Top 10 Symptoms Of The Tenured Pew Sitter

I owe this blog to a challenge from Dawn at Inspiration with an Attitude.  It’s one of many blogs that I follow and if you’re not following her, you might want to.  I say this because if I offend someone with this blog, blame Dawn.  She responded to an earlier blog, Seeds Live Truthfully with the challenge to do a follow-up with the symptoms of The Tenured Pew Sitter.  Even at 61, the competitor in me still likes a good challenge.

I don’t know exactly how I formed this phrase, I think it was inspired from reading another blogger, See, there’s this thing called biology (you might want to check insanitybytes out, too. Some more good stuff!).  She coined a word “Churchians” and from that, I would like to think I was inspired by the Holy Spirit.  So, I started using the phrase “Tenured Pew Sitters”.  So to answer the challenge from Dawn, here goes from Number 10 to Number 1:

10.  A Love For The Bible That Does Not Include The Application

For the Tenured Pew Sitters the goal is information.  The more information one has, the better person they become.  The problem is that the Bible is not given to us for information, rather transformation.

9.  Trapped In The Past

They see the height of the church being in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.  If church leaders would just do what they did back then, the result would be church growth.  If we were living in the same “Christian” culture as back then it would work.  But we aren’t and it won’t.  There is a reason why this era is called the “Post Christian” culture.  The values of Jesus are no longer the primary values of society.  They insist that we must go back and do what we used to do, and be.  If you always do what you’ve always done, then you will always be what you’ve always been.

8.  Religion Replaces Relationship

Tenured Pew Sitters focus on the external rather than the internal.  It is all about “the show”.  The rich traditions and liturgy that once inspired a previous generation to know and love God more deeply, are now sacred cows to be protected at all costs; even at the cost of a local church dying.  It is the desire for form over substance.  John Wesley wrote near the end of his life that he never doubted that there would ever cease to be a people known as Methodists.  But his greatest fear was that they have the form of godliness but without the power of the Holy Spirit.

7.  They Are The Ultimate Image Of A Christian.

Therefore, everyone else must conform to their image.  If anyone is to be a part of “their” church, then they must agree with them.  They see themselves on the “path” and everyone else is either a trouble-maker or a “well bless their little hearts”.  You have to be a Southerner to know what “well bless their little hearts” means.

6.  Power Over Purpose

It’s not the “power” you are thinking about.  It’s not about the power of the local church, but about holding power OVER the local church.  They do this in a variety of ways:  being on the right committees; being vocally abusive even in a nice kind of way.  More important for them is the power of the Offering Plate.  They see it as the ballot box–of approving or disapproving of the mission of the church.  They care more about the weight of their power than the true purpose for the Body of Christ.

5.  Heightened Sense Of Self Importance

The Tenured Pew Sitter sees themselves as the source of all wisdom.  Some will actually say that the church cannot survive without them and their support.  This is another way of saying they have a serious ego problem, not that different from the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day.

4.  It’s All About What Happens In Here

There is no sense of mission, except to send money somewhere far, far away.  Supporting foreign mission projects becomes a way to ease the conscience of the Tenured Pew Sitter.  The bulk of the budget must be spent on what happens INSIDE the church building.

3.  A Deep Seated Desire To Judge

The Tenured Pew Sitter thinks of themselves as a “fruit” inspector.  What they really are is a bulldozer; quick to run anyone down they see as a threat to their power and/or their comfort.  They think that the Lord helps those who can help themselves; and only the worthy deserve any help.

2.  An Obvious Absence Of Deep Joy

The Tenured Pew Sitter has “that” expression, on their face and in their words.  “That” expression is what I call “The Painfully Pious” look.  Imagine this:  Chewing on a lemon rind on one side of your mouth and a green persimmon on the other.  Try it if you would like and look at yourself in the mirror.  I wouldn’t recommend it; just trust me on this one.

1.  The Local Church Exists For Them.

 They see the local church as a producer of goods and services for them, the consumer.  For the Tenured Pew Sitter, for “church” to be “church” then it must offer things that appeal to them first and foremost.

Well Dawn, I hope this gives you my insights.  Anyone else out there have other insights into The Tenured Pew Sitter?  Feel free to add them below in the comments section.


16 thoughts on “Top 10 Symptoms Of The Tenured Pew Sitter

  1. This is great Pastor Randy! So true of so many people, and in my church it takes in too many. It will be the death of church eventually if we can not get out of this type of pattern. I do all I can to spur on our people with praise and worship that elevates one out of the pew sitter mold, but seem to be hitting brick walls most of the time. I’m going to keep a copy of this and talk to my pastor about it. Do you have a follow up post on how to transform a spew sitter into a pew filler?

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  2. Your blogging influences receive my stamp of approval. They have challenged the status quo, pew-warning, spectator sport called “church” and focused on a living, vital relationship with Christ. How dare they be biblical? 😀 These characteristics are so true of what you call the “tenured pew sitter”. They are so tenured that God forbid someone sits in “their” seat. If they are truly born again, they are in for a rude awakening when they don’t have reserved seats in Heaven. You are definitely a likeminded brother and always have a place to preach if you get lost and happen to land in Walhalla, SC.

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  3. Ha! This is wonderful. I now have the urge to go nail your post to my church door. No doubt even my pastor would approve. 🙂

    I joke about this issue a lot, but actually it’s the most grievous, depressing, appalling thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. You’ve nailed it very well too. Cultural Christians, pew sitters, churchians, whatever we are, many of us are trapped in faith as cheap imitations, lacking nutrients, full of empty calories. Thems some harsh words, but I mean it. I’ve spent too many years looking over at the guy snoozing on one side and the gal on her phone checking facebook on the other, and rolled my eyes over all the hype about the latest churchian drama. Sometimes the hardest people to love are sitting in church right next to you and yet we always speak of “the lost” as if they are outside the building somewhere.

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    1. Thanks IB, and your comments are like that poem I recently used:
      To dwell above with saints we love, Oh, that will be glory.
      But to dwell below with saints we know, well, that’s another story.

      Liked by 1 person

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