Eleven Reasons Pastors Are Trusted Less Today

January 20, 2014

A day does not pass that I do not hear from a hurting pastor. Serving in that role has to be one of the most challenging vocations today. Sure, there are some bad and immoral pastors. But the vast majority of our pastors serve their congregations in a way that honors God and makes a difference in the community.

But both anecdotally and by objective research, we learn that pastors are trusted less and held in lower esteem each year. A recent Pew Research poll found that the favorable view of clergy had declined to 37 percent of those surveyed.

Why are pastors no longer held in high esteem? What is behind the precipitous drop in favorable ratings almost every year? Allow me to offer eleven possible reasons. As you will see, they are not mutually exclusive.

  1. The moral failures of a minority of pastors receive widespread coverage. The media loves the sensational stories behind clergy failure. For sure, some stories such as sex abuse should be brought to the public eye. But many people now believe the bad behavior of a few is normative for all pastors.
  2. Our nation has marginalized the Christian faith. So it should not be unexpected that leaders in the Christian world are viewed more negatively.
  3. Pastoral tenure has dropped significantly over the past few decades. Tenure is up slightly the past few years, but the longer trend is down. Trust is built over several years, not two or three years. Fewer pastors have made it to the point of several years.
  4. Some church members have a strong entitlement mentality. They see the local congregation as a place largely to meet their needs and desires, rather than to serve and give. If those needs and desires are not met, the pastor is often the locus of blame.
  5. Social media encourages criticism from a distance. There is much commendable about social media. Indeed, I am heavy user of it. But it also is a means for critics to sound off about pastors (and others) without forethought or consequences.
  6. A few pastors have poor work ethics. More pastors are just the opposite; they fight workaholism. But the few pastors who are lazy and have little accountability hurt the perceptions people have of other pastors.
  7. Pastors are often the scapegoats for fear and change. It is cliché to say the world is changing rapidly. Many church members would like their churches to remain the same every year. Such a reality is not possible, and the pastor is often the scapegoat for the discomfort that comes with change.
  8. There is a pervasive cynicism in our society. The reasons behind that reality are many. But congregations and their leaders are not immune from this widespread and pervasive cynicism on society that seems to be growing.
  9. There is a failure of some pastors in two key areas: leadership and emotional intelligence. Some pastors are well prepared biblically and theologically. But some have not been taught leadership and healthy interpersonal skills.
  10. There are higher expectations today for pastors to be competent, even dynamic, leaders. But, as I noted in the previous point, some pastors have no preparation to be leaders of churches.
  11. More churches are dying in America today. I estimate as many as 100,000 churches in America are dying. Many will close their doors in the next few years. Many of the pastors of these churches are blamed for this malady.

I love pastors. Most pastors are wonderful servants of God, yet their plights are often very difficult.

What do you think of these eleven reasons? What would you add?

And allow me one footnote: please pray for your pastor.


Image Credit: elev8.com

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171 Comments

  • As newly weds, my husband and I had to make the heart breaking decision to leave the church where we were married. Despite the rumors swirling (started by none other than the pastor), we didn’t leave because of the church members. We left because of the pastor, his harsh leadership, his lack of love for the believers entrusted to him, his mis-use of the pulpit (it was used for his political views and not the preaching of the Word of God) and his unwillingness to respect the other men on staff at the church. Having walked through that, I do have trouble trusting pastors now. Thankfully, God opened the doors for us to attend a church where we already had connections and the pastor already knew us. This pastor has shown us love and is helping us heal. Pastors, watch yourselves carefully. The reason your congregation doesn’t trust you may be your predecessor or it may be you. However, I believe that in many cases, your faithfulness and your acts of love will help change the lack of trust. I know that that has been the case for us.

  • I’m in my first congregation – Richard Rohr comes to mind when he says that man is ultimately wound in his sexuality and his relationship with authority. I must say that I don’t feel so alone anymore when I see that the same struggles u face in America is just the same here in Africa. Is there still a future for the church or its authority? I don’t know – it seems more and more that the new “house of god” is the new mall around the corner – but I will always believe that we will never lose our love for the Word and its authority in our lives.

  • I like the Biblical solution; the qualifications for a pastor, staff, and members are listed there, follow the directions.
    I like the action plan that we can do now, pray for your pastor!
    Better yet, go visit him. Yes, YOU.
    Ask how you can pray for him; as he replies, look at him, listen to him, linger for a moment, imagine what it is like to be him for a day, not in the pulpit but in the throws of high drama with other peoples’ problems.
    Reach out to touch him, a pat on the back or a hug. Then encourage him, help him up off of the floor.
    Pray for him, pray with him. Have his back in prayer, it is a gift that money can not buy and you have it to give.
    Ask about his family here and elsewhere.
    Remember that he must minister to the most misunderstood, marginalized and under appreciated member of your congregation, his wife.
    If he makes much of Jesus, you make much of him!
    All of the above hinges on ONE thing for me, am I praying?

