Church Quirks


Don’t have a lot of time to write today. Normally Monday’s post sets the stage for what follows the rest of the week. But after posting such heavy topics last week, I thought I’d go a little lighter today.

What does your church do that’s weird or goofy? Is there some quirky thing that you hope visitors don’t notice lest they leave scratching their heads, never to return? Does your pastor always tell a real groaner of a joke before his message? Does your church sign regularly contain such quirky knowledge as “Seven days without prayer make one weak”? Is the sanctuary carpeting shag?

An Israeli flag appeared out of nowhere at my church two Sundays ago. Someone put it up smack dab in the center of the wall at the back of the stage. Flag of IsraelIt hangs right over my head while I’m playing drums. It’s probably the most obvious item in the sanctuary.

I’m majorly leery of the flag. Everyone seems to have an opinion on it. People are choosing sides. One side says that the flag represents the Church as the new spiritual Israel. The other side says the flag is nothing more than a political expression for a country that has rejected their Messiah. One side: that vine is the root of the Faith. The other: the branches were cut out and we were grafted in. One side: Salvation came from the Jews. The other side: Jews that reject Christ wind up in a not-so-nice place.

I’m on that other side; the flag of the political State of Israel doesn’t belong in our church, much less center stage. So all I have to say is this: “Oy Vey!”

Actually, what I’m thinking is, And just how do I explain this to visitors? Or Is this something that brings our church together or only splits it?

Ah, those church quirks!

Tags: Church Quirks, Goofy, Weird, Israel, Israeli Flag, Church, Faith, Christianity, Jesus, God

19 thoughts on “Church Quirks

  1. I think the flag thing kind of goes beyond “quirky”…

    Our old church had (has?) a less controversial quirk. We used to announce birthdays and anniversaries, and for the kids the pastor got into the habit of asking what they wanted for their birthday. A friend’s daughter was particularly enamored of our son’s little electric Indian motorcycle (he’s an only grandson on both sides; we’ve since reined in both grandmothers), so when her birthday (third, I think) came up, she proclaimed “I want a motorcycle!” A much-closer-to-driving-age teen was next, and decided that sounded good: “I want a motorcycle too!” Thus, the pattern was set. If it was your birthday, you were pretty much obligated to announce that you, too, wanted a motorcycle. Some folks wanted them for anniversaries, too.

    I don’t think most of the folks even remember how it got started, and I’m sure only a few (the pastor was let in on the joke) even know that the originator was dead serious about the motorcycle…

  2. Rob

    we don’t have a physical cross in the church building.
    we asked the pastor about it one day – he pointed out that there were 27 crosses in the building (architecture and carved into the pews) but there isn’t an obvious (at all) cross.

  3. We have a prayer after the one opening worship song (before announcements and greeting time) that has a name: “The 10 Minute Prayer.”

    Not only that but “Greeting Time” has to be the cherry on the top of quirky in almost every church in America. We shake a few hands and call it fellowship. Oi yoi yoi.

  4. Anonymous

    Not very long ago I was invited to a picnic where a great assortment of meat was brought. As soon as I revealed my intention of no eating pork one guy moved in curiosity asked me: are you a Jew? I told him I did not follow the teachings of Judaism but rather Christ. He identified himself as a messianic Jew.
    As well as my attitude toward pork prompted this guy�s question, the display of the flag of the political state of Israel in your church sends the message: “we are Jews”. This can become very divisive because the word �Jew� has attached several meanings. It can mean:

    a. Born in the state of Israel.
    b. Affiliated with Judaism.
    c. Descendant of Jewish people: like used in Galatians 3:28
    d. The biblical definition of Jew given in Romans 2:28-29

    To be in equal ground maybe a Gentile banner can be prepared and attached next to the Israeli flag. Obviously such thing does not exist unless you want to put the flags of all the nations of the earth too…
    The NT teaches us that there is neither Jew nor Gentile because the Church is one in Christ. But if someone insists in flags or banners, let him be reminded of this: �And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD is my banner� (Exodus 17:15)


