Have you ever wandered into a Bible Study or Life Group and found yourself strangely unsurprised by the characters there? No matter which group you join up with there always seems to be the Usual Suspects. And now, for your entertainment, a humorous take on the types of people you might find in these groups.
1. The Wannabe Preacher
Bible Studies are a valuable asset to your growth in biblical knowledge and essential in building relationships and having (hopefully) a safe place to be real.
That being said, if the Bible Study is over at 8pm I want to be snuggled in my bed watching my show at 8:30!
I am not saying there aren’t good reasons to push the curfew a bit. Just as in dancing at your Junior prom, it’s a good idea to leave room for the holy spirit.
The beauty of a life group is it’s casual nature. It’s not designed to be another church service. So if it starts to feel like you are standing behind a pulpit, cross referencing scripture with the original Hebrew language, you may find me glaring meaningfully at the Life Group leader to take back the reins.
A dangerous question to ask if you do have a Wannabe Preacher in attendance is,
“Who would like to close us in prayer?”
Well now you’ve done it! We all know who would like to. And now we also know to add twenty minutes to the clock. Thanks.
2. The Actual Preacher
Unless you know they are the preacher, you won’t know they are the preacher. This is vacation time for the leader who is always ON. They’ll be the one kicking back and letting everyone else talk.
Sure they might pitch in here and there, but for the most part you can can expect a subtle deflection at attempts to put them on the spot with clever phrases like,
“What do you think that means?”
“I think Jane might have some insight here.”
“I’m getting more cheese dip, anyone need anything?”
It’s best to let the preacher feel like one of the gang. Let the Life Group leader facilitate, and the preacher vegetate.
3. The Emotional Wreck
Every lesson seems to trigger a painful experience that they must immediately share.
Suddenly your life group becomes a weekly therapy session where personal traumas of all kinds are laid painfully raw on the table for us to gawk at awkwardly. Now we must find a way to appropriately comfort the sobbing guest and segue back to the topic at hand. How do you do that!? Not naturally, that’s how.
The cliff notes version of your hamster dying is perfectly acceptable here.
I realize that sometimes you really need to share the pain you’re feeling, and your life group is more than happy to rally around you in love. But when it becomes a weekly ritual, we may need to consider getting you some professional help. If not that, then you need to find another way to garner attention…(yeah…I said it.) Authentic pain is one thing, but being a professional victim is quite another.
4. The Freeloader
This individual can come in many intriguing forms.
They have a perfectly functional vehicle but ask to ride with you. (Usually they live out of the way.)
You might buy their Bible Study booklet for them with promises that they will reimburse you for the cost. 6 months later and you’re still short $13.99.
They never bring a snack or beverage for the group, but you’ll see them plastic wrapping a heaping plate of home cooked appetizers to take home for later.
Even though you bought their booklet for them, they never seem to do the homework, if they remember to bring the book at all.
Basically, they are there for the socializing and the food.
5. The Wise Mute
There is at least one, if not more in your group. A Yoda among you.
They sit still with a pleasant look on their face, taking everything in. They show no sign of verbally participating. Nor will they. Unless of course, they are directly asked.
Cue the moment the leader decides we’ll go around in a circle and each respond to some question or another.
A silence falls across the room when Yoda steps up to bat. In a calm and steady voice they proceed to lay out, very simply, the most brilliant and thought provoking perspective on the relevant topic.
With no fanfare, they finish speaking and humbly pass the stage to their neighbor, who unfortunately sounds like a walrus who figured out how to thread sounds together to form a few paltry words after that display of genius.
We won’t hear them speak again for another two months. But oh how we wish they would.
6. The Hyper Spiritualist
For this person, EVERYTHING requires an action! It’s not enough to meet together to learn more about God and fellowship. We must change the world right this moment!
We shall serve in the homeless shelter on Monday! Tuesday we need to build a new neighborhood downtown! Wednesday we will mentor at least two students in the youth group! Thursday, we put on our superhero costumes and fight crime. Friday, we will walk the mall and convert anyone who tries to go into Hot Topic. Saturday we will sell all that we have and donate it to Africa. Then Sunday we will come together again and plan our holy tasks for the following week.
This is not an awful sentiment. But if put on steroids, it can seem insurmountable and rather exhausting. Perhaps it’s best to help that well-meaning and motivated member to choose one thing, and put all of their energy into that. We CAN change the world. Just not all at once.
