Lessons In A Barnyard

Painting by Roger Bansemer

The barnyard sat baking in the afternoon sun as the evangelist stood chatting with the old farmer. Farmer Joe, it seemed, had stopped attending the little fundamentalist church down the road and the pastor had sent the evangelist hither to ask the reason why Joe had left the flock.

“So Joe,” the evangelists said with the kind of studied casualness that always harbors a hidden intent, “I was just wondering if we’ll see you back at the church sometime soon.”

Joe said nothing for a minute, hooking calloused finger inside the strap of his overalls and squinting out over the sprawling farm that he called home.

“Well, sir,” he said at last, “I reckon there’s not much need to go all the way down to the church when I’ve got myself a fundamentalist farm right here in front of me.”

The evangelist paused in confusion for a moment then begged him to explain. And so Joe began…

“Right down the way from them you’ll see what I call my “churchy chickens.” They strut around all trying to be the most important one in the bunch and getting their feathers ruffled whenever somebody else tries to get in their spot. And if some poor unfortunately bird happens to get injured or sick those other chickens will gather around it and peck it to death just out of pure spite. I don’t need to go back to that church with them reminding me every day how it was.”

“If you’ll look down there to the hog pen you’ll see my pigs. I call them Potluck and Fellowship. They’ll eat and eat and eat until they make themselves plumb sick but they never seem to feel bad about it at all. No matter how much slop I throw in there they just can’t ever seem to get enough. Why seeing them every day keeps me from ever having to attend another special function or church banquet.”

“And down the hill there you can see my prize bull in the pasture. He spends all day stomping around, bellowing and trying to remind everybody who can see him that he’s the one running the show in these parts while spreading around enough manure to make it a hazard to even try to walk through there. In fact, he only ever stops the bellowing and manure spreading for long enough to try to mount every heifer in the place. With all that going on here every day it keeps me from missing my old pastor at all.”

The evangelist walked slowly back to his car and drove back to the church. “I guess he’s attending somewhere else now,” was all he could think say to the pastor’s inquiries about how the visit went.

88 thoughts on “Lessons In A Barnyard”

  1. “Getting their feathers ruffled” — perfect use of phrase!

    “They never seem to feel bad about it at all” — That’s something that baffled me. I was always wracked with guilt over all sorts of minutiae, but it seemed some people in the church were loud and proud and I never understood why they never seemed as guilt-ridden as I. (Your story applied it to overeaters at fellowships but the attitude could apply to many in the church.)

  2. You could add some gossiping geese. What church is complete without some old biddies who share “prayer requests”? ๐Ÿ™„

    1. With lots of details “just so you know how to pray,” of course. ๐Ÿ™„

  3. My mom has had a recent bout of guineas (a football-shaped yard bird with an abnormally small head). They would be the preacher boys of the church. Always making an obnoxious racket, running off on tangents, and suffering needlessly out of stupidity (3 guineas have gotten killed–one by dog, one by car, and one hung herself), all the while doing nothing productive. If they make it to graduation (aka adulthood for guineas), she’ll have a 50% success rate.

  4. OH, yeah, almost forgot…Mom has a male donkey as well. I’ll let you figure out where he could fit in.

    1. One day when hubby and I were out front, a neighbor’s donkey started braying; I mean he was really making a racket! Hubby says “I’m happy to know I’m not the only jackass around here!” :mrgreen:

      1. What a lot of people don’t realize is that donkeys also have amazing sight. They can spot an intruder (church visitor) 1/4 mile away with no problem. They’re also faster than they look. They’re also sneaky. So that donkey can be upon that intruder and trample it before the intruder knows what’s coming. The only warning is the bray, as he’s about 10 feet away. The only thing worse than being branded an intruder by a donkey is being the object of his friendship. They bite to show affection…

  5. That’s hilarious and has some good truth to it! :mrgreen: The MOG must’ve been making a lot of money off the farmer as he wanted him so bad he sent an evangelist to reel him back in.

    We must not have been worth anything because we never even got a phone call, email, or letter after we left. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

      1. Same for us also. We could just feel their Christlike “love”. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

      2. I think we were getting referenced in sermons for about a year before we left. I have no idea, everything that was said was vague enough to be innocuous but cutting enough to have a “point”. If all of those references were directed at us (and I suspected they were), the whole situation was a pathetic JOKE.