  5. Ronni

    I guess we are lucky since we are a new plant and have been in two buildings so far that we don’t have any real quirks yet… but that will probably happen soon… we move into a perm location in a few weeks… the only thing I can think of so far is the constant moving offering box… we don’t take an offering, rather have a box to put something in before or after service… and it tends to move… last week I couldn’t find it anywhere… some weeks its near the bulletins, others its on a counter on the side of the room… once it was near the sound board (only noticed that because I ran it that week)… so that is our quirk right now… LOL

  6. Dan McGowan

    I guess I will be the controversial one of the group…

    I happen to think that ALL “ordered worship services” as we tend to have them today (song/pray/song/reading/song/announcements/song/sermon,etc.)
    is pretty much a turn-off for a lot of visitors because it “smacks” of “church” in a negative way. It reminds visitors and regulars that worship is about sitting and watching, rather than actively participating in the things of the Kingdom.

    I am not saying “church is bad” but I do think we need to RE-THINK HOW we “do church” for the future…

  7. darla

    Let me see…

    Every Sunday morning my son asks if it is feast day. The first Sun of every month everyone contributes to a pot luck called the “Agape Feast” immediately following the a.m. service.

    The funniest thing that happens in our church is the reaction visitors have when a lady in our congregation – and a very dear friend of mine – sneezes. It sounds just like someone just stepped on a cat! EVERYBODY giggles when she does it, except the visitors who look, wide-eyed, around the room looking for the stray animal that invaded the sanctuary.

    Last year our pastor instituted “holy humor Sunday” for the week following Easter. He has developed an interest in the traditions of more liturgical congregations and assures us this is practiced in other churches. (Maybe someone can confirm or deny this for me.) It sure was a lot of fun, but I wouldn’t recommend it for every week.

    I am so glad God has a sense of humor. We must be highly amusing to him. I really like to imagine him smiling…for whatever reason!

  8. The only quark in my church is the formality of dress for those serving.

    My last church was wacked out and at times down right embarassing so I can definately live with this.

    The pastor had a habit of praying for people in the middle of service. I mean quiet, personal, 20 minutes of boredom while he conducts counseling prayer as if the rest of us were not in the room.

    He also liked to say, “put your head back and smile” and not say anything else for 15 minutes. I would just want to scream.

  9. Jennifer

    There is no standard order for doing things in our church – every week is different! I think it’s to make sure we stay awake. Oh, and our pastor makes up words.

  10. My church meets in a house on Saturday nights. I visit plenty of other churches, so here are some quirks: One church blows two to three shofars during worship. The Messianic Jewish congregation parades the Torah, draped in a special covering, around the sanctuary, and many attendees touch the covering with their Bibles or fingers and then kiss what they used to touch the covering. One church has a woman who dances up front, waving flags, although she seems shy around new people. Then there are the usual quirks of people slain in the Spirit, speaking in tongues, etc. It is interesting to explain all of this to a newly saved twelve-year-old friend of mine.

    “Is that lady okay?” he asked when a woman was slain in the Spirit. I had to tell him the Messianic congregation was not worshipping the Torah, but showing respect for God’s Word.

  11. Dan McGowan

    One thing we do at the end of our services is that the pastor has everyone reach across the isles and along the pews and hold hands as he closes in prayer. It’s a wonderful “family” thing to do – but I have often wondered if visitors find this a bit TOO “intimate.”

    Also – after announcements, our pastor ALWAYS (without a doubt) says, “Okay, we have covered the water front… let’s greet one another.” Sometimes he tries to be cute and mix it up – like “we have covered the Colorado waters” etc. If you don’t believe me, you can see for yourself at our church’s webcast… visit our home page at and click on the link “see our services online.” Enjoy!

  12. Anonymous

    hey quirks are not all bad. The day I was converted the pastor asked the congregation to kneel down to pray before the preaching started. I can not say that our congregation -btw, the church where I became a Christian and started to attend- did this all the time because two weeks after we had a new pastor. That was back in Feb 02…


  13. well, Dan, I am about as pro-Zionist as they come. But my profound respect for the state of Israel makes me inclined to think that (mis)appropriating the Israeli national flag is really not a good idea and is liable to create misunderstandings that should be avoided.

    As for “quirky things“, well, at my church, we swing from the chandeliers (like that daring young man on the flying trapeze), and we roll along the aisles like bowling balls. I loudly shake and twirl my tamborine with one hand, and handle my herpetological collection of venomous critters with the other. And all of that is just for warming up. Ya think some folks might find it a tad unusual?

