Posted by: watchman | July 9, 2009

The Willies

Do churches get the Willies?Don'tPanic

You know what the willies are, don’t you? Here’s a definition:


    A state of nervous restlessness or agitation: fidget (often used in plural), jitter (used in plural), jump (used in plural), shiver1 (used in plural), tremble (often used in plural). Informalall-overs, shake (used in plural). Slangheebie-jeebies, jim-jams.

Today, I was helping a guy replace insulation in a crawl space. I had about 3 foot of clearance between the dirt floor and the floor of the house above. The space was filled with rodents, insects and sundry unmentionables.

Now, I am not claustrophobic, and I do not fear rodents. However, from time to time, I would suddenly get the strangest thoughts. I would feel things crawling on me or get a sudden creepy feeling and have crawl out into the open air. After a few moments, my sanity would return and I would be able to get back to work. As I crawled back into the hole, I would berate myself for giving into irrational fear.

The Willies are those half-crazed moments when fear and panic get the best of us. They are the heebie jeebies, the shivers. Sometimes they make us do crazy things. For instance, once I thought I felt a mouse crawling up my pant leg today and started shaking my leg and batting at it violently. If you would have seen me, you would have been convinced that I was out of my mind, and maybe I was.

What happens when churches give in to irrational fears? What behaviors are displayed when change or transition occurs? Are such behaviors a result of inherent evil, or are they just a case of the willies?

Local Church Leadership Mtg.

Local Church Leadership Mtg.

I’ve been pretty convinced that the institutional church’s tendency to run people over has been a systemic resistance to the good of change. But, now I am starting to wonder if we have not just been caught in the middle of a headlong, panicked stampede. The great Herd can’t contain themselves when they see change  ahead. So, they run like crazed maniacs and don’t care who gets in their way.

I hope this is the case. Crazed fits of irrational hysteria seem much better than systemic evil.

What do you think? Your church got the willies?



  1. D’you realise that ‘willies’ means something rather different in the British vernacular? I’ll think about your post more seriously just as soon as I stopped sniggering…

  2. Marika, I demand that you let us in on the joke.

  3. Nevermind. I just looked it up! HA!

    You should ask around: “Does your church have a willy?”


    I apologize if I made you stumble, or lust in your heart, Marika. 😛

  4. ….only you Corey….now I know what a willie is and a wab ” …I def . am gettin educated here…LOL

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