        1. Any of you ever had a sermon preached about you after you left? It would probably only happen in a small church (a guarantee of remaining small!) since I didn’t think we were that important, guess we were at least to the pastor. We heard about it later.

          The sermon was entitled “Why people leave churches” and covered 4 points, and one was “disagreements in coffee shops.” We had met with the pastor the night before we left in a coffee shop. And it was far more than a mere disagreement but he wanted to belittle us by making it out that we left only over a small disagreement! It was far more than that! ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

          I always felt what he did was playing dirty pool because he could stand behind the pulpit, the place of authority and rag on us (without mentioning our names of course, but everyone there knew exactly who he was talking about!) ๐Ÿ’ก while we were not there to tell our side of the story. Not that we would’ve badmouthed him, we had more integrity than that! Too bad he didn’t. After this several people from the church unfriended us from facebook, we did not unfriend them. Those who were more mature and could do their own thinking remained our friends. ๐Ÿ™‚ After all we didn’t leave because of them but because of HIM! ๐Ÿ˜ก

        2. @Macushlalondra – Yes, I was “preached against” for posting to SFL at a former church (it took me a while to settle on the name “Guilt Ridden”) and some of my earlier posts apparently hit a little too close to home. Some “member” pointed it out to the pastor, who then blasted such practices. The public blasting was anonymous and didn’t mention SFL. I heard later, via REAL friends, that he was identifying us to several people as being problem members and me as being the poster here.

    1. I didn’t get a call, e-mail, or letter either when I quietly left, and I was on staff for 9 years.

      1. We weren’t contacted either, but not to one-up aow, we not only got a sermon dedicated to us, we got a staff meeting and a general instruction to not fellowship with us anymore. I guess we were contageous.

      2. We didn’t get anything from anyone, but we told the pastor we were leaving; we didn’t go into the things we didn’t like that were going on.

        But since we weren’t leaving with his blessing, there was no handshaking, no “thanks for your 15+ years of work”, no nothing… it was an afterthought to the last service we were at.

    2. The MOG was not missing the tithe. He was missing the farmer’s daughter who brought fried chicken to the church potluck.

    3. If the farmer meant that much to the MOG, the MOG would have gone to the farmer’s house himself, rather than sending a minion.

  6. Shame on that farmer for not wearing a suit and tie when the evangelist came to visit.

  7. I got rid of my rooster and the hens get along amazingly well. They sure let me know how they feel about things though. I get lots of complaints when I don’t feed them what they want (bread). And yes you can tell their moods by their cackling.

    1. I’ve heard from a couple of people with chickens to avoid having a rooster. The presence of a rooster initiates the pecking order syndrome, and it’s just not fun at all. haha.

  8. Speaking of the pigs….

    I had one nice Dutch lady who made homemade rolls for my wedding reception which was, or course, in the basement of our IFB church. She must have made over 200 rolls by herself and they tasted great. She had a skill for making any type of bread from scratch and I was thankful for what she did because we saved money on our wedding. I was also touched she would do this for us.

    Anyway, one person took it upon herself to take the rest of leftover rolls home for herself! My mom went back to the kitchen to clean up the food and they were GONE. She was SO mad because she was going to divide up the leftovers to all of the people who worked on the reception.

    1. There are people like that woman in every church. We have several in the church we are in now. (I work in the kitchen, so I meet all of them.) The difference is that in a *normal* church they are dealt with when they are discovered. In a fundy church they are probably in leadership somehow.

    2. You think that’s bad, someone helped themselves to the top tier of my wedding cake.

      1. That’s an insult to you because they denied you the fun of getting to unfreeze it on your 1st anniversary to eat it.

        That’s the lowest thing I’ve ever heard of.

        1. Thank you! I’m glad someone understands that it just wasn’t cool! If they wanted cake to take home, they could have gotten a giant chunk of the enormous rest of the cake! I don’t know what’s worse…the theft of cake or the fist fight the MIL and SIL (mother-daughter) got into over the bouquet! You know it was all about them!