    {sarcasm type=”jolly”}

  14. I thought of another… church I was going to in college (Calvary Baptist, Tulsa, Oklahoma) used to have the regular attenders stand while the guests remained seated. Not so quirky, except that that was the *only* time anybody stood. Ever.

    Including while we were singing “Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus.”

    Those wacky Baptists…

  15. lee n. field

    Quirky things my church does?

    Well, not with the current senior pastor, but with the last, every patriotic holiday we’d all stand to say the Pledge of Allegience to the the American flag, then a slightly different one to a Christian flag.

    I’m uncomfortable with the P.o.A. in general and feel it does not belong in church.

    Your Mileage May Vary.

  16. Julie

    I’ve moved around quite a bit in my life, and it always takes a few tries to find a church where I “fit.” So I was a regular attender at 10 churches in 10 years, and yes, they’re all quirky!

    There were several that seemed to have their own favorite song, like an anthem. It could get pulled out when there were a few minutes to spare at the end of the service, or when everybody was just really happy about something. Everyone knew the words, and the musician(s) had it memorized, so the visitors would just look around and wonder what they missed.

    I went to one church that never selected their worship songs ahead of time. The musicians just took requests, and someone maintained an entire crate of overhead transparencies to be pulled out at a moment’s notice. That was actually a lot of fun!

    One very large church finished their service in exactly one hour and fifteen minutes. Every time. Without fail. It was kind of scary.

    The church I attended in college built a new dome-shaped sanctuary while I was there. The acoustics were so great, the choir liked to stand single file around the balcony instead of using the choir loft.

    My current church doesn’t have bulletins or anything, but we make everyone wear stick-on name tags. Usually, a bunch of small children greet you at the door and scribble something unintelligible on a sticker for you. If you’re lucky, you’ll get an adult instead, who will brand you with a cool new nickname.

    One church I attended had the same gentleman greeting everyone that entered the sanctuary every Sunday, and I always wondered why no one told him that his extremely firm handshakes were very painful. I took to carrying more things than I needed, just so I wouldn’t have a hand free for his vice grip.

    Another church started out as a new church plant that didn’t have their own building, so they met on Sunday afternoons in the sanctuary of another church. Every week, they’d have a big potluck after the service. They liked that arrangement so much that even when they got their own building, they had their service at 4pm, with the members trading kitchen duty so everyone could stay for dinner.

    Nobody would notice this who wasn’t on the worship team, but at my current church, the pastor (who is also our worship leader until someone else steps up) always tells us during practice that he’s going to do things one way, then he does the opposite on Sunday morning. Keeps us on our toes!

    At my previous church, we never passed an offering plate. We had a plain wooden box by the main entrance, and regular attenders dropped their envelopes on the way in or out. At my current church, we have an offering basket front and center in the sanctuary, and everyone carries their offering forward to place it before the Lord. This feels weird to me, maybe because I’ve gotten used to the emphasis on not drawing attention to your giving. I often fold my check in half and hand it to the nearest little kid, who will slam-dunk it for me.

    It took me a while to catch on, but I used to attend a church that couldn’t have a baptism without having an altar call, and vice versa. They never had an altar call unless someone had previously spoken to the pastor about being baptized, although there would sometimes be additional people who came forward. I think it was those surprises that kept it from feeling too theatrical.

    There you go, ten quirks for ten churches! I’m smiling as I write this, because I remember how much I was blessed to be a part of every one of those church families, especially with all the quirks!

  17. Bill Fawcett

    Speaking of flags, what’s the deal with waving silky-sparkly (JonBenet gown material) flags during charismatic services. Frustrated ex-drill-team members? I tried to google it and one website had some lame explanation to the effect that flags occurred in the OT, so they should be part of worship. Why? We don’t wave melons or pigeons, and both of those occur in the OT; pigeons even in the context of worship.

    I’m a recovering charismatic, saw this for years , and never thought about it. Saw it last night at an A/G church which also had the requisite shofars and tamborines with lots of ribbons laying around. Oh, and a sword. Charismapentacostal, I guess.

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