried out a few of these yourself at one point or another during your congregational life. I had the opportunity to try them all when I switched to a local Methodist congregation earlier this year:
1. Show up unannounced and disappear immediately after the service: this keeps the ‘welcomers’ on their toes.
2. Attend different services at different times and see if they notice a pattern.
3. Sit in the second seat from the aisle in an empty pew. Look both available to move and unwilling to do so unless absolutely necessary.
4. Sniff their Bibles. Make throaty sound of delight if they smell nice.
5. Don’t look up from the service brochure until the service commences. Forget that you were supposed to pray when you first sat down.
6. Pretend not to see the minister coming down the aisle, greeting people, until the last possible moment. Look surprised but not displeased.
7. Press your face awkwardly against someone else’s because you didn’t know whether they were going for a kissed cheek or an one-armed hug.
8. Go for the coffee afterwards. Take too much hot water; fail to rectify original mistake with adequate amount of milk because of the queue; suffer second-degree burns.
9. Be the only person not to go to the front during the healing service because you have serious misgivings about the arm strength of the people supposed to catch you if you are slain in the Spirit.
10. Harbour a growing suspicion that your presence has discouraged someone who once sat at the end of the pew from you.
11. Try to throw the communion wafer in your mouth with your cupped hands. Miss.
12. Add people from church as friends on Facebook…but only after scouring your timeline, photos and groups, going back at least six months.
13. Forget everyone’s names. Overcompensate with lots of smiling and general evasion.
14. Exhibit extreme lack of rhythm during ‘clappy’ songs as an ode to your previous church’s more sombre attitude to hymns.
15. Make sure your handwriting on the ‘new member’ form is so illegible the church secretary has to call you twice to check your details.
16. Wonder how on earth you’re going to build a bridge across River Awkward without drowning in the process. Remember what God did at the Red Sea. Keep the faith :).