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.