  • Scott Cassel says on

    As a part of a connectional denominational system, I have been disheartened by the baggage I am forced to carry because of what other pastors have done before me. I have fond myself saying, “But I’m not *some previous pastor’s name* frequently in my ministry. Not usually the galactic moral failures; more often small, unprofessional, uncaring, things that chip away, the respect and relationship for the position little by little. I think this list is accurate – and I think in many ways we have seen the enemy, and he is us. I pray that my actions/decisions/reactions/behavior in ministry are not destructive to my colleagues, present and future.

  • #4 really to me seems to be the biggest issue. I’m a pastor’s wife 2 times, my late husband was a pastor of a huge church, and my current husband of a small rural church. It is the same. Few people doing everything, so naturally they are the targets. I notice the biggest complainers in my experience have been the ones who are not involved using their gifts. They want the church to be open every day of the week just incase they decide they need it for that particular time; but a commitment? I don’t see it except probably in 10% of the local congregation. My dad was a pastor too, so I’ve grown up in the church and really see that most of those who attend, feel its the “leaders” church when things go badly but “their” church when they want changes. My husband has really tried not to start any new program until he sees that leadership is in place and there is a need. We have been bullied and talked about and in our little congregation some have left and taken others with them because they believed it was time to start a new program, but were no where around when we needed leaders to help us. They wanted us to start it–and then guess who is stuck doing it when they don’t attend or decide to walk away. Most of those who left were not involved in helping. If you see something you don’t like, pray for us, ask us to pray for the possibility. Ask God if He wants you to head it up. If there is no one then pray until God provides that person. But when you leave, you hurt yourself and then you leave a hole and gifts that God could and would have used. You hurt us when you leave. Enuf said for now. :).

  • Gregory Lawhorn says on

    I served for 12 years in a church where distrust in leadership was decades old and simply part of the DNA of the church. Whatever the reasons (it’s not for me to judge motives), it came out as a strong sense of ownership, each person acting like an unhappy investor rather than a member of a family.

    • Gregory,
      I know how you feel. I have seen this in several churches (as a member, a pastor, or an observer).

    • Im serving in this type of Church right now. When we try to do something to make a change or improve things there is a great fuss that is caused. Our eldership stops anything to improve the church immediately because it might upset someone or because it is different than what they want. They also have shown a distrust and heavy hand on ministers.

      Unfortunately, often times a new minister coming in does not know of these issues until after they start and find themselves stopped from working. I was left feeling like I had no idea what I was doing and ready to leave ministry because our church continues to decline and I could not understand why all of my ideas were shot down and not allowed to be tried or canceled after we just started it. It was only after I was told that my predecessor had run a state church planting group before moving here and the church declined under him as well, that I started to think maybe I was not the problem. After taking a hard look at the issues we are having and reviewing them with others, including others in leadership at our church, I have come to realize the problem is a few key leaders (more specifically their wives) that feel they have paid for this church and they own it. The (unstated and unrealized) mission of these key leaders is to keep the church the same for them until they are no longer on this world but sadly they are killing the church by not allowing outreach.

      This was never more real to me than two days ago when I was told if I wanted to reach out to those outside of our church I was to do so by reaching out to people who have left our church only (or who have never been committed but attend occasionally), rather than reaching out to those who don’t know who Jesus is.

      • I am a different Mark.

        You need to read Jay Guin’s blog on what to do when you have bad leadership (elders/deacons, etc.). He blogs at oneinjesus.info. You’ll have to search for it but he wrote lots on it last year.

  • 5.Social media encourages criticism from a distance:
    I have seen this before Facebook, … We live in a Hand grenade society. All you have to do is throw something (unverified, 1/2 truth, etc.) out there to see the explosion without having to get too dirty yourself. Example: At a budget meeting sometime ago, a member who loved to throw hand grenades made the comment, “you get a professional allowance, why so much for expenses in dealing with the youth? Oh, I didn’t see the time, I have to go.” he was the one that set up the “professional expenses” for books, retreats, … I have seen this pervasive in the church today, and only getting worse.

    • And did anyone call down the thrower of said grenade? People will push as much as they can until they get called to the carpet, then they will return to square 1.

      • Mark, No, no one called him on it or any of the other stuff he did there. To include the Sr. Pastor (I was associate at that church). Not even when he left a big note on the pulpit a Sunday the Sr. was out and it was my first time to preach in his place, as I was with the children’s time that read, “Hey stupid, keep it short”

      • I am not surprised. I don’t know the person’s age, but I remember being told not to upset the old people. I thought to myself, just why do they get to do anything they want without concern for anyone else affected because they are old? Unbeknownst to me at the time, I think I saw the beginnings of the intergenerational strife that is plaguing every organization today, including churches.

    • Sometimes, the people that throw hand grenades just need to get rid of it. What I mean is that they may see something amiss and are too timid to speak up about. When the problem persists and no one else seems to notice it or want to do anything about it, the pressure builds within the grenade-thrower and it finally gets thrown. They leave after throwing it to avoid the confrontation that they so fear. If they did not fear the confrontation, the problem would have been brought forward sooner without the use of hand grenades.

