25 Signs You Might Be a Mainline Church Member

1. Your NPR tote bag is perfect for carrying your Sunday School lesson plans.

2. Relative to inflation, the annual church budget is about half the size of what it was thirty years ago (on a related note, so is the volunteer base).

3. A good sermon is important and all, but you’re pretty confident the Holy Spirit knows how to tell time, and that your pastor should know how to as well.

4. Your pastor calls attention to their reading of The New York Times a bit too much. “We get it, pastor — you love Paul Krugman!”

5. Your pastor quotes Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa so frequently that you wonder if they’re aware that other historical figures exist.

6. You’ve served as a deacon, treasurer, board chair, worship committee chair, and property committee chair…sometimes all at once!

7. The walls in the nursery desperately need to be repainted, but before doing so you have to check to find out if anyone who was friends with the artist who painted the current mural decades ago is still alive.

8. You wonder how it’s 2016 and women are still denied ordination in so many denominations. You also wonder why senior ministers in mainline churches are almost always men even though there are currently more women than men in the divinity schools.

9.  Half of your fellow members are on the church board. And you’d be shocked if Robert had any rules you all don’t already know.

10. There’s a lot of excitement about that new, young couple that’s been attending your services lately. They’re in their 50s.

11. You find yourself saying “If we can get just one more year out of the church furnace” on a yearly basis.

12. There’s a good chance you switched your membership from a more fundamentalist tradition because you had a hard time believing that people like Gandhi could be burning in hell.

13. Instead of having Sunday School classes for multiple age groups, your church has one combined class for grades one through twelve.

14. Relatedly, your children’s director finds added value to the Bible verse, “Where two or three are gathered together…”

15. You love America and all, but you’re a little worried that people run Christianity and nationalism together a bit too much.

16. You love a lot of the old hymns, but you draw the line at “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

17. You don’t think it would be an entirely bad idea for God to be referred to as a Man less often.

18. The church carpet hasn’t been replaced since 1962.

19. You really like to write out your prayers.

20. Some members you know can recall the good old days when Sunday School classes were so full that makeshift classes had to meet in the janitor’s closet (but part of you suspects they’re stretching the truth).

21. A lot of people in your church are okay with the idea that you can honor the relationship between Adam and Eve as well as between Adam and Steve (although this has led several members to leave your church or to start a new church altogether).

22. You’re a big fan of heaven, and you definitely want to go there when you die, but you think Christianity at its best should emphasize life before death as much as life after death.

23. You kind of like that “Coexist” bumper sticker.

24. You think it’s okay for the Bible to be interpreted figuratively, and not just literally.

25. You’re not sure if it’s the coffee or the donuts that draw you to fellowship hour. And you really love potluck dinners.

——

UPDATE: 30 April 2016

A bunch of people have sent me some fun ones to add:

26. You go to a Hillary campaign rally to hear/see Bill, and half of your Sunday School class is there. You take a deep sigh as your eyes well up, thinking “These are my people!”

27. Despite all the rainy days your congregation has had, it’s never rainy enough to actually use the rainy day fund. 

28. Your denominational headquarters actually has lots and lots of money, but the vast majority of it falls under the category of “restricted funds.”

29. You are currently in the middle of a two-year process to “transform,” “revitalize,” or “rethink”, because it’s been 10 years since you went through Strategic Spiritual Journey, Unbinding, or “visioning.”

30. Your pastors published a book on the “Emergent Church” just as the Emergent Church quit being a thing. (FTW)

Feel free to add your own in the comments!

7 Comments

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7 responses to “25 Signs You Might Be a Mainline Church Member

  1. Jennifer

    You go to a Hillary campaign rally to hear/see Bill, and half of your Sunday School class is there. You take a deep sigh as your eyes well up, thinking “These are my people!”

  2. K.J. Reynolds

    You are currently in the middle of a two-year process to “transform,” “revitalize,” or “rethink”, because it’s been 10 years since you went through Strategic Spiritual Journey, Unbinding, or “visioning.”

  3. You wonder if your Muslim neighbors are actually better Christians than you are.

  4. Trish Siltala

    Actually, I carry my Sunday School lessons in my Pride bag. Or my Breast Cancer Resource Center fundraiser bag. XD Otherwise, I can relate to a lot of these!

  5. Mary Strawsma

    I really, think the ad accompanying this article might be something I would purchase. . I think nothing of taking a few weeks away for my mental health and relaxation but not sure about study time for the pastor.

  6. Your church has a core group of deeply committed long-time members, and while there has been little or no growth since they became the core group years ago, they are totally resistant to change because it might “not work” or “could hold us back”.

  7. You know you are mainline if your church does not use a white board, a smart board, a projection tv or a megatron in your weekly worship
    services.

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