Helicopter Church Members

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           April 8, 2016

                                 

The term, “helicopter parents”, was first used in 1969 By Dr. Haim Ginott in his book Parents and Teenagers. Since that time the skies have been overpopulated with parents who hover over their children for a variety of reasons.

The interesting thing is that churches have helicopter members. These are folk who hover over programs, look for mistakes in the Sunday bulletin, pounce on perceived errors, and question the intelligence of the pastor and/or church leaders.

They think the Kingdom would not be able to operate without them, and even then believe the Kingdom could function more efficiently if God would just let them do it their way.

Helicopter church people come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders. Some contribute to a church by sitting in the same seat each week, and they also…sit in the same seat each week. They are the ones who simply critique. That’s it! They aren’t involved in ministry other then that. They see it as their calling…the ministry of correction! They time the sermon, check the scripture references for accuracy, and ration out their smiles.

Others hover over the pastor. They check his schedule, call him in the late evening and get annoyed when he doesn’t answer. Bottom line: They don’t trust him, just because that’s their right! They grab him every Sunday after the worship service and monopolize his time, even though they know there are visitors present that he would like to meet. They ask him why he isn’t doing certain trivial ministry details, and could care less about community outreach, the homeless, and world hunger. They are concerned that two of the rubber stoppers in the pew communion cup holders are missing, and indifferent about missing members who have been dealing with difficulties.

Then there are the helicopters who are loving and caring, but also smothering. They have good intentions, but don’t understand the boundaries. They look you in the eye with sincerity and ask you how you are doing, and after a response of “Fine”, they question it until the person begins to think that maybe she isn’t doing okay. They mean well, and would give you the shirt off their back, but often take it to an uncomfortable level. However, of the helicopter church members they are the ones who most resemble the people of the first century church.

Just as the term “helicopter parents” came into existence to define those who hover, the church also has those members who hover over any activity, program, function, or detail of the ministries involving their kids and youth. Mind you, there are some parents who “drop and shop”…dropping the kids off and going shopping for a while. But most parents are engaged in their children’s church activities in some way. The helicopter parents micro-manage. They are the “Dance Moms” of the church, sometimes seeing the teacher…the “Abby” of the classroom…as their adversary.

And finally there is the “helicopter pastor” who has his hand in everything and knows everything. He’s been called and ordained, and takes that as God’s authorization for him to dominate and dictate. The Sunday sermon is just one of the various ways he sermonizes each week. When helicopter church members fly in the same zone as helicopter pastors there is bound to be a mid-air collision.

Thus, a new skill set for the church is appearing. One that could be labeled “air traffic controllers”. Controllers guide the helicopters in moving in a safe direction. They discern possible crashes long before they happen, and chart new paths for those who are flying around. It is a special kind of ministry that almost all pastors have no clue about. Seminary education focused on homiletics, Greek, systematic theology, and pastoral counseling. It did not offer a class in “positive movement in ministry”, or “the guidance of agenda-dominated church members.”

In fact, the air traffic controller can rarely be the pastor. The pastor is more like the pilot of one of those helicopters with multiple propellers. He’s usually carrying a heavy load. The air traffic controller has to be trusted by those he/she is guiding. He must establish principles for people to fly by that will not be questioned, for, without a doubt, the hovering members will try to balk when they are told to keep moving.

The thing is…the church needs passionate people who are invested in the ministry. Those saints are to be encouraged, but there comes a point where being invested in needs to be differentiated from owned, and that is sometimes a messy separation.

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Community, Faith, Humor, love, Parenting, Pastor, Prayer, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized, Youth

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