What Type of Church Member are You?

Sam Rainer

February 18, 2011

I might get in a little trouble for this blog, but as a pastor I must lead with levity. If I did not poke a little fun (and receive it), then I would go into an intense-seriousness-coma. My wife hates my extended gravitas. So at the risk of being flippant, allow me to label some different types of church members. Understandably, every church is unique, as is every member, but there are some commonalities I’ve noticed.

Remember, pastors, you must lead and shepherd all types—that’s what God called you to do when He sent you to a particular fellowship in a specific location. You have to work with the people that are there. In short, you must love your church where it is now, not where you hope it will be. With that being said, let’s look at some church member stereotypes.

The friend. Every pastor should be blessed with at least one person that doesn’t care about the fact he’s the shepherd. These friends help pastors stay sane. They just enjoy the pastor for who he is, warts and all. I have several people at FBC Murray that would still be my friends even if I was not the pastor. I love hanging out with them.

The supporter. This person is a vocal supporter of leadership. When the rumor mill gets turning, they stand up and call people out. When dissension begins, they work hard to bring back unity. They love their pastors and champion the vision of the church.

The dude. For whatever reason, every church seems to have at least one guy with great hair. Dudes take on many forms. In rural settings, they can have killer mullets. In urban settings, they can have crazy, hip, flock-of-seagulls hair. The one consistency is they have hair—lots of it. And they always seem to play Jesus in the Easter production.

The Mulder. Remember X-Files? Remember how Mulder always had some crazy conspiracy theory about aliens? Seems like there’s always at least one hyper-spiritual person in the church that thinks demons are behind everything that goes wrong. Don’t get me wrong; I believe in spiritual warfare and do not take it lightly. But I don’t think a demon named “Techno” is causing the microphones to go dead.

The caregiver. These people truly enjoy being selfless. When you thank them for their “sacrifices,” they look at you funny. What most view as bothersome chores, they happily accept. For instance, I have a few adopted grandmothers and grandfathers at FBC Murray. They help take care of Maggie when Erin and I need to get away. And they truly love changing those diapers.

The opportunist. He uses the church for a business network. She uses it to gain political access to a constituency. They avoid church leaders unless their networks or constituencies are threatened. Then they get nasty.

The Pharisee. I like to call them the silly police. They enforce neckties in the traditional church. They enforce coolness in the contemporary church. In every case, it’s about “the look” of a person and not the progress of discipleship.

The mentor. This member is a rare breed. I have one at FBC Murray. I hang on to his every word. If my Dad’s father were still alive, they would be the same age. He is light years beyond me in spiritual maturity. And he will never know how much of an influence on me he has. I am forever changed because of his guidance, and I am a better pastor because of his influence.

The warrior. This person prays unceasingly. If we had more of them in our churches, then revival would break out across our nation.

The Axl Rose. They can belt it. They have incredible stage ability and top-notch musical talent. But they are temperamental. You never know when they’re going to slam a microphone down, start a riot in the choir room, storm out, and go into seclusion for a year.

The anxious Annie. This person feels the need to tell everyone to pray for their third cousin’s best friend’s neighbor’s son’s cat that recently coughed up a tough hairball and had to go to the vet. Poor thing. Now let’s pray for Scuffles.

The chinwag starter. Most everyone is guilty of some form of gossip, but this person is the hub for all the rumor spokes.

The follower. If we are honest, this category accounts for the majority of our churches. Most people are happy with your leadership, on board with the vision and direction of the church, and willing to help you with ministry.

I could name a few more, but who do you all want to add to the list?

19 comments on “What Type of Church Member are You?”

  1. Derek Miller says:

    First of all, demons do congregate in pigs and sound equipment.

    Second, I would like to add “The Student” to your list. This is a young guy that takes notes on every sermon. He watches carefully for the words you choose and checks definitions if he doesn’t know them. Always armed with a matching translation of the bible, highlighters, pens, paper and enough iPhone bible apps to check the verses in every language translation including ancient Greek and Hebrew. If given the opportunity, he will sit in both services to confirm his information and probably check lexicon and concordance guides.

  2. Sam Rainer says:

    Ah, yes, good calls Derek.

  3. Brent H. says:

    good list! made me smile several times.

  4. wcbcpastor says:

    Great list. When I was a young pastor- about 30 yrs ago- my mentor told me to look for two significant people: 1.Mother Superior…she is the one lady in the church that truly runs everything. She may or may not be in any elected position, but she knows where everything is in the kitchen, she knows many of the secrets behind the smiling faces on any given Sunday. 2. The Mafia Don…this is the man- who may very well be married to the Mother Superior…who truly runs the church. Particularly in small churches this is the guy who although he may never step behind the pulpit he is literally the power behind the pulpit.
    In every church I’ve served (I am pastoring my third church…been in my current position for almost 20 yrs) these two characters always show up…sometimes it takes ahwile to recognize them, but they will make themselves known.

    1. Theresa Blanar says:

      I would like to know about Mother Superior…..Are you implying she has a Jezebel Spirit or someone that is an asset to the body?

  5. Pat Pope says:

    Good post.

    When I saw you mention FBC Murray, I had to go to About to read more about you and sure enough, you’re from Murray, Ky. It’s not every day that you meet someone from Murray, let alone anyone who’s ever heard of it. You see, my mother is from there and from childhood through my teenage years I spent a few weeks there every year. I still have a cousin who lives there and works at MSU.

  6. I don’t know what type am I? Something close to a caregiver I guess.

  7. edwardadams says:

    Hello Pastor,Iam a old man but still kid at heart.Yes,i love to have fun at church for our lord wants us to be full of joy.I dont know what type Iam?But without love and understanding we have nothing,GOD BLESS.

  8. Sam,

    Great post. What about ‘Church Police” The one or few people who are always poking their noses into everyone’s business. I have met a few of these before.

  9. I enjoyed the post. No need to apologize for laughter. “Serious” is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

  10. Donna says:

    This was my first time reading your blog. Hysterical! I am for sure a follower. I printed it to share with my girlfriends. Thanks for the laugh.

  11. Michael says:

    Hi, Sam. Great post–our youth minister pointed the rest of staff to this page.

    wcbcpastor got the one I’d have mentioned–“the Mafia Don,” though in seminary we referred to him (perhaps a little more generously) as “the Facilitator”–not necessarily on every committee, but definitely the “wind beneath the wings.” If they’re godly people, these are a real treasure. We have a great couple here at our church who fill that role wonderfully. Great folks!

    And for edwardadams, might I suggest “The Cut-up” (or “The Rascal”)? An older fellow who… isn’t too stuck in his physical years to prevent him from having a little more fun than everyone else. They’re real gems, too.

    1. lisa says:

      I don’t know which one i am?

  12. Love the positive vibe you put into this topic. It’d be way too easy to run with the sister sandpaper theme

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