The typical American church of the twenty-first century is very different from the church that our forefathers had in mind when they sailed to America in the 1600s. It is not necessarily the ideology of the church that has changed but the parishioners. The majority of the people who go to church are still good, God-fearing people; however, there are some distinct groups that have arisen in most congregations. These groups are the busy bodies, the socialites, and the holy rollers.
          Ms. Charlotte Buttinsky typically characterizes the church busy body. Ms. Buttinsky is usually recognized by her frazzled, damaged, dyed hair and the bright, florescent make-up that cakes her face. She always wears gaudy, homemade earrings and has lipstick on her teeth. Ms. Buttinsky is the one who says “Hello” to everyone in the hallway at church. If she sees an unfamiliar face, it is to be certain that Ms. Buttinsky will find out the poor person’s name, age, hair and eye color, and shoe size before the service has ended. She will be the first one to say, “Oh, don’t let me intrude,” but she is always the last one to leave. Ms. Buttinsky is on every church committee: the telephone committee, the building committee, and the church bazaar committee, just to name a few. The prayer chain is one of Charlotte’s favorite committees. Parishioners alert this committee when they have a situation in which they, or one of their family members, need prayer. After ten years of serving on the committee, Charlotte is now the chairperson. At any time of day, a member can call Ms. Buttinsky and ask for her prayer. After “counseling” the individual, which really is getting every detail, Ms. Buttinsky alerts the members of the committee and tells them the details that were told to her. Never mind the confidentiality of the issue, Ms. Buttinsky feels that it is important to know all the details so that she may pray effectively. Although Charlotte Buttinsky will deny it, she has made the prayer chain into the church gossip line. She is also in charge of the new members’ class, a place where people who have recently joined the church go to get acquainted with the functions, groups, and policies of the church. No one is better qualified to teach the class than Ms. Buttinsky because she knows the entire workings of the church inside and out. In the class, one will learn about the various committees, the different Sunday school classes available, and church policies. But beware; for Ms. Buttinsky this is a screening session for the members of the church so that she can get to know everything about the people in the class without their realizing it. Ms. Buttinsky is very perceptive; she has had years of experience.
          Mr. Frank Fellowship characterizes the church socialite. Mr. Fellowship will be at every church picnic, bazaar, and dinner. There is never a dull moment when Frank is around. Frank loves to be around people laughing and having fun. Mr. Fellowship is in his early thirties; he is handsome and has a nice build. His most outstanding characteristic is his smile, a bright, glowing grin stretched from ear to ear. Mr. Fellowship’s favorite thing to do is to go to church picnics. He is there from the moment the picnic starts till the moment it ends, rain or shine. He comes ready to organize games of softball, basketball, dominos, and carnival games, such as Pin the Tail on the Donkey, the three-legged race, and the dunking booth. Mr. Fellowship is usually the first man in the dunking booth because no one else will get in it. In addition, Mr. Fellowship is a master cook and is in charge of the barbeque. He can cook hot dogs and hamburgers better than any other church member, so nobody ever goes hungry. Another favorite activity of Mr. Fellowship’s is Sunday school parties. The group can be large or small, but Frank always has a great time. Usually his parties have a theme–Hawaiian, western, or biblical. Mr. Fellowship enjoys giving these parties and would throw one every weekend if his wife would let him. At these parties, he serves great food, provides music, and has fun games. A master of charades, he uses his spare time to think up gestures for the next time he plays. Everyone always wants to be on Frank’s team.
          Finally, there are the church’s “holy rollers.” Brother Joe Christian characterizes the typical church holy roller. Bro. Christian is the fifty-something gentleman in the three-piece suit every Sunday. He has a long, skinny face and a receding hairline. As chairman of the deacons, Joe Christian believes there is no humor in anything when it comes to God and the church. He spends his time criticizing people like Charlotte Buttinsky and Frank Fellowship: “People like that are headed straight for hell. They are nothing but heathens,” he says. Bro. Christian spends most of his time praying and feels that the only thing for a devout Christian to do is to spend most of his time communing with God. He prays for everything and everyone: the offering, the building fund, and the sinful brethren of the church. Bro. Christian prays so much that he has worn the carpet thin at the altar because he kneels there so much. Bro. Christian leads the congregation in prayer as well as gives the prayer in his Sunday school class. By leading a Bible study group, he feels that he might be able to redeem some souls if he leads them in the direction of constant communion with God. This fails to be successful because the only people who attend his Bible studies are the other holy rollers in the church. Bro. Christian is so holy that he has thrown out the Bible study material and writes his own lessons, for the material that was being used, he felt, was contaminating the Word of God. Despite all his effort to have sinful people change their lifestyles, Bro. Christian has been unsuccessful. The reason for his failure is that when most members see Bro. Joe Christian coming down the hallway, they turn and walk the other way—hoping to avoid his judgmental glare.
          In conclusion, these three types of church members make up only a small percentage of the church congregation. Beware of these people in a church congregation; they are there and  will not be leaving any time soon. However, not all church members are fanatics. Most people fall into a mild combination of the busy body, the socialite and the “holy roller.” New members will surely thus find a group to become a part of in their time at church.

—Wendy Priest         

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