Many churches are looking to welcome visitors and help them get connected. They want an active congregation, involved in both the work of the church and in the lives of others.
But let’s be honest. That’s a real drag.
Between work and family, you have plenty of people making demands on you. You want the church to be there for you on Sunday and in the event of a crisis. Otherwise, you don’t want to be bothered.
It’s easy to find advice on connecting with a church. It’s harder to locate help resisting this type of connection. I’m here to serve.
The Most Important Principle
Let’s put the best advice on the table: keep to yourself. As much as possible, dodge every opportunity for a deep conversation or friendship.
This is more difficult that it sounds. Avoiding others is easy in an office setting, but most churches are full of people who want to nose their way into your life.
You’ll need to walk a thin line. While you don’t want extra people around, you need to convince the church you’re on the inside. The last thing you want is someone to “evangelize” you. That’s the worst.
To keep those church folks at arm’s length, consider these practical matters.
Choose your seat carefully. — You might be tempted to sit in the last row, but this is a rookie mistake. Seasoned church-goers know this is where avoiders lurk, and they’ll pounce. Instead, aim for 2/3 of the way back in the sanctuary. Here you’ll sidestep the over-eager, way-too-nice families in the front half of the room, but you’ll escape the target that comes with the last row. Grab an aisle seat for a quick exit.
Greet the pastor. — That preacher dude is fast. You’ll never beat him to the exit, so resign yourself to a handshake. Compliment his sermon. Most pastors obsess about their preaching, so this flattery gives you cover to slip out the door.
Act busy. — Nosy Christians will shift into gear when you attend the same church a few weeks in a row. Be prepared: they’re going to start inviting you. To what? To everything. Extra services, prayer meetings, Sunday school, small groups, Bible studies, fellowship meals, you name it. It’s exhausting. The key here is to act busy. Feign interest in the group or class or project they’re promoting, and decline with an apology. After all, you have work/kids’ activities/family time, right?
Attend irregularly. — Don’t attend every week. Make it a point to miss at least one Sunday each month.
Hide. — Not literally, but practically. Wait as long as possible to fill out a contact card, because then they have you. With your phone number, address, or email, they can visit or get in touch with you. Ick. Be polite but withdrawn. Make sure you’re slow to return calls, texts, or emails. With apologies, of course.
Keep conversation fluffy. — Sooner or later, you’ll get trapped in a conversation. Try to steer discussion toward work, weather, or sports. If that doesn’t last, lean on Christian clichés: Mention how much God has blessed you, but focus only on health and safety. Complain about how little regard our culture has for Christianity. Give off an aura of thoughtfulness, but don’t get specific—that might open the door to a follow-up question next week.
Bad News Ahead
Now, for the bad news. You’ve got difficult work ahead of you. In fact, the only foolproof way to slip through the cracks at a good church is to stop attending.
See, those church people aren’t just reaching out because they want a bigger club. They actually love you and want good things for you. They know that connecting with Christians can have a profound spiritual impact on your life.