Anyone who’s been to high school knows the power of labels. Whether you’re a ‘cheerleader,’ ‘jock,’ ‘band nerd,’ or ‘mathlete,’ your label defines you. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. Why do the hard work of actually getting to know someone when you can just stick a label on them?
Let’s be honest, sometimes church people are weird. They’re unique. So even in church, we have labels. We shouldn’t, but we do. Maybe one of these labels describes you or the person in the next pew over:
1. Good Housekeeping Family – based off the iconic magazine of yesteryear that celebrated perfection in the home, this family is like the Stepford Wives of the religious community. They’re impeccably dressed, irritatingly polite, with not hint of any visible flaw. They stopped sinning when they got potty trained. They project an image of holiness that makes your scandal-filled family seem sinister in contrast. If anyone gets extra credit in heaven, it’s them, not you.
2. The Bible Hitman– Size matters. At least in the size of the Bible. These guys are easy to spot because they proudly carry their 25-pound coffee table family Bible with them to church, usually overflowing with notes to let you know that they love God, and you don’t. They scoff at anyone trying to read their Bible off of a smartphone. No technology allowed. Holiness to God means carting around an oversized, leather-bound, gold-embossed Holy Bible with a minimum of two bookmark tassles. If the Bible doesn’t cause back pain, it’s not big enough.
3. The Faux Worshipper – This is the person who doesn’t want to be there. They pretend to be on their phone reading the Bible, although the sound isn’t turned down enough and you can plainly hear Angry Birds. He’s mastered the art of cupping his hands in prayer while checking the latest scores on his smart phone. It could be a man dragged to church by his wife, or a mom interested more in the free childcare and an hour of sanity than in actually learning something.
4. The Late Bloomer – They didn’t grow up in church. They don’t know the lingo. They’ve never heard of a “Fellowship Hall.” They couldn’t tell you what “VBS” stands for. They want to belong, but since they weren’t raised in church they’ll spend most of their time on the outside looking in, trying to decipher the hidden meanings of church-talk without looking like an idiot.5. The Doctrine Nazi – This is a rarer species, but dangerous nonetheless. He took one seminary class and has read too many blogs, and now he’s the expert at everything. Learn to avoid him, for a simple “hello” can turn into a twenty-minute diatribe on the finer points of Calvinism.
6. The Lone Worshipper – She’s the one person that’s tuned into a different frequency then the rest of the congregation. If it’s a conservative church, she’s the person that puts her hands up at the start of the first song, oblivious to the death stares around her. If she’s at a contemporary church, she’s the person that decides the band needs an extra instrumentalist and brings her own tambourine to help the drummer keep the beat. She stands alone.
7. The Church Whisperers – These are the ones that everyone whispers about when they walk in the doors. They don’t attend regularly. They’ve got some baggage. So when they walk in the door, it’s gossip/prayer request fodder for the church folks to talk about when they come.
8. The Invisibles – They come in and out, under the radar. They don’t make a fuss. They don’t introduce themselves. They’ll come for three weeks before anyone interacts with them, and then it’s to let them know that they’re in someone’s seat. After that, they’ll disappear, to reappear at another church service in search of what they’re looking for. You’ll never know their name.
9. The Pillars – They were born at the church. They raised their kids here. They sit in the same spot every week. If you could make a seat imprint of their pew, it would match their derrier exactly. All that’s missing is a bronze plaque marking their spot every week. The pillars run the place. If there was a cool table at church, they would sit at it.
QUESTION: What labels would you add to this list?