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Church Brats in Church Buildings

November 3, 2010

I’ve been out of the country on a mission trip; it’s been a while since I have posted.  I thought a few lighthearted memories might be in order.  This is written for all other church brats who endured business meetings that made you pray for the return of Christ and stayed for late choir practices that afforded the best fun of the week. 

I was a “church brat” as a kid.  This is the term I use to describe kids who grow up in church and become carriers of its strange culture.  My dad was a minister, so I spent a lot of time at church buildings.  I knew where the candy stash was kept.  I have walked across the railing of a balcony before.  I knew how to use the buttons on the phone with an intercom on it.  The secretaries loved it when I came to work with my dad!

Nothing compared to exploring the building when no one was around.  OK, I admit it.  I have done a cannonball in the baptistery before.  Sue me.  They shouldn’t have left the water in there if they didn’t want it to happen.  I also ate 100 communion “chicklet” pellets at one time on a dare.  I admit it.  At least 50 times I have rolled underneath pews from the back of the sanctuary to the front.  A few of those times might have occurred while the service was going on – there’s no way to be sure at this point.  I do know that rolling is better on a sanctuary floor that has a slope. 

Something had to occupy my time until I got to wear my chaps at the next “Western” Sunday. 

If you have never been in a church building when it is empty, then you may not know that it can be scary.  Churches tend to have lots of corridors, nooks and crannies to explore.  They also have storage areas and furnace rooms.  These are dark furnace rooms that make strange noises and have pungent smells (think mothball mixed with paint thinner).  Most churches even had a room where the bodies of dead deacons were laid to rest – at least that’s what my friend told me.  I didn’t believe him.  However, I stayed clear of that room just in case. 

But without a doubt, my greatest moment of exploration was when I crossed the cultural barriers into the ladies’ restroom.  Don’t get all alarmed, no one was there.  I was sure it was empty.  Well, mostly sure.  What I can tell you with certainty is that it was a world like I had never seen before.  It was bright and colorful.  It was painted and accented with wallpaper.  The men’s restroom was like a prison cell with cold gray paint and absolutely no decorations.  The women’s restroom had a couch.  Men would never want a couch.  We want to get in and out of public bathrooms as quickly as possible, unless there are TV screens in it.  Women, of course, visit the restroom in packs (notice I didn’t use the word “herds” on purpose).  I figured out that, since women visited the bathroom in multiples, a couch was needed so one could sit while the others took their turns. 

They also had potpourri.  I think the men’s bathroom had a 5-year-old car freshener that said “new car smell” on it.  I won’t even attempt to tell you what it normally smelled like.  The women’s restroom smelled like flowers mixed with honey and then more flowers. 

Now, my memory might be fuzzy at this point, but I think there was a church staff member in that restroom ready to give a pedicure at a moment’s notice.  You never know when you might have a nail emergency.  All I can tell you is that I was never the same after that.  I never went in the ladies’ restroom again, but I always felt a little jipped from then on when I went to the men’s restroom. 

People always look at pastor’s kids with sympathy.  It is true that we had some extra pressure on us.  The people around us had higher expectations of us than they did other kids, and it was heavy at times knowing that my family reputation was somewhat in my hands.  However, the thing no one ever tells you is that people took notice of our lives – and this was a blessing.  They prayed for us, invested in us and encouraged us in ways most kids never experienced.  I thank God for all of the people (and there were many) who thought it was worth their time and effort to invest in my life.

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