In the current configuration of the Worship Center at Journey, there are distinctive pockets of worshippers who sit in the same seats at every service – the “lefties” at the front left side; the “righties” at the right side; and the “watchers,” who need to use the screens to see well. This blog hears from the “lefties” – why they sit where they do what it means to them. In following blogs we will examine the other seating areas as well. Please submit your story and a photo if you are a “rightie” or a “watcher.”
When I first came to Journey, just behind the front row was the “New Format row.” Soon we took over the left hand side on Friday nights. Ever since then, the left has always felt like home to me. I can look at seats that I have had freedom in. I feel those seats tell parts of my story. It’s home to me.
I have spent most of my life as a Christ-follower on the fringes of the crowd, not trusting people enough to be vulnerable, to be in the middle of things. When I got involved with the prayer team, I began to come closer.Barry Ayers and I pray for Ed before he gets up to preach. This is part of why I sit on the second row. Also, because I am on the team responsible for the weekend services, so it’s a convenient spot in case something is needed during the service. But, in a bigger sense, I have left the fringes and have let Jesus teach me to trust, to be vulnerable, to be seen, and to belong.
Being in front started as an adult at another church. Our Lady of Grace held communion every Sunday. I sat in the front row in order to drink from the cup before anyone else! At Journey it became my usual spot. Most of all though, it just feels more like being part of the celebration. Isnt that why we are all there, to celebrate our gifts from God?
I love sitting on the front left for a bunch of reasons…I can stay focused. I feel more engaged with what’s happening on stage. During worship, it’s where I feel most comfortable to let down my guard and connect with God. I love the sound being in front, behind, and all around me. After several years of sitting in the same area, anyone who’s looking for me knows where to find me. I like that. On any given Friday or Sunday I’ll find friends from my Life Group there…it’s home.
My move back to San Diego was done kicking and screaming and crying all the way down the 5 and 805 freeways. I was ripped from my home and from my son. I was betrayed a man from a relationship of 13 years who secretly married another woman. I found myself back in my parent’s home in my old room, the bedroom I grew up in, only now it didn’t even have a door to hide behind! I was exposed, raw and on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
I still drove up to Newport Beach to church but that was becoming a trigger of raw emotional pain. I needed a new home church even though didn’t know what home was anymore. I asked my pastor if he knew of a church in San Diego and he said, Go to Journey and introduce yourself to Ed Noble.”
I walked into Journey not knowing a soul. I made my way down to the front and just kept going closer to the front, left side of the church and sat down. I noticed a man sitting in front of me but thought nothing of it until he turned around to introduce himself — it was Ed! I was shocked. In Newport the pastors come from the stage NOT the crowd. I told Ed I was to introduce myself to him and tell him I was looking for HOME. Ed told me to come to first steps that day after church! I shared with him I was working on obedience to the Lord and would follow protocol and sign up. I went the following First Step and to the very first Our Journey series.
Why do I sit up front and on the left? I sit at the left hand of God, which is the Hebrew word ” scowl” meaning “dark” to hold a space for anyone who comes to Journey and finds themselves lost and without a home. I pray for light and love and God to surround them. I hold the space for Grace.
I sit on the left because I glommed on to Kathryn last summer while going through my breakup. She took me in.
Where I sit in the Worship Center is all about who I sit with. We all know that is where we can find each other and we never have to say it.
When, for me, is usually Friday, sometimes Sunday first service and, rarely, Sunday second service. But I know each time I go to that part of the Worship Center– center section, left side, four rows back, on the aisle, I’ll see someone I know there. We’ll talk, catch up on life and worship together. And if someone is not there on a Friday night, I’ll notice, I’ll pray and sometimes I’ll email. If I’m not there on a Friday night and haven’t told the group that I’m attending on Sunday instead and why, I’ll be asked about it. We are accountable to each other. We notice. We care. Sitting there means sharing about our lives both inside and outside of the Worship Center.
As for life inside the Worship Center, when I attend Friday service, tall Jim sits in the aisle seat. When I attend first service on Sunday, the aisle seat is left open for whoever comes in later and Ralph, who invited me to Journey to begin with, sits in the seat on my right. When I attend second service, I sit in the aisle seat to have easier access to the prayer corner during worship at the end of the service without having folks move. (I leave my seat during the final worship song.)
I have so many memories, so many firsts, from our row (or the one in front of it or behind it). The people who I sit with were a big part in making all these things possible by being open to God and acting according to His will. I remember the time when I was sitting in first service Sunday and I raised my hand during Ed’s closing prayer about a decision to follow Christ. I remember the first time that I went to the prayer corner for help in making sure I was thanking God correctly for the wonderful answer He’d given to my desperate prayer. (And yes, I was praying with a prayer team member that sits in our section.)
I remember the first time that I left our row with the group to take communion. It made happy sense because I realized during that service, sitting in our row, that I was a Christ-following part of this Christ-following community. I was so excited about being baptized. When the next baptism orientation was announced and I told our row that I couldn’t stay and talk because I had to go to the back risers right away to receive my orientation, there was such love and joy. And the next week, I had to explain all the details about when I knew that I wanted to be baptized and when I raised my hand during the end of service prayer. How wonderful to have been asked and how even more wonderful to keep sharing over the last eight years.
I’m so excited about the newly designed Worship Center because our row will be even longer!! It will be more so much easier to look down the row to see who’s there than it is to look the back to try to figure it out. I also love the way we’ll be surrounding three sides of the stage.
Because of I Live the Journey, the stage will be a part of the whole Worship Center of people, rather than a show in front of a separated audience. We’ll all be more together so I’ll always be sitting with others, never isolated. And that is what I want for everyone who visits Journey. To always feel like they are in community, all sitting together, all including everyone — no one isolated. No one sits alone, ever.