        2. My mom and abusive stepfather got into a fight that day. Of course, they fought every day, but still..did it have to be on MY day? I remember being really hurt over that. The pastor was in such a hurry to get the basement of the church cleaned up, that people started cleaning up the hall while my hubby and I opened gifts. I was so embarrassed. I guess I was supposed to open them at home? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

  9. I happen to see a note on top of my pastor’s Bible one day and on it it said:

    AWOL and then it listed ALL of the names of the people who were missing that Sunday morning.

    AWOL? Were we supposed to get permission or make sure our pastor knew when we were going to be gone or go on vacation?

    1. My old pastor took attendance. During the opening songs of any service he had his clipboard and would scan the pews to see who was in their place. This from the man who EVERY service would hold up the Bible and loudly proclaim that we do everything according to the Bible. He never did mention which verse(s) address taking attendance.
      I’m surprised we weren’t made to sit in alphabetical order.

      1. A man like that will always be in a congregation small enough to actually “number”. (not “name”, because you are a number not a name to these mog’s)

      2. He was a Northland (WI) Bible graduate. That must be something they teach in Preacher 101, no? How to take attendance.

        1. Buy a clipboard
        2. Use the AWOL guidelines found in the handbook for our armed services
        3. Decide when it is considered AWOL, one or two services consecutively. Use your own discretion there.
        4. If need be, rebuke before all, so that all will fear.

        This happened to me when I finally came to church after missing four weeks in row. I had just had my oldest and I was told in front of the entire Sunday service …”it’s about time you bring that baby to church.” I just cringed. I was anemic and that’s why I didn’t go to church. Is that considered providentially sick? No one came by and offered to help me cook or clean, only my mom and sister. I guess I didn’t rate any help.

    2. Did he think it was the military? You weren’t allowed to miss a service for being sick or going out of town unless you cleared it with him first? They can’t do that to the regular members but once you get involved in a ministry they definitely treat you this way. That’s why they make you sign those idiot papers with all the requirements one of which is being faithful to all the services unless “providentially hindered.” At the former church my “providentially hindered” was that the thought of hearing yet another hour long diatribe by the bloviating blowhard made me sick to my stomach! Ok that’s not nice and I shouldn’t have said it. But I don’t think I’m going to edit it out. :mrgreen:

        1. “Providentially hindered” — Yup, that is what we were told too.

        2. “Providentially hindered” = whatever reason the pastor finds acceptable. It doesn’t matter if YOU know its a good reason, if the MOg doesn’t approve, it clearly isn’t providential.

      1. @Macushlalondra – no, they don’t think it is the military; they think it is a dictatorship (I would say “kingdom”, but in a kingdom there are rules for selecting the new king when the old one goes away). They believe that they are your spiritual head and show always know where you are.

        By the way, in our new church, the pastor is always appreciative of those who notify him when they cannot be there – it is a small church and it is noticeable when anyone is absent.

        1. We also let the pastor know when we won’t be there, at first my husband did this and I told him he didn’t have to account to the pastor like we had to with the former church (if you didn’t, he’d send a “loving” email asking where we were) but his habit of doing this was a holdover from the former church. This pastor would answer back that our not being there was fully understandable under whatever the circumstances were. What a difference! The former pastor would practically call us liars or slackers for whatever the reason was. One Sunday night the streets were flooded and we couldn’t plow through them. My husband emailed the pastor to tell him this and the pastor emailed back that he ought to have plowed through them, which could’ve meant serious damage to the vehicle and quite costly repairs. For ONE service? This reaction, built upon several other things was part of our reason for leaving. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

      2. I got a phone call from my pastor’s wife when we missed a couple of weeks b/c my paternal grandfather had heart surgery one week and I can’t think why the we were gone the next week.

        I didn’t see my grandfather alive again b/c he died three weeks later after the surgery which he never woke up from. I was pregnant with my firstborn and he never saw her. Otherwise, she would never call me just to chat b/c according to her hubby, that was considered gossiping. OMgosh, don’t get me goin’ on THAT subject! ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

    3. I attended a fundy church recently that had the members fill out a card every week and put it in the offering.

      I attended a Church of God a long time ago and they had sign-in sheets on clip-boards on every pew.

