I go to church to socialize. I use the term ‘socialize’ loosely here because my socialisations often include eventually sharing a bed passionately (or a dark parking lot) and then ignoring each other for a long time.
Socializing in the church is a subtle art, hidden underneath the false notion that I’m there for my weekly spiritual refreshment. Church elders would call this a blasphemous act.
If it’s a lover you want, why not go to a bar? They’d perhaps curse judgmentally, hypocritically, forgetting that they too look for lovers among their flock.
The first step in church socialization is my dressing. As a matter of fact, I should already know what I’ll wear next Sunday this Sunday.
Fashion is an important part of the modern church, and as a modern churchgoer, I have to look the part. But this is also the trickiest part.
Christianity is structured such that any hem that reaches above the knees for women is considered a sin, even though the reverends and bishops themselves are known to salivate over high reaching hems and slits.
I may wear a trouser, but I better be careful how I wear it. I better watch out how the clothing fits around my hips. I don’t want my bum to be the main topic of gossip discussion at the women’s guild meeting.
What was she trying to show us? The mortified middle-aged matrons would rebuke. In real sense, they are not agitated over what I’m trying to show them, but what I’m trying to show their husbands.
Thus, my choice of attire should flatter my figure modestly. My ensemble should scream something about my financial status, real or feigned, “without being obvious”.
They should notice me while I pretend I don’t notice them noticing me. Wearing the same thing almost every Sunday will make them notice me, alright, but not in the way I want, so at times I borrow outfits or take them on loan to spruce up my style.
The next step in church socialisation is the entrance. How I make my entry matters every single Sunday. This is my red carpet moment.
This is when other congregants will get a chance to see my outfit and catch a choking whiff of my knock-off designer perfume.
If I want the church to remember me, this is my chance. Will I make a grand entry and argue with the usher giving me a flyer at the entrance or will I enter through a smaller hidden door at the side?
The timing of my entry is just as crucial. Am I arriving early when the church is still being swept or am I sauntering in mid-service when the pastor is at the hallmark of his or her sermon and steal the show?
Where to sit is the next step. If you are new, you might take time deciding where to sit, and might sit at different places each Sunday until you find the ideal spot.
A regular on the other hand may have a particular place they prefer to sit every week. Some prefer to sit at the back or near the exit and others at the front.
Others prefer to sit where they are easily seen and others would rather no one knows they are there. Some sit with friends and others sit with strangers.
If I find someone sitting on my spot I will not ask them to leave but I will spend the entire service looking at them vindictively.
Leaving is the last part of church socialisation. Some people sneak out before the service closes and others stay to the very end.
Here, people mingle at the churchyard and catch up as they depart, and you are likely to overhear statements full of arrogance and self-importance cloaked piously under ‘testimonies’ and ‘blessings’.
If I want to approach someone, this is the perfect moment. If I want to avoid someone, this is not the best place.
Disappearing from the church premises happens in many ways. You may leave the way you arrived or you may leave with someone to socialise further.
If you arrived with your car, you may leave with some sly non-paying passengers who think you’re an Uber driver.