      • Perhaps some need to be taught how to respectfully argue. Jesus was not timid in the slightest. Perhaps a sermon on Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple with a whip is necessary.

  • Sometimes pastors fail to do the hard work of loving discipline of unruly members. I have seen this peel off scabs and add authenticity to the Body. It’s very hard and very scary but it is also very biblical.
    Sometimes we as pastors act like the parent who wants to be friends with his kids no matter what they do. That never ends well.
    This may fall under the lack of leadership and emotional intelligence. It may also explain the growth of some churches that differentiate between a teaching pastor and a lead pastor.

  • In re 9 & 10, every job I know of has increased the standards and the demands of the position. The ministry is no exception. For a long time an average man (men only at that time) could get some education, practice preaching in tiny churches, enter the ministry, and stay in the same pulpit for most of his life. This is now something that can enter the history books, like cheap houses, easy to obtain jobs, forty years with the same company, a gold pocket watch upon retirement, and a pension.

    However, the seminaries have some culpability in this too. I believe the fear of preventing someone from entering the ministry plus not wanting to be responsible for causing a shortage of ministers (since there were many small, rural churches), plus the preventing of women from entering seminary (which fortunately has about ended) led to the seminaries accepting people for study who probably should never have been admitted. Now some who should not have been admitted went on to do great work and others flopped. This will never be prevented but the ratio of successes to failures should be calculated and can be to some certainty. I would rather have a shortage of minsters/clergy than a glut of mediocre ones.

    Perhaps the standards for seminary admission should be raised. Somewhere during seminary should be a year long period to be spent in chaplaincy, a church, or something similar where the candidate has to demonstrate that he or she can work with people and where the practical aspects of ministry and clergy life are learned. Just because a candidate competes all the coursework for an M.Div. (the new de facto ministry credential) does not mean that he or she should be ordained. This practical knowledge can not be taught by lecturing nor is it found in any book.

    Also, does the seminary use active or retired minsters/clergy for practical training of new students or does it use faculty who may never have had to work to resolve a congregational dispute/rift? There is a big difference in have bible knowledge and knowing theoretical ministry and the reality of being a spiritual leader.

    Also, churches should be willing to allow seminary students to come and preach, especially during the summer. Give the minister a month off of preaching responsibilities and let the students have the pulpit. The minister can critique the sermon and help the student. The congregation will likely appreciate someone new there. Summers are generally less formal. I don’t believe I have ever seen this occur. Let the aspiring minster preach a sermon in front of a real congregation, not just his or her colleagues and professors.

    Lastly, there are some up and coming women in the seminaries who are top notch and are going to make some mediocre men look really bad. They will give everyone stiff competition, and I think the church will be better off for having them. The standards are about to get raised,

    • Many do. I had CPE requirements, and parish requirements under others, not to mention 3-4 years of having a mentor pre-ordination.

  • This article is so out of touch its offensive.
    No, churchgoers don’t feel “entitlement” its that we’re sick of being told that WE are the problem when something is wrong in the church. People in the church are unfriendly? It must be YOU. You dont have food to eat? Its must be YOU. If I hear “If you dont work you shouldnt eat” thrown at one more person in need I’m going to puke.

    If you search pastors that have had issues or moral failures its NOT just a few… its a slew of them. In addition they act like power hungry jerks, and they *expect* that when they become pastors they should never have to work a regular job because they are a pastor. Who’s engaging in entitlement thinking?

    Ever since I stopped going to church I feel that my life more closely resembles that of Christ. Rather than supporting a pastor, I am helping the poor and disenfranchised… and those who simply cannot help themselves. When I find a church that not just teaches but LIVES biblical truth I will return.

    • Wow … I really sense a Christ-like spirit in your comments. Not associating with God’s people (the church) must really be working.
      I’m sorry you had a bad experience with a pastor, but God has designed us in Christ to be part of a body of believes. It is in that community we find encouragement, correction, love and growth. It’s time to surrender and come home to the Body of Christ.
      I feel your pain.

      • Why should one go back to a place where one is being blamed? It is like people not wanting to go back to a church where they are being condemned to hell in 2 out if every 3 sermons. I feel for her. The body of Christ is far bigger than one congregation.

      • God seems to continually allow that kind of trying person in our lives so we can see for ourselves where our heart is for hurting people. Sometimes there’s just no logic to it. I’ve been unhappy as church member and as a pastor, at that point, anything or anybody can become a reason or excuse to blame the difficult situation on when the real problem was my on spiritual walk.
        Situations or other people can be part of what bothers us, but we get to decide wheather they are obstacles or opportunities by our actions.

    • pastors do work very hard to prepare the messages that they are going to preach on each service. researchers for science make a ton of money, n pastors research daily, if devoted, to prepare a message for the members of their church. if people are not taught of hell, then they will never know of the eternal damnation they will face after death