My church typically has around 250+ people that attend service weekly. You know how it is...you come into church... say "hello" to those people that you pass by on the way into the sanctuary... make a "bee-line" to YOUR seat... have light conversation with the "acquaintances" that sit around you... you listen to the sermon... have light conversation after the sermon... say goodbye to people on the way out to your car and drive home. Wait until next week and repeat the process. Now it may not go EXACTLY as stated (you may have more in-depth and meaningful conversations with people, mingle more, etc.), but this would be a "general" idea of what most people do on Sunday.
Today in church, prior to service beginning, I noticed an older woman and a younger man (probably her son) sitting in the row behind us that I had never seen before. Wanting to be friendly and make sure they felt welcome, I turned around and introduced myself and said, "Hello, Welcome to Trinity Chapel, is this your first time here?" Her response? "Well, no, I've been attending here for over 13 years now!" Obviously, this was an "open mouth, insert foot" moment for me. I was so embarassed! I shook their hand and slowly turned around and sat back down.
During announcements, my pastor said that anyone visiting the church for the first time should fill out an information card. I turned to the woman and her son and said in jest, "Now don't forget to fill out one of those cards!"
After the service, we spoke further and I apologized again. I found out that our church supports her grand-daughter as a missionary to the Dominican Republic. When she mentioned her grand-daughter's name, the irony went even further. I suddenly realized that her grand-daughter and I were Friends on Facebook! Pretty neat, huh?
I don't think there's really any excuse for me not to at least recognize someone that I attend church with, much less someone who's been faithfully attending for over 13 years! Yes, it turned out to be funny, but there's definitely a lesson here. The lesson for me? Try to get to know people more that don't necessarily sit near me. It's going to be difficult, but I'll have to step out of my "comfort zone" on this one!