So last night we had our second evening service, and although we didn’t have the enormous turnout of students we’d had last week (it turns out the unis’ CU have organised for the freshers to do a tour of all the major local churches until the end of October, at which point they’ll all decide where they want to go) there were still a few students showing up.
Well, before the service I was standing about chatting to my friend Stephen and, as often happens when we start talking, it got a bit surreal. We ended up having a huge discussion about when, if ever, it is appropriate to go to church simply with the aim of finding a wife, and Stephen was telling me about one of his friends who had done exactly that. But the exact phrase he used was “capturing a wife”, which summoned up the idea of traps and nets and all manner of probably inhumane methods. This is a fairly typical Steve and Stephen conversation – starts sensibly enough, and then goes a bit daft and borderline inappropriate.
Anyway, it was at this point that our pastor came up to say hi to us, and then added, “guys, there are some new students over there, you might want to go and chat to them”. Now, I’m all for trying to welcome people, and I definitely think we should make an effort to talk to new people (or even people who aren’t new but who we don’t really know yet), but it is something I find really difficult and get quite self-conscious about. And Stephen and I thought about it for a moment, and then reasoned that, even with the best of intentions, it might be a little dodgy for two 30-year-old men who have just been having the conversation we had just had to go up to three 18-year-old girls and say, “hey ladies, do you come here often?” (Of course, we would’t really phrase it like that… we’d probaly be less subtle…) So we stood there for a while, wondering what we should do, and then a female friend of ours went over to introduce herself to the students and we sighed a big sigh of relief.
Incidentally, after the service some of our regular lads in their late teens were trying to summon up the courage to go and talk to the girls… although they insisted it wasn’t like that… they were just going to say hello and make friends… honest…