Bench Warmer

Go back with me to more simpler times. Before church sanctuaries doubled as event centers.  Before you could give your tithes via the click of a button. Even before there were padded hook together chairs. I mean waaay back. Like, 30 years ago when I was still allowed to bring toys to church. Any by ‘toys’ I mean paper and a few color crayons. The quiet kind of toys that miraculously kept me quiet for at least an hour.

And let me tell you, the hour was just the first two songs. Our church was way ahead of Hillsong on the long drawn out songs. Growing up my entire life going to church (which I still enjoy) it wasn’t all Sunday school songs and snack time. So here are a few bench warmer thoughts and insights.

  • The Song Change-up: When I was younger we could go to pretty much any number of local churches and sing from either the brown book or the blue book. It sounded the same, everywhere I went, no changes. Even if it was sung so high only dogs could hear it. No change. Now, it seems impossible to get a song to be sung the same because every worship team wants to “make it their own”. I’m not saying we need to be carbon copies but it is nice to visit a church and actually be able to sing along without fear of being that one voice singing a solo when there isn’t supposed to be one.


  • The Bum Rush: I have been on the receiving end of this. My Dad was an evangelist before pastoring for most of my life up until I was a teenager. So we visited a ton of churches up and down the West Coast. Let’s just say some churches were so eager to have new faces that they would basically make a tunnel for us to run through as we entered the church. Now, as a visitor it’s nice to feel welcomed but to be smothered, not so much. A nice ‘hello & handshake’ will always suffice. At least let me get to know you before you decide to give out bear hugs.


  • We Have A Runner: There have been many times when I have visited churches and never returned. It’s not that your church was bad it’s just not a great fit. My husband has a phrase, ’31 flavors of churches, if Baskin Robbins can do it why can’t we?’ However, sometimes it was them and not me…for instance one church expected their congregants to run around the church (literally) as they played music. I go to the gym to exercise, not Sunday service. But to each their own.


  • Sermon For Eternity: Back before our nice padded chairs there were pews. Yes, wooden, hard, cold pews. Maybe it was to keep us from getting too comfy during the sermon (not about eternity but for eternity). I’ve spent a great deal of my childhood asleep on church pews. Or asleep under them on the floor. Or asleep leading on my Mom’s shoulder. And no, I didn’t have a sleeping disorder. It used to be that the longer the sermon the more spiritual it was thought to be. Well let me just say for the sake of those who are trying to politely yawn behind their Bibles, if you can’t make a point in 90 minutes maybe you’re in the wrong profession.
  • Tight Tights: I should probably apologize to my Mom for the month of Sundays (literally) that I fought with her about my church dress code. I’m sure I begged and pleaded to wear my sweats to church more than a few times. My sweet Mother would walk into my room where I was supposed to be getting ready and find me still bare legged trying to buckle my church shoes. Not gonna happen, she’d wrestle me into my tights and I’d complain pretty much the entire time. Now if you enjoy the constant tugging and pulling up that comes along with wearing tights (or nylons), have at it. But I wanted to run around outside with my cousins after church and tights just weren’t going to cut it. Which brings me to today’s ‘dress wear’ for church. I’m a little older now so I don’t wear my sweats but let me tell you I’ll wear the heck out of leggings! With a modest long shirt of course 😉


I have seen the good, the bad and the hilarious in churches. I’ve been to the smallest, wood stove heated church and the state of the art stadiums. I’ve heard world known speakers and little old ladies share their hearts. I’ve experienced God in these and everything in between. That’s what I love about it, there’s no formula for a perfect church as long as we are loving God and loving others; just like He said to.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:16) When we gather, rather in large masses or tiny kitchen tables, let’s set aside pretenses. Let us bring encouragement, love and open arms to the table of grace because we are all there by His invitation.