10 Church Members Who Drive Me Crazy

By Chuck Lawless

I love the local church.  I really do. Deeply. But, almost every church I know has members and attenders that get under the skin of a leader. Here are 10 of those types of people for me: 

  1. The “doom and gloom” member: Nothing ever goes right for this member, and it’s never his or her fault. I don’t even like to see this person coming my way.
  2. The “on the edge of leaving” member: He’s always threatening to leave over something – so much so that you learn to ignore his threats (and frankly, wish he would leave)
  3. The “amateur theologian” member: This member thinks he knows theology, and he’s always debating something. Usually, he has his own theological stance that he fights to defend and promote.
  4. The “Did you know?” member: He wants to be “in the know” about everything in the church. In fact, he’s involved in almost all of the church’s gossip and gets angry when he’s out of the loop.
  5. The “recommitment” member: She shows up about every six months, recommits her life to Jesus, and then disappears for the next six months.
  6. The “constitutional lawyer” member: Nobody knows the church constitution like this member does, and he brings out the documents any time he doesn’t like something.
  7. The “internet sermon troll” member: He listens to everybody else’s sermons online, and then critiques my sermons in light of others. Indeed, he listens for errors more than for truth and application for himself.
  8. The “nostalgia freak” member: She knows everything about the church’s history, and she sees her role as protecting the past by fighting against anything new. You just know she’s going to oppose something before you ever bring it up.
  9. The “unforgiving saint” member: He got angry over something years ago, and he refuses to let it go. When confronted about it, he can spiritualize his reasons with the best of them.
  10. The “on sabbatical” member: No matter what you do, this member refuses to serve in the church. “I’ve done my duty in the past,” he says.  

To be honest, folks like these make pastoral ministry less than fun some days. Here’s my encouragement, though: take time to pray specifically for these members in your church. Maybe God will change a few so they don’t drive you crazy anymore.  

Posted on February 12, 2020

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • The ones who drive me craziest are the ones who constantly point out problems in the church, but refuse to do anything to fix them.

  • If it now is okay to pigeonhole or stereotype anyone, I’m excited for next week’s “10 Pastors that drive me crazy” corollary.

    • I believe I could contribute to that list:

      Middle-aged pastors who try to act “hip”.

      For the record, I’m 28 with 24 years in ministry.

      Pastors who use “church” lingo. Instead of saying, “It’s good to see you”, they’ll say something like, “We’re so blessed to have you in our fellowship today.”

    • Ironic, isn’t it? Laypeople who are so quick to criticize their pastors are often very thin-skinned when pastors criticize them. Maybe you shouldn’t dish it out if you can’t take it?

  • apostle Andrew says on

    amen all these can draw you back from Christ, thank you for sharing

  • Ruth Fisher says on

    Yup, the church is full of sinners! Even Jesus had a group of 12 that were definitely immature spiritually! I think it does help to see the struggle in each person’s life (or where they seem stuck). Our call is not to follow their demands. It is to love them which includes teaching, mentoring. The change in their heart is up to God. Seen that way, it frees us from their expectations, and pushes us to Jesus’ call. Forgive because Jesus forgive us. Love because Jesus loves me. In every church, I have been in, I have known Roberts Rules people which I didn’t appreciate at all … until there were strong disagreements, dreamers willing to spend whatever it takes, penny pinchers who won’t spend a dime, etc. I have discovered they bring gifts that if we all work together, we are the church as God designed it!

  • The whole tone of this post reminds me the laity is now to be pew peons and tithing units, just mindlessly going along with whatever “leadership” says.

    No wonder attendance is down. People vote with their feet and their wallets when they have no voice and are ridiculed.

  • Find something “Good” in each of these people. Then, through a hand-written and snail-mailed notecard, send it to them. It has done wonders for me in building relationships with the people who seemed to be nay-sayers to everything I did.

  • Ruth Cooley says on

    On the other hand maybe members shouldn’t be stereotyped or pigeonholed and should be given some benefit of the doubt. Particularly #3 wseems a little mean.

    • Dr. Billy H. Weems says on

      Maybe. However, what I have experienced from these types is that although they have never pastored a church, maybe never taught a Sunday School, Training Union, Alpha, or Disciple Bible Study Class, they know just how the pastor should do His/Her ministry. (I am Methodist, we have lady pastors, my wife is one so don’t go there.) I have a feeling that many of these theologian types may actually have a calling on THEIR lives that they have refused to surrender to. Therefore, they have to defend their stance by attacking those who have answered the call. Just my thoughts for what they are worth.

  • Jerry N Watts says on

    That drive (“me crazy”) is a very short drive. Spot on!!

  • Charles (Chuck) Deglow says on

    I just had to chuckle when I read this. It is spot on and I could give you their names. Thanks for the transparency Dr Loveless!

  • Timothy Israel says on

    Having dealt with some of these members recently, I’ve been asking the Lord help me to love the church as it is, not as how I want them to be and having been asking him to give me joy in the midst of the frustration. So, this list probably isn’t the best for me to read 😉

    It’s accurate, though. Under which category would you put the member who blasts you publicly online? Asking for a friend. Lord help.

    • I’ve been at the same church for 33 years. I had a guy do that years ago, I did nothing…I didn’t respond nor try to defend myself. I look back now and am thankful that was my approach…the character of people who do that online is evident for most of the people that you pastor. It hurts but you just 1) see if there is an element of truth to what is being said and make sure you correct it in your live 2) Remain faithful 3) Trust that the work you have put in is evident to your people and 4) Trust God to guard who you are in the minds of those you pastor. I am sorry you are going through this – Every pastor reading this can understand!! God bless and stay faithful Timothy!

  • John Babri says on

    I love Dr. Lawless. He was a professor of mine at Southern.

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