      1. My non-fundy mega-church asks us to fill out an attendance card every week, and I’m okay with it. The church is so big that it could be easy for someone to fall away without anyone noticing. I think if someone misses three weeks in a row, they’ll get a call from a pastor to make sure everything is okay. And by “call from a pastor,” I mean someone who loves his church family and isn’t calling to be a second dad and scold a “prodigal” for missing church.

        1. It is quite amazing, isn’t it, going to a church where the the pastor saying, “We missed you this past week” actually means ‘we genuinely missed you last week’ and not ‘you were AWOL last week, explain yourself.’ ๐Ÿ˜€ I love it.

        2. When this would happen at the former church we’d just say thanks and leave it at that. They’d stand there as if waiting for the explanation of why we were MIA and we’d say nothing further. To get over the awkward moment I’d just say, “So how’ve you been?” ๐Ÿ˜‰

      2. Yeah, I was told my former fundy church is doing that now (they always kept track of attendance, even sending out letters to those who missed).

        My current church has recently started asking members to fill out a card and put it in the offering plate. I heard elsewhere this practice originated with Rick Warrens book…IDK. But I told my current pastor, in a nice way, I will never fill out that card. Never be tracked like that again. Ever.

    4. It’s standard practice in most churches to visit regulars who miss church without explanation, to see if they’re sick or need anything. But not to scold them for missing church.

  10. When I saw the title, I had a flashback to a phrase my (adulterous and predatory) former pastor loved to use in his sermons to teenagers:


    1. I grew up on a farm and that phrase is very curious to me. Barnyard animals don’t neck or pet, they pretty much get straight down to business.
      But why would a Mog let facts ruin a good rant?

      1. The “acting like barnyard animals” refers to sleeping around, I believe.

    2. OhMYGOSH! JessB, did you go to church in Southern California by any chance? Those were the exact same words my *Preacher* used to talk about it when I was in high school.
      Another thing he used to say was that he had more respect for a hooker than for us girls who would “go in the back seat of a car with a boy” because at least the hooker was getting paid for it.
      I had all sorts of wrong attitudes toward sex due to him, thankyouverymuch.

      1. No, Sims, but I’m willing to bet our pastors went to the same college or at least were in the same network. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      2. Whelp, my pastor used to say he had more respect for a hooker than someone who would miss soul winning. So there ya go. ๐Ÿ˜›

        1. Yep, red flag. Ignore the many, many exhortations in the New Testament to ALL believers to live holy and to love one another. Instead, focus on a third of the Great Commission, and THAT is the only standard by which one stands or falls.

  11. And way down in the corner pasture far away from all the other animals you have Mr. and Mrs. Horse. They’re old but faithful, quietly doing their work, not drawing attention to themselves. Not much is said about them, nor honor given, because you know, they’re a couple of old beasts. They haven’t been groomed in awhile, their hoofs are worn, shoes are falling off, and certainly the stall where they spend most of the time hasn’t been cleaned in ages. But yet, they go on without complaining. So when a deacon horse position opened up one of the sheep casually mentioned old Mr. Horse down in the corner pasture, but all the other animals yelled and screamed during the barnyard business meeting, “no, we donโ€™t want him!” Instead, they wanted the new, good-looking stallion who just arrived on the farm. Sure he was young and untrained, but hey, he was the money horse.

    1. Much truth to this.

      I can not help but think of the old faithful horse in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” who was discarded when the pigs in leadership decided he was no longer useful.

    2. And since he was a race horse, not a work horse, he ran around in circles, destroying the grass in the field, and ran off and left them with no hay when the winter came.

  12. We got yelled at/preached to by the completely ministry inexperienced youth pastor that he was “tired of seeing the girls from the youth group at the mall, wearing jeans tight enough to attract all the dogs in the neighborhood.” That’s the youth pastor who left at Christmastime without one word or explanation. So maybe there could be some flea ridden mongrels hanging out near the farm, hoping to lead some pretty bitches down the road to ruin. :mrgreen:

    1. Ah, the midnight u-hauls strike again!

      Disappearing staff – you just know something bad happened but will never be told and YOU BETTER NOT ASK..

