Recently we attended a meeting that refused to end. The sermon had concluded. Choirs had sung. Prayers, praise, and promotions were exhausted and two offerings had been taken. Yet the platform activities dragged on. Sharon whispered her diagnosis, "They are experiencing separation anxiety."
She started me thinking. So with acknowledgment to Peter Wagner's classic, Your Church Can Be Healthy, I offer this glossary of deadly diseases.
Afford avoidance. Mechanism by which boards declare every new venture to be financially unfeasible.
Antecreativity. Repetitious humdrum in place of (ante) new and innovative experimentation, particularly evidenced in worship services.
Anticreativity. Rejection of every thing except humdrum.
Appealectomy. Removal of ability to extend gospel invitations at the conclusion of sermons.
Audioterrorism. Mechanical misbehavior of sound systems which predictably malfunction during special events.
Audioterrorists. Manipulative sound system operators—all first cousins to the sound man from hell who pulls the plug if he dislikes a presentation.
Boreality. Consequences of assigning the hymns and scripture in the final six minutes before entering the platform. Also describes sermons produced during these same six minutes.
Bullexpandia. Relentless repetition of already printed announcements.
Canon Fire. Attempting to win debates with proof texts.
Clock Delaysion. Inability to start or end a service on schedule.
Conflictiolious. Deadly infection that destroys church boards and, on occasion, entire congregations.
Costapaedia. Unwillingness to fund children's ministries.
Enthusilactia. Absence of joyous expression. More visible at worship services than at football matches.
Evangelactia. Absence of outreach.
Evangelitus. Compulsion to wash hands immediately after greeting parishioners. Aggravated by those who sneeze and wipe their noses as they approach the pastor to shake hands.
Evangelosis. Fear that new members will disrupt the status quo.
Gossipeah. Abuses "speaking the truth" as excuse to "tell all." Often exhibited with fervent prayer requests, by name, for the erring sinner.
Humerology. Reliance on humor to carry message. Afflicts those who must produce a monthly column as well as those who preach shallow sermons.
Hyperventilation. Telling everything you know about a guest preacher. Beware any introduction which begins, "I first met our speaker in 1964." cf. "Oral diarrhea."
Hypoventilation. Refusal of deacons to open the windows because Sister Jones cannot stand the draft.
Immersion Aversion. Avoiding inconvenient sacraments. "Do you realize the cost of water these days?" Over protest of the deacons: "I once had to excavate a large tree to fill the baptismal pool." Another deacon wondered if we could "dry-clean" feet before communion.
Infecteria. Site of potlucks featuring mystery loaf and jello mould.
Longevity Intolerance. Belief that pastors should transfer as soon as they exhaust their supply of sermons from the last location. Relocation is vital if members concur with diagnosis.
Microphoneolia. Energized by sound amplification to make long speeches.
Pastward Vision. Wistful nostalgia for the "good old days" combined with assertion that all would be well if the church could only return to 1952.
Preventadentia. Ability to delay any proposal by extended speechifying. Usually causes audience to "gnash teeth."
Qualitosis. Willingness to settle for less than the best. As offensive as bad breath.
Schedulectomy. Removal of meeting effectiveness caused by awaiting the arrival of tardy members before starting.
Self Disclosia. Over sharing personal details. Beware any story which begins, "on my first day at the boarding school." Separationism. Attempting to achieve sanctification through avoiding society. Advocates of "flee to the mountains" often offer property for sale at premium prices.
Substance Abuse. Sermons which are long on poetry and short on content. Particularly abusive if sermon is being translated into another language.
ThermNObureaucrats. Groups adept at impeding movement on any issue.
Visioimpedia. Refusal to look beyond next week. Although deadly, many eagerly embrace this disease, cf. with "Pastward Vision."
Zecclesiological Exhaustion. Of the making of A to Z lists, there is no end! Send in your contributions and we'll share.