The Christian Loitering Circle

young adults hanging out
A few months ago, I wrote about a most frustrating Christian phenomenon: The Christian Dance Circle. This past weekend, I was reminded of yet another Christian “circle” — perhaps you recognize it: The Christian Loitering Circle or the CLC (What is it with Christians and large circles? Seriously.).

This past Sunday, as the church service ended, my small group and I agreed that we’d go out for lunch as usual. After ten minutes of talking with people, I signaled my crew and we started leaving. As I headed out, I passed by another group of young adults, and after exchanging passing greetings, I noticed one of their members was staring at me in amazement.

“What?” I asked, slowing down. “Everything OK?”

“You guys are leaving already?” she asked. “How’d you decide where to eat lunch so quickly?”

I laughed then, and I laugh now thinking about it. For those of you who have never experienced this, young adults can often stay over half an hour after church, standing around, not really sure what they want to eat — or do. A few half-hearted suggestions are thrown out, but always with profuse assurances that they’ll be happy with whatever everyone else decides.

I don’t know for sure why the CLC exists. Sometimes I think it’s because people are too scared to share their own opinions for fear of either appearing selfish or inconsiderate of others’ feelings. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because everyone’s scared that other people might not like their ideas, or perhaps they’re just worried that the food at their restaurant might be bad that day. It’s hard to know.

That said, for whatever reason, the CLC is a thing, despite the fact that there are many people who are probably thinking, “I’m hungry, let’s decide now.” So for you, my brethren, let me tell you how to deal with a circle of young adult Christians who are having trouble making a post-church service dining decision: Just decide what you want to do and go.

It’s really that easy.

See, if no one is offering any strong opinions, there’s no pull in any direction, and inertia (fear, indecision, insecurity) will keep the group where it is. However, if someone, you — the one who is hungry — simply inform the group of your decision and start moving, that’s already one part of the group in motion, which will eventually break the stagnation of the CLC.

In the case of this past Sunday, that’s basically what I told my friend. After a brief smirk and chuckle, I shrugged and replied, “Anyway, it’s where I want to eat, so that’s where we’re going.”

It’s funny, I haven’t figured out whether the subsequent stares I got were admiration, awe or pure judgment, but it sure did break up the nearly impenetrable CLC — and that’s saying something.

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