      Have you tried googling his name? He probably ended up at another church where he will do the same thing. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

  13. In response to the AWOL note on the pastor’s Bible: I had a friend who attended a fundy church (BJU brand) where she was “exhorted” for skipping their Sunday night and Wednesday night services to attend Bible Conference at BJU. The deacons called her BOSS at BJU (she was an employee at the time) to find out why she had not been attending church for 2 services. They also harassed her with daily phone calls. Needless to say she soon found another church ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    1. Once you are on their payroll (no matter how piddly dink the amount) that pastor thinks he owns you. You don’t just work for him and then go home and have your own time. You have to account to him for how you spend your time at home when you’re not actually working for him! I will never forget overhearing a conversation between the school principal and the pastor. It was a Thursday and the pastor was drilling him about how he had spent the evening before. He’d been to church of course and the pastor asked what he did when he got home. He wanted a list type accounting for every activity from the evening before! I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t believe the principal was actually standing there answering the questions in a respectful tone as though he were a child! This was a man in his 40’s at the time I think, and he had 5 children. And he was accounting to the pastor like some slave. It just galled me. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

  14. For the my last few years in fundystan I felt like the duck in the pond; swimming around and around in circles, expending loads of energy but never really going anywhere.

  15. Bahahahaaa! Did you write that yourself Darrell? It’s a departure from your normal style but it’s hilarious!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  16. Boy, that hit the nail on the head. I’m sooooo glad I don’t go to ANY fundy church anymore. Actually we have not been to church in over a year, yet I feel closer to God than I have ever have. I’ve actually been sharing things with my non Christian friends that I never would have before. Going to church, DOES NOT make you a Christian or make someone any more “holy” contrary to what the raging bull says!!!

    1. When I got out of the fundy church, it took me a few years to find one that I could be in and relax. But God was with me stronger then and more evident than ever in my entire life. I still have trust issues, and while I *THINK* I am in a good church, it is exhausting constantly being vigilant that I am not being led off track again. I do know that God doesn’t need us to be in a church to speak to us, that He can do that anywhere we are. But I did miss the fellowship and the structure of church enough to be willing to give it another chance. And another and another.

  17. This post is hilarious! That comment about the 2 pigs that will eat anything relating to the gluttony of food fellowships (Fellowsh*ts, as my mother used to say) is just so perfect. I really do think gluttony needs to go on the list of Mog pet sins to preach on. That would be interesting. This post was perfect!

    1. Please God no. It would be turned around to mean that all women should be thin and conventionally pretty with teenage breasts and firm chins, and those who weren’t were obviously shoveling it in like hogs, naming no names but nod nod wink wink. And when the fat person suddenly became thin, they would call it a miracle instead of telling her that losing forty pounds in a month was not normal and she needed to see a doctor to rule out thyroid trouble or cancer. Oh, and there would be a church ladies exercise club at which you must present just the right appearance, and the club would only meet at times when certain people (you know, those selfish paycheck mothers) could not attend, and if you didn’t exercise three times a week at the club you were not taking care of your temple, honey, we say this in love.

      Meanwhile the gluttons among the men would be just as gluttonous as ever. And the rate of eating disorders among young women in the congregation would skyrocket.

  18. If we are talking about farm animals, we need to discuss George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” – cause there are a lot of similarities between it and Fundystan.


    “I will work harder!”
    – George Orwell, Animal Farm, Ch. 3

    On rebelling and leaving the farm:

    “It was given out that the animals there practiced cannibalism, tortured one another with red-hot horseshoes, and had their females in common. This was what came of rebelling against the laws of Nature, Frederick and Pilkington said.”
    – George Orwell, Animal Farm, Ch. 4

    On the making of personal decisions:

    “No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?”
    – George Orwell, Animal Farm, Ch. 5

    “Napoleon is always right.”
    – George Orwell, Animal Farm, Ch. 5

    On pastoral worship:

    “It had become usual to give Napoleon the credit for every successful achievement and every stroke of good fortune. You would often hear one hen remark to another, ‘Under the guidance of our Leader, Comrade Napoleon, I have laid five eggs in six days’; or two cows, enjoying a drink at the pool, would exclaim, ‘Thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon, how excellent this water tastes!'”
    – George Orwell, Animal Farm, Ch. 8

    – George Orwell, Animal Farm, Ch. 10

    1. This really makes me want to reread The Animal Farm, this time with Fundyland in mind!

      1. The part about how the rules get constantly, covertly re-written is spot-on…

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