Sunday, July 7, 2013

The "Unplanned" Seating Plan

Police arrest man after fight over seat saving at LDS church

I guess most people are surprised by reading this news and think “how would LDS who claim to ‘love one and another’ all the time act like that?”, “It’s just a seat…so lame!!” You might not agree with me, but I suggest that most chapel has an “unplanned” seating plan drafted by its congregation. Members designate themselves into different areas of the chapel and unintentionally mark out their territories. 

Let me show you the floor plan of the chapel of my home ward. 

I have been going to this chapel for almost 12 years. During this period of time, I went on a mission for 18 months and attended BYU-Hawaii for 2.5 years. I have to say that this “unplanned” seating plan has not changed a bit. You always find the same families/people sitting in the same zone. I am guessing that the bishopric would find it convenient to them to track who is in and who is not.

My seating plan journey goes like this: I started sitting in the “Missionaries with Investigators” zone. After a couple months, I moved to the “Single Adult Zone” since my fellowshippers were single sisters in my ward. Occasionally I sat in “Family Zone 4” when the seats in the “Single Adult Zone” were filled (Yes, we do have a lot of single sisters in my ward). This seating practice continued on after I returned from my mission. After I graduated from BYU-Hawaii and returned to my home ward, I usually sit in the “Family with Young Kids Zone”. Occasionally I sat with a family I acquainted with in “Family Zone 1”. I tried a few times sitting in “Family Zone 2”. I remember I received faces indicating it was a bit strange to see me sitting there. I never land “Family Zone 3 & 5”.

I believe that the congregation is not intended to mark out their territories in the chapel. It is just a usual practice for them to sit in certain areas of the chapel. It is their comfort zone. I am not sure if the man arrested was angry because his “comfort zone” was invaded or he and the man got hurt have some other issues going on. This incident alerts us that unintentional act will lead to serious consequences. As the Bishop in that congregation said it is a good lesson for all of us.

I propose a “switch-the-seats-and-break-the-comfort-zone-day” to congregations who have this “unplanned” seating plan. You may find it awkward as first (just like what happened to me when I sat in “Family Zone 2”), but eventually I expect amazing things would happen when we break our comfort zone.

Hopefully we do not have to fight for a seat. 


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