Have you ever noticed the decidedly unique personalities of the characters in the "Winnie the Pooh" stories? Okay, maybe you're like most people and just watched the cartoons as a child, or with your child, simply for entertainment purposes. Perhaps it bothers you when people analyze simple childhood characters to discover deeper meaning. If that's the case. . .sorry, stop reading now and go watch an episode of Spongebob Squarepants (did you ever notice how each character in Spongebob represents a unique personality trait. . .oh, never mind.)
Psychologists have written about the residents of the Hundred Acre Wood for years. You may not be aware of this, but Google it, you'll see.
As I look at the characters in the world of Pooh (that phrase makes me cringe just typing it) I think it's fair to say that the members of the Hundred Acre Wood and members of most churches have much in common.
Now, if this offends you. . . well, it shouldn't. If you get angry, just look at the picture of Winnie the Pooh and friends below. That should make you smile and enable you to get through the rest of your day in good spirits.
Winnie the Pooh - Some say Pooh has an eating disorder, but we know he just loves potluck fellowships, as long as the pots are filled with "hunny." The joke for years is that we will know we are Baptists by our doctrines and casseroles. Winnie is also a very nice guy and a friend to all. He would be on the "First Impressions" team, but we'd probably opt to not allow him to wear a name tag that said "Winnie." That's just a . . . well, interesting name for a man.
Piglet - This little piggy suffers from panaphobia. This is the fear of everything. He's afraid to join a small group, leave a small group, change his small group, volunteer to serve, shake hands during the greeting, drink out of the water fountain, fill out a "Welcome" card, ride in the parking lot golf cart, talk to people, pray out loud, read Scripture out loud, etc.
Tigger - This ball of energy is everywhere! He volunteers to serve, "amens" loudly during the services (at the wrong time, mostly,) signs up for every trip, event, mission, project, etc. He's a bundle of energy that starts many good things. However, he rarely finishes them and you just can't count on him to be where he says he will be. His ADHD is real or at least appears to be. He can't help that he's all over the place, but the good thing is that even though he's loud, sometimes obnoxious, draws attention and what not, he's still fun to be around. He has charisma, some would say.
Rabbit - This wonderful church member is the resident OCD example. He would say it's just the spiritual gift of administration, and that may be true, but you can rest assured that if he is teaching a class, every poster, video clip, handout, illustration, etc. will be perfect. If the schedule says a service should start at 9:15am, then it had better not begin at 9:16am. He's a stickler for details and is needed. It's just that sometimes he can get so caught up in the details that he misses the bigger picture. That's why God always bounces a Tigger into Rabbit's world.
Owl - This is the person who has it all together. He's probably the most theologically sound and wisest person in the church. . .just ask him. Yeah, he's kind of his own greatest fan. He's a spiritual narcissist. The fact is, he is pretty smart and he does know much, but he's not much of a team player because. . . well, when you're perfect, you don't need anyone else. Eventually, these owls burn out and sometimes disappear for a season. Owl has much to offer the Kingdom, but needs a good dose of humility.
Kanga - She is a loving parent and cares greatly for her child. This is admirable and honorable. Kanga would be serving in the preschool or children's ministry and most likely would be ensuring the safety and security of the children. She is the type of person who would willingly settle for less within the church so that the children could have more. She is selfless. You know, she's a Proverbs 31 kangaroo.
Roo - I love Roo. Just talked to a couple of "roos" a few minutes ago. These kids are not the future of the church. They're the present church. God fills growing churches with roos and gives us the joy of seeing them come to know Him. There's energy here. They'll break things, say dumb things, be where they're not supposed to be at times, but they're learning and growing. We raise them in the way they should go, you know.
Eeyore - This guy is depressing. We love him, but don't want to hang out with him. He's like an emotional cancer that brings everyone else down. He needs help. Perhaps there was a light of joy in his past, but due to some personal pain or being let down by others, he has a hard time seeing anything positively. To Eeyore the church is a mess. Nothing is working. "Woe is me" is his theme. Some of what he sees is real. There are always problems. No one wants a Pollyanna view, but to always be down is a problem too. Eeyore has lost his first love. He needs to be on the prayer list.
Christopher Robin - Here's your dreamer. He sometimes sees things that others cannot. Sometimes he imagines things to be true that aren't as well. Seriously, this kid imagined his stuffed animals were real. Yet, there's a need for a Christopher Robin in the church. Dreamers see that which others can't and can be vision casters. The downside is the vision casters sometimes can't see the reality of now and miss what God is doing today.
So. . . do you recognize any of these characters? Are you any of these? Truth be told, we all have probably been like one of these at some point or another. The church is made of God's people, not cartoon or children's book characters, but it's interesting to note how easily we see ourselves in these caricatures.
No, we're not changing the name of the church to "Hundred Acre Church" and please don't call me Pastor Pooh. That's just wrong.
P.S. I never saw the Heffalump movie, so I'm not sure what that thing is or his/her character traits. Maybe the heffalump represents those outside the church we're called to go find and bring into God's church? Or, maybe it's an imaginary purple elephant? I'm not sure.