A Bible Belt Survival Guide

Except for a single semester in college, I have never not lived in the Bible Belt. I’ve also experienced firsthand – and for long stretches – what some people call the buckles: Nashville, Dallas and Abilene.

For the carpetbaggers among us, the Bible Belt is that swath of the religious South not easily understood by eastern bluebloods, western free spirits or pragmatic midwesterners, though the latter likely relates the most.

The Bible Belt’s culture is frequently stereotyped in national entertainment and media circles.

It is even parodied within itself by folks – yes, folks – like Jon Acuff, editor of the Web site “Stuff Christians Like,” along with Christian comedians Tim Hawkins, Tripp Crosby and John Crist.

These content creators certainly differentiate between (A) making light of the idiosyncrasies of God’s people and (B) making fun of God.

They would likely point out that Jesus himself had his biggest field days with the religious people of his day.

The humorists might even adapt Churchill’s line, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others,” by saying the church is the worst form of religious organizations except for all the others.  Jesus did give his spirit to his body, after all.

But sometimes we maintain our sanity by laughing at ourselves, which is my intent with the following survival tips.

Whether your radio station is The Fish, The Rock, The Way, The River, K-LOVE or W-JOY, the same record labels seem to control the playlist. It includes the same five songs, and they all sound about the same. For artistic health, mix in some U2, Tim McGraw and Mat Kearney.

You will go to church with someone who makes you want to bathe in the baptistry when you finish talking to him. Tape your top grace-themed scriptures to your shampoo bottle.

There will be more service opportunities than you have time or energy to fulfill. Boundaries will blur as guilt creeps in. A well-timed decline of a volunteer solicitation may keep you from burning out in areas that matter more.

Small groups have many names: care groups, community groups, life groups, heart groups, Hebrews 10:25 groups. They all mean the same thing: Christianity is more relational, vulnerable and transparent than most of us would naturally prefer.

Whether your group is church-sanctioned or just a band of believers, intimate allies will keep Christianity relational, not just cultural. The church did start around a dinner table.

If you hire a plumber with a fish on his business card, he may not be any better at plumbing – or treat you any more honestly – than a plumber with a Harley sticker on his truck. As Reagan said, “Trust and verify.”

Finally, author John Eldredge tells the story of a tour guide he experienced in the Normandy region of France, site of the Allies’ 1944 D-Day invasion. The dull docent demonstrated nonchalance not commensurate with the heroism that happened there.

“He had all of the facts, but none of the story,” Eldredge observed.

For believers deep in the Bible Belt, may the same not be said of us.


Kevin Thompson can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

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1 Response to “A Bible Belt Survival Guide”


  1. 1 jessestroup September 8, 2017 at 14:17

    Thanks for using your talents in writing to express important and timely truths about our lives. I will reflect on it again and read it again. The quote from Churchill and the Normandy docent, “He had the facts but not the story,” stand out in my memory after my first quick read. Have you or Sarah heard any update on Sterling? Happy Birthday Preston. Having his friends over this afternoon is a nice gift to him; more than he may realize. Christian hospitality is core in the KoG.

    Jesse Jesse Stroup Director of Spiritual Care

    JesseStrouplive@yahoo.com 6300 Harry Hines Blvd. BKB 101 Dallas, TX 75235 (888) 767-6363

    >


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