Did you ever think you would feel awkward at church? Very few things surprise the college student more than leaving for college with dozens of cards and hundreds of dollars from church members, and then returning and feeling awkward at church. There are some easy ways to relieve that awkwardity at church.
First, engage. Get involved. Find a ministry that needs help and fill it. Ask the leadership about helping out in kids or youth ministries. Invest in the elderly. Purposely talk with them after services, and see if you could stop by and help or just visit some afternoon. Think of it, you just spent thousands of dollars to grow intellectually and spiritually at college, and many have never bothered tapping into 50-60 years of experience for free!
Second, interact. After 9 months at college things look the same, but they really have changed. Come to church prepared to ask questions. Ask about what God has been teaching them, ask about their joys/struggles. See if they have any special prayer requests or needs. Now is the greatest time to invest in people and get to know them on an adult level. Ask them how they met their spouse, or the steps they took when looking for a job or buying a house. After being gone, there will invariably be people at church who have never met you, go over and introduce yourself. Who knows if maybe you are one conversation away from making a lifetime friend?
Third, invest. Young people think college students are the bomb! (their word choice not mine) Do you remember how you felt as a junior higher when a college student took the time to talk with you? (If you never had that experience, then I am sorry the selfish, stuck up snobs robbed you of a very meaningful experience, don’t repeat their mistake.) You have an opportunity to shape moldable souls for eternity. You don’t have to teach a Sunday school class or do a weekly Bible study, to affect them eternally. Simply do what you do with a tag-along. If you are a race fan, kick out a few extra bucks and invite a younger kid to go with. If you like fishing, manicures, or whatever, invest in a young life. Remember, Paul’s admonition to be followers as he followed Christ. If you are a terrible role model, and an example of selfishness, then it is best that you stay selfish by yourself and not ruin a young soul for eternity.
Fourth, unveil. Church is meant to be a place where we share our burdens and take out our poky sticks and prompt each other to love and good works (Gal 6:1, Heb 10:24). When was the last time you helped someone carry a spiritual burden? When was the last time you agonized with someone else as they shared Scripture encouraging you to grow? Most people do not even realize that there is a spiritual battle raging in our souls. It is too dangerous to share and open up. The closest we may get to opening up is to share at prayer meeting, that we are struggling “with something”, or ask for an unspoken request. How many fellow warriors know about your battle with pornography? How many believers can raise their shields and help protect you from the assaults of depression, fear of failure, moral lapses, or the constant struggle with faithfulness? If I do not open up, church will become an archaic ritual, instead of a training ground for life.
Finally, pray. How often did you pray for your home church while you were away? How often do you pray for your church right now? If I do not care enough about my church to pray for it, I have already left, and am just waiting for my body to catch up with my decision.
Awkwardity is a very good thing. It reminds us that there are some things that we need to change. If you are not engaging, interacting, unveiling, and or praying, then God’s gift to you at church will be the gift of awkwardity.