It’s been a while since I remixed an older post. Usually I only do that if I feel like I completely blew the original post and wasted a good idea with sloppy writing. But recently someone anonymously posted a comment on “#69 Saving seats at church” that made me think I should remix it. Here is snippet of what they said in response to what I wrote on that post:
“What is so terribly wrong with someone saving a seat for their spouse? Sheesh, so sorry that I want to enjoy the message with my husband who is busy ushering the visitors into their seats and helping them get settled. Maybe church should only be for single people and the rest of us can sit out in our car and listen to the radio broadcast. Yeah, that is much more welcoming.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Since the comment was anonymous I couldn’t directly reply to the commenter’s blog or email. And I started to think, “Maybe the original post was unclear. Maybe I need to be more explicit with the rules of church seat saving? Maybe no one’s done that yet and this person is not reacting out of hurt, but confusion and that the kind, generous, dare I say correct way to ‘love on’ them and countless other people is to create a definitive guide to seat saving?”
So that’s what I did and that’s what this is.
7 Things you need to know about saving seats at church:
1. It’s OK to save a seat for your spouse or significant other.
Despite what that reader above said, I was not advocating that you can’t save a seat for your husband. Where would that leave him? I’ll tell you where, sitting on your lap. You’d be all tangled up in a mesh of limbs and hymnals and awkwardness as the people next to you tried to pretend that wasn’t happening. As noted in one of the most surprisingly controversial posts, Massages During Church, I’m not for that.
2. Don’t save a seat for someone at the end of the aisle.
Why would you put that kind of pressure on a visitor? That’s like giving a little kid the emergency exit on a plane. If it’s your first time to church you’re not going to know that I am sitting in the middle of the aisle like a tightly wound spring waiting to be released so that I can grab my kid and race out of the church parking lot. What’s inevitably going to happen is that at the end of the service they will sit in their seat, effectively blocking the whole aisle, telling you that “Hey, maybe I should give this God thing a shot.” But I won’t know that, so I’ll ruin that tender moment by running across the aisle, using everyone’s head as a stepping stone like some sort of scene from a Jackie Chan movie.
3. Once someone has come to your church for 7 weeks, you can’t save them a seat.
Service starts at the same time every week. If your friend has been at least seven times, then they know this. They shouldn’t act surprised on Sunday morning when they wake up and think, “Oh snap, they’re starting church at 9:30 today. When did that happen? Oh that’s right, 1987. I should call my friend and ask him to save me a seat.” If you have an ill grandmother, serve on some ministry, have kids, are late because you were nursing a baby deer that had been hit on the side of the road back to health, etc. you get a free pass on this one.
4. Don’t save a seat with your shoe.
If you’re going to save 47 seats, then grab 47 bulletins. There’s no call for putting a shoe or a mint or taking every key off your key chain and laying them down individually on each seat you want to save.
5. Don’t expect me to help you save seats.
I hate to say no to people. I’ve gotten better at it as people keep asking me to advertise some cuckoo things on Stuff Christians Like (You read the site, saw that there were zero ads and felt like your online gambling websites would be a good fit for SCL? Really?) but in general I hate saying no to people. It’s a problem. I’m working on it. And saving seats for someone often becomes a constant parade of “no.” I had to do it last year at Catalyst as I waited for my little brother and when someone would ask me if they could sit in the seat I was saving I felt like they were saying, “Do you mind if I sit here and worship God? Do you mind if I relieve my weary bones and collapse in this spot of resting and renewal. Ohhh the Gwinnett Arena is so big, won’t you let me sit here please, kind sir?” So if you ask me to help you to save seats, expect me to pass on that opportunity.
6. Release the seats when it appears your friend isn’t coming.
If the announcements are done, the worship music is over, the offering is collected and the sermon is about to start, let that seat go. It’s over, they didn’t come. Set that seat back into the wild. If it really loves you it will come back.
7. I don’t have a seventh idea but I know better than to end a list on a Christian website with 6.
Do you save seats?
Do you break these rules?
Do you have your own?