This recent post by Jon Acuff made me laugh. No one casts a more entertaining and knowledgeable eye on church-world than Jon. And as someone who has stood at the microphone and asked people to "Please scoot to the middle," I'm intrigued with the whole scoot or no scoot conversation.
There are two types of people in the world: those who will sit in a seat that’s not theirs at an event and those who won't.
I am in the "won't" category. If I have tickets for the nosebleed section at a concert, that's where I sit. I can't sneak down front and sit in better seats without constantly thinking the rightful owner of that seat is about to show up at any moment. And he's probably an Ultimate Fighter with his concealed weapon permit.
Plus, when you get caught you have to pretend you didn't know you're $10 tickets didn't permit you to sit on the front row. "Wait a second, this is row #1? Let me look at my ticket. Oh, would you look at that! I'm in row #1,000. Simple mistake on my part. Whoops!"
I can't do it. I can't be that guy, which is why I like the seating arrangement at most churches. No one has a ticket. Each Sunday morning is a seat free for all. And it all comes to a head when one of the ministers or elders says one thing:
"Please scoot to the middle so people who just got here can squeeze in."
But every time I hear that phrase three things go through my head:
1. The scoot rewards bad behavior.
I got here early. I've got the end of the aisle on lockdown. If I scoot, people who come late are going to be rewarded for their late behavior. Like a hamster receiving a delicious nut when it presses a lever, they'll associate lateness with primo end of aisle seating. That's perpetuating bad behavior.
2. Can we all vote on a better word than "scoot"?
"Scoot" sounds like a cartoon, make-em up word from Ponyville, the home of My Little Pony. That's a word I want Papa Smurf saying, not one of my church's leaders. I say we change scoot, to "slide." That sounds cool and almost like a hip hop move or a wedding dance that your crazy Aunt always does at the reception.
3. Is this a Boundaries moment?
In their book, "Boundaries," Cloud and Townsend detail healthy boundaries we all need to draw in our lives when it comes to personal relationships and the way we let people treat us. Is there anyway that when someone comes to my aisle and tries to get me to slide, I can just say, "Sorry dude, boundaries?"
4. This is the only place on the planet where the scoot works.
Try to get someone to scoot at a high school football game. Or in a Starbucks. With your coffee and a smile, just walk up to a hip couch and say to a stranger, "Will you please scoot to the middle?" That probably won't be awkward.
5. Can I rescoot if no one comes?
If I do scoot and no one comes, can I rescoot or descoot and claim my previously surrender seat territory? Does that make someone I scooted next to in the middle feel smelly? It's not that they're smelly, they might be wearing Coolwater cologne for all I know, but I like I little space between me and the next guy, a "Baptist buffer" if you will. Can I rescoot?
Fortunately, you are not like me. You will not think these things in church. You do not spend moments of your life thinking about the consequences of "scooting." I'm proud of you, I really am.
But be honest, do you scoot when called upon to scoot?