The following is an account of the time where I went to a Pentecostal church service. Let me start off by saying that I am in no way religious at all. I am dating a wonderful girl whose family is indeed very religious. Ever since I was 12 years old I have had an almost paralyzing fear of people in churches. The worship ceremony is what makes me afraid. People chanting, praying, carrying on and whatnot scare the living crap out of me.
I stepped into the church with plenty of preconceived notions, and past biases. My brain was racing with images of extremely radical Church ceremonies, with people running up and down the aisles screaming and speaking in tongues. Flickering in front of my vision was mental images of Dana Carvey playing the church lady on Saturday Night Live, and mental movies of every radically religious person I had ever seen. The video of the Wife Swap God Warrior replayed in front of my eyes. And then I stepped over the threshold of the church.
In my mind my skin crackled as the flames slowly engulfed my whole form. The booming voice of the Lord saturated every molecule of my being telling me that I had forsaken him. As my skin slowly peeled from my flesh by the flames without heat, I immediately regretted my decision. In reality however, nothing of the sort was happening. As I walked through the doors the sound of people singing washed over me. The fear began rising in my throat, and my feet glued themselves to the floor. I was glad my girlfriend was with me, because she slowly pushed me forward towards the main area of the church where everyone was worshipping.
I was pleasantly surprised. There was not as many people as I thought would be there. The twenty or thirty that were there though were worshipping up a storm though. Banging on tambourines, and dancing to the music created by not one organ, but an organ and a keyboard. Microphones were dotted around the group, so the more talented singers could be heard well. I looked over at Sarah, my aforementioned girlfriend, and gave her the “Do I Really Have To Sing?” look.
“No, you don’t have to sing” she assured me, before I even opened my mouth. We just sat there instead, as I began to soak in my environment. There were a bunch of ladies in bedazzled and bejeweled denim dresses, and the men were all dressed in their “Farmers best”, Which is jeans and a button up shirt. After they finished the singing part of the sermon, the talking part began. Being a more conservative of the Christian churches, The preacher was all fire and brimstone, speaking about The rapture being soon, and the fact that we better accept Jesus before it was too late. I fidgeted in the pew, and started to sweat. Sarah looked over at me and asked if I was okay. I replied with a slight nod, and a fearful look plastered to my face. As the sermon progressed my brain slowly began to adjust to what was happening. All my preconceived notions were coming true.
After the sermon finished, I had the chance to mingle with the patrons. I wasn’t to thrilled about this part, considering my introverted nature. But the people were very accommodating, and very friendly, despite the amount of whooping and hollering that was taking place just minutes before. I was pleasantly surprised.
Although nearly 90% of my preconceived notions were confirmed, I was still wrong about one thing. Knowing that I was in no way religious did not seem to faze them at all. All of the stereotypes I developed about Christians seemed to be confirmed. However I went to one of the most conservative churches in the area, so my results could have been skewed.