Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How to Save Church

I love going to church, really I do. The funny thing I've noticed about church, no matter if it was when I lived in Indiana, Hawaii or Utah, is the characters rarely change. Correct me if I'm wrong, but these "types" seem to be in every church...

Sister Gossip - If you wanna know what's going on with ANYONE at church, Sister Gossip is sure to know. She thrives on getting up in everyone's "bidness". She is the Harriet Oleson of the congregation and she usually starts sentences with, "I don't usually gossip, but..." and "You didn't hear this from me, but..."
Mister Scriptorian - In my experience, this person is usually a man. He knows the scriptures inside and out and it doesn't stop there, either. He knows the exact spot in the exact village where Jesus turned the water into wine. He knows what year the Tower of Babel was erected off the top of his head. He is very pleased with his plethora of knowledge, and will gladly share it even when you DIDN'T ask.

Granny Goody-Goody - This is the old lady that sits and watches and keeps tabs on who is or isn't there. She is quick to cast judgment pointing out other people's sins, and "breathing" hellfire and damnation. Basically like SNL's Church Lady. "Could it be...SATAN???"
Then there are other characters like the couple with 20 kids, the lady with the HUGE bouffant hairstyle to match her big bootie, the do-gooder family that is always feeding the homeless or babysitting for free. There's the woman that loves to sing in church, though her voice may be a bit overbearing. There is the old man with the plaid suit who's hearing aid is turned up so loud you can hear the squealing throughout the chapel. There is the weird guy that seems just a little "off" due to years of drug abuse before finding Jesus, and of course don't forget the Perfects!

Brother and Sister Perfect have a Perfect Marriage, a Perfect House and Perfect Children. Brother Perfect has the Perfect job while Sister Perfect gets to stay at home and bake her Perfectly-Perfect Peach Pie Perfection. And they are just so happy, always smiling, and seriously, so blessed and everything in their lives is so....perfect!

Ok, so now that we have the characters down (you recognized some, right?) let's talk about how to "save church". I'm talking about those Sundays that it's just hard to be there (even tho, like I said, I LOVE church). Perhaps you're too tired to listen or the speaker is a little dry (this never happens, right?). In any case, you're there and you don't want to get up and leave cuz you don't want to offend anyone or let on that you're bored, plus it's just not the right thing to do, right? So, here are some things (Heaven knows I've done) in an effort to "save church".

Thumb through the hymnal - pretty soon you find yourself thinking, "hey - that's a good one. We haven't sang that one in a long time". Or maybe you're reading the words and realize that you never really knew what that song was even about until just that second. You may not be listening to the talk, but at least looking at the lyrics to a hymn is good for the soul.

Make lists - I am a good list maker during church. I have made lists of menu items for an upcoming party as well as who to invite. What things to pack if I'm going out of town. Names I always wished I could have given my children. Or anything else I can come up with. Now, the key to making lists, is to look up at the speaker every few seconds. This will make it appear to everyone around you that you are taking copius notes. If anything, you will notice THEM straighten up a little in their seats. See, now you've got them thinking, "Wow - if she's taking notes, this must be important. I'd better pay attention."

Help with Small Children - Start a little finger play with the kid in front of you that continues to turn around and stare. Let the crying child come and sit by you so you can "help" them color. If you have a lot of little kids at your church, start carrying snackies in your bag, for emergencies; there are sure to be a lot of emergencies when speakers are boring young mothers need your help.

People-Watch - ok, so though this alternative won't save your social graces or your soul, it is the most fun. This is probably the number one thing I do at church. In part, I can't help it cuz I am a fidgeter and my mind just wanders. It is very hard for me to sit still. Anywho, here are just some of things I have noticed in my church-people-watching experience:
  • Family A is irritated cuz Family B sat in their pew! How dare they! Don't they know that Family A ALWAYS sits there???
  • The organist and chorister struggling for musical "power". The organist will either play too fast or too slow while the chorister tries to maintain the beat. Sorry sister, even if the organ SHOULD follow you - half the congregation doesn't even know what your waving arm means. They are gonna follow the organ. You lose.
  • Spanking Parents. You can always pick out the spanking parents in church. Their kids start to act up and they do not want others to know about their little discipline style, so they are acting all sweet. Give it a few minutes, and soon you'll see gritted teeth through their fake smiles. Finally, it's a dead giveaway when the dad "reaches" for Tommy's arm and Tommy yells, "OUCH! You're HURTING me!" Or when he takes Temper-Tantrum Susie out and on the way she is screaming, "No! I don't wanna go out! I don't want you to spank me!!!"
Trust me, the list goes on and on. There are so many things to see and so many stories to figure out or make up while people-watching at church. Of course, let it be said the ideal thing would be to pay attention and be so enthralled with the talk that you are rivoted and just cant peel your eyes from the pulpit. But we all know that isn't gonna happen all of the time. So, if you ever find yourself having a hard time on Sunday, try one of the above techniques and you too can "save church".


Anonymous said...

Love your hair curly, but think I like it straight better!

Mrs. S said...

You silly girl. Congrats on the spooky banner!

And I know sometimes when church isn't speaking to me, that's when God is. So I try to listen and pray to see what He's saying.

And I've been in those churches, but never all of those people at one time. We've found a really great church where the people are so sweet, even the old ones. I don't know if we'll ever find one this great again.

Blog Stalker said...

People watching is my fave!

And remember, The Perfects only seem perfect. We all have our trials and either they have to deal with something I can't see or their trial is coming. Honestly this is the hardest thing for me, not being annoyed with those who sem perfect.

Too funny with all the characters. I have seen ALL of them at one time or another. But what about "Oblivious to volume of children" This couple will let their kids cry, scream, laugh etc. no matter how loud they get, there is no threat to take them out or even attempt.

Great post!

Have a great day!

okeydokeyifine said...

I see a lot of people in my ward in your blog. I even see myself, and I won't tell you which one.

I determined a long time ago that I was gonna try to get something out of church even if the speaker is weak or dry. It is quite the challenge. I did okay until You-know-who moved in with her children. It is hard to get as much out of the speakers as I have in the past, but it is important that they be there and I get a chance to help them learn reverence.

I know a lot of adults that could learn reverence too. But that is another story.

Willeyes said...

We don't know anyone like that do we?:) Seriously funny. I love people watching...everywhere. You definetly hit the nail on the head with some of your descriptions. I'll jot these suggestions down and pull them out next time i need to "save church" Thanks:)

hollibilly said...

Yep. Those people are definitely in our ward! My fav - Granny Goody-Goody...

Annikke said...

Thats funny! I think you are right, there is always the same group in every church, every religion.

Anonymous said...

I think you go to my church! haha All of the church characters are people at MY church! I am always making lists in church and people watching is my favorite!

Ruthykins said...

hey nursemom, just be glad i'm in the chapel and not letting the kids run around. i can't help it if you can't ignore them.

purplehaze said...

Great post! I often wonder about the "Perfect", because God know we are not that! I like people watching too, how about at an airport there are some pretty strange people there.

ann said...

I'm a people watcher to! This post was so funny I almosted peed my pants! I find myself doing alot of these things while watching the people in our ward. I can't wait for church on Sunday! Jared and I are going to laugh all the way through every meeting!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by today! Loved the joke - I actually hadn't heard that one before . . . BTW, I would go with the curls - of course, I am a curly girl . . so, I'm kind of partial.

RhondaLue said...

Ohhhhhhh this post resonates with me! I love it!

Ok just an FYI..granny goody goody--just don't get on her bad side!

The worst for me are the perfect ones. I have a hard time tolerating those. I mean, c'mon people let your REAL self out. We like the real self better anyhow! we can be positive and uplifting without perpetuating lies and myths about our lives!

Come n sit by me this week because hubby is on the stand or at another ward often and my 6 kids could really use a finger puppet show or some good snacks. It's all I can do to keep them UPRIGHT in the pew and keep that freshly gelled "missionary" hairdo from gettin' messed up!

I know people that have purposely stopped sitting on our side of the chapel due to the shenanigans with my circus...and others that sit behind us excited for the entertainment to begin. ugh!

Susie said...

I think it means that everyone has common experiences. You can find those same types of people in your neighborhood and school too. That's why shows like The Office are successful. They plug into these "every-characters" and make us laugh.

Du and MJ Webb said...

You saved me at church last Sunday, thanks a ton! About a month ago, the lady in front of me said my family sounded like "romper room". Or another family said that they like to sit by us because then their kids seem quiet next to ours. How boring it would be at church without all "5" of my kids there with me!

Christie said...

Seriously funny stuff! I love to people watch, especially in Sacrament Meeting.
I loved that bit about the "Spanking" parents...too funny!
Hey, you WON the Spooky Banner yesterday...the one that I made and donated for the Blogathon.
Email me at: with your address and I'll mail it off.

"The Queen in Residence" said...

That was so true!!!

I so miss the Satan Lady on SNL.

It is like when you watch "Singles Ward" that was it. They had nailed it perfectly. All the stereo-types were there.

I loved it and am going to send a few friends your way for a good laugh.

Oh2122 said...

Hi there, and thanks for coming by on my BATW day!

The "wicked-ness" is infectious. I actuall had a triage nurse use it in a sentence describing the 103 fever my son had. No, really. I did a double take before I could move on!

Kaye Butler said...


Melodie said...

Funny post, but I must say that your church is nothing like mine. We don't have those people in my church, either that or they all go to the 8:00 service, and I can't remember the last time I was bored with the sermon. I guess that's why I love my church so much. We're a small congregation, but we're more like one big dysfunctional family.

Ruthykins said...

i loved rhondalue's comment. in our church we sit on the loud side. there's about four families with small children that all sit one pew behind the other. that's why we switched sides. apparently you can sit in a different pew.