7. The Comedian
This is the one who doesn’t take anything seriously. Your general class clown. Whether they are hiding insecurity with humor, or are starving for attention, you can count on them to lighten the mood…or make things incredibly awkward. When it comes to the comedian there are a few sub-categories.
a.) The Cheeseball
These people are puns of fun. They have a pocketful of the corniest Christian jokes you wish you’d never heard. Have a problem with that? I hear God accepts Knee-Mail.
b.) The Sensationalist
And you thought your 80 year old grandfather was the only one fearless enough to take things to the gutter. Not so, my friend. Not so. If it will make you gasp, cringe or solemnly shake your head at such audacity, this jokester is all over it.
They can take the most innocent and mundane topics, and make them worthy enough to flush down the toilet…if you know what I mean.
c.) The Not-Funny One
Comic timing is not their spiritual gift. But does that stop them? Nope. Does the awkward silence after the punch line discourage them? Not even a little. Are they in tune with other people at all? Going off of the goofy grin plastered on their face after making an All Dogs Go to Heaven joke after someone lost their beloved pet…I’m gonna go with nah. But we love them anyway.
d.) The Inside Jokers
This involves at least two, if not more people. They are constantly saying seemingly random and meaningless things before snickering and giving each other knowing looks. Good for you. We are happy you have previously had a shared and amusing experience. We will continue to look on blankly as you indulge in your private jest publicly. Or if we are unfortunate, we too will laugh, thinking we missed something. When you stare at us and say with slight condescension, “It’s an inside joke.”, we will work at slowly ceasing our empty laughter and pretend our phone buzzed.
e.) The Jerk
This is the one who gets their laughs at the expense of others. You either love them or hate them, or want to love them, but then they say something insulting to you. I’ve never quite understood this group. They say it’s out of love, but why does it sting?
Alright, enough of that. When it comes down to it, we would rather have humor and laughter in it’s various forms than what is coming next. So relax. Unless of course you happen to be-
8. The Debbie Downer
This person can take anything and make it depressing. Oodles of fun they are. You know exactly who I’m talking about.
Someone says, “My Mom is coming into town this weekend. I’m so excited, I haven’t seen her in almost a year!”
Debbie Downer: “I wish my Mom was still alive. She died in a car accident when I was 16.”
“Hey everyone! We’re going to plan a night out to the State Fair! They have THE best corn dogs!”
Debbie: “Eeew, fair food. Do you even know how they make that stuff? And the people they find to work there are usually ex cons and homeless dudes. Make sure you get your tetanus shots, everyone! Can I catch a ride with one of you? My car got towed and I can’t afford to get it out. It will probably go to auction and get bought by some drug dealer.”
These people are one of the reasons God included Ephesians 4:2 in the Bible.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
9. The Player
Single and ready to mingle? No? Doesn’t matter. This person will try anyway. Because really, what better place to meet a nice lady or gentleman than at a Bible Study?
Inherently, there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, I recommend it highly over the bar, despite Ed Sheeran’s sentiments.
But if it’s the main reason you are joining groups…it’s obvious. Don’t worry. We won’t spoil your game. We’ll just sit back and watch things unfold.
When you select your target, we all know it.
Everyone seems to have a “spot” they like to sit in after a couple of meetings. Even though that has been established, you get there a little early to steal the one next to your prospect.
You laugh loudly whenever they say anything.
You try to be extra spiritual in your responses to their input.
You can’t help but let awkward compliments slip out here and there.
Or you’re one of those that likes to pick on their crush. That’s even more obvious.
You casually ask that special someone if they tasted the dish you brought.
And yes, we’ve caught you staring.
It’s okay. We want you to find love. And this is, by all means, the right place.
10. The Phantom Attendee
You may see this person once or twice during the eight week study. Commitment is not their middle name. But they will always have a good excuse for their absence.
The first type of phantom is the one that had plans made prior to their commitment to the study.
This week I’ll be in Timbuktu, that week I have people in town, the following week I’m having surgery. But I’ll be there for sure on the last one.
We are all wondering why you signed up in the first place, but whatever works for you.
The other type of Phantom is the one who obviously does not want to be there.
The call usually comes five minutes before it starts, no matter the reason. Why? Before then they had been battling themselves all day over whether or not they would go. The right thing to do would be to go, but then… they really don’t want too.
Some good ones are,
“I have a fever and wouldn’t want to infect anyone.”
“I totally forgot I was supposed to….”
“I thought we were meeting tomorrow night. So sorry!”
“My kiddos are sick.”
Albeit sometimes these are true. But when it’s every week?
It’s okay though. They promise to be there in spirit.
2 thoughts on “10 Usual Suspects in a Bible Study”
I love your wisdom, insight and humor. I believe you have hit a home run with this.
Thank you, Keith! 🙂