Sure this is a blog post and not a “Dude Perfect” YouTube video, but in the spirit of that goofy group of friends who poke fun at “that guy” stereotypes everywhere from the basketball court to the movie theater, here’s a list of caricatures of characters that can be found wandering into churches and inflicting their clueless ideas and suggestions on unsuspecting saints. As you read this field guide to these rare (or not-so-rare) birds, you should start by laughing at the over-the-top descriptions, but then you should make sure that these stereotypes don’t describe you deep down.
The Lineup of That-Guys (and Girls)
First up is “Mr. Full-of-Good-Things-for-Other-People-to-Do.” This guy can suggest a ministry a minute, but has no interest in actually leading or coordinating any of them. When the church leadership doesn’t drop everything to turn his initiatives into realities, he usually leaves in a huff.
Next is the Vanishing Volunteer. This caped crusader quickly signs up to work in the nursery, organize the church workday, or clean up after a big event, but when the cry goes out for her help, it turns out she’s made a daring daylight escape without notifying anyone or finding a replacement.
Another one to watch out for is the Sermon Corrector. This person takes it upon themselves to pick the nits out of every awkward illustration, slip of the tongue, or mis-remembered Scripture reference. They have a special ability to isolate the one aspect of a metaphor that wasn’t intended, and have developed a remarkable immunity to having a sense of proportion.
It’s never good when a Second-Hand Offense Taker shows up. Having heard about all sorts of social ills in the world out there, she takes her hammer in hand and goes hunting for nails in the local church, and lo and behold, they are everywhere. What was said or done or unsaid or undone doesn’t bother her, you see, but since it theoretically offended people she’s read about or heard of, something must be done. Or not done. Ever again.
Beware the Visioneer! This fellow has King Jimmy’s version of Prov. 29:18 tattooed on his forehead, and has spent considerable effort misapplying it whenever he can. His tunnel vision means that he’s always calling for you to cast a vision of a visionary vision statement that will help the congregation envision what they should be doing. You should also be aware that phrases like “the ministry of Word and Sacrament,” “great commission,” and “ordinary means of grace” don’t satisfy him; they only annoy him.
What the church doesn’t need is a Makeover Artist. This easily dissatisfied gal sweeps in with grand plans to change the look and feel of your church. But a new name, new logo, or new worship style is rarely what your church needs, or even what the Makeover Artist needs. Don’t go to church in order to change it. Go to be changed by encountering God.
Homeless Ministry Man isn’t running a ministry to the homeless, which would actually be a great thing. What this guy has is a ministry that can’t find a home, since nobody will support it. He travels from church to church trying to get people excited about his project, rather than making his peace with the fact that puppet ministry, miming for Jesus, or a mobile Christian pet wash may not be as central to the Church’s mission as he thought.
Hopefully you’ve chuckled at the caricatures, but hopefully the lesson has come home too: don’t be that guy. It’s better to be a faithful member who gratefully accepts his or her church, blemishes and all, than it is to make the church your pet project.
The Church belongs to Jesus and He is the one who is at work to purify her through His Word by His Spirit. Faithful church leaders will welcome constructive criticism, comments, ideas, and suggestions, but for the good of your soul and the peace of your church, don’t be “that guy.”