Recently, a few people pointed out a trend to me. At churches across the nation, both big and small, there’s a bit of an revolution going on in the world of ushering. Now, I’ve never been an usher but I have handed things out before, so I feel somewhat qualified to discuss this topic. The bottom line is that ushers are becoming more and more like the secret service. I am of course talking about the group of men and women that are dedicated to protecting the President of the United States of America. That often silent, but dangerous group of people that kind of look like the dark suited bad guys from the Matrix.
How did this happen? Why did ushers become like members of the secret service? I have a few theories:
1. Earpieces and walkie talkies.
As soon as you started wiring ushers for communication, I think we got ourselves in trouble. The walkie talkies were one thing. When they got those, it became fun to come up with handles and nicknames and code words. “This is Tall Paul, we gotta smoky on two looking for three hot seats, I repeat three hot seats.” And the earpieces are even worse. You can’t help but want to give somebody the kung fu grip when you have one of those in your ear. It’s like the time my two year old hit her older sister in the head with the wooden xylophone mallet. She was curious, she just wanted to use it and see what kind of sound a head would make.
2. Hand signals.
What happened to just waving people down to available seats with your arm like a guy dressed as a cow in front of a fast food restaurant? The ushers I see have hand signals like Tom Berenger used in the movie “Sniper.” I can’t tell if they’re saying there are some middle row seats available or if they found a good hiding place in some bamboo down by the creek two clicks away from the drug dealers.
3. Stretching before service.
Musician Henry Rollins used to say that it cracked him up when he’d see his mosh pit fans stretching and warming up in the bathroom before one of his shows. Same goes for church. If you ever see an usher limbering up before service be afraid. Be very afraid.
4. The sleeper hold.
I’ve seen people storm out of church before, but so far, no one I know has received a sleeper hold a la Jimmy “the Superfly” Snuka. But it’s coming, trust me it’s coming. I’m waiting for the day that some punk won’t scoot into the middle and make room for a visitor. The usher will just lean over, sleeper hold the guy and whisper, “Shhh, it’s OK. Just sleep, just sleep.”
Maybe you’re church has not experienced this changing of the guard, but at least now you’ll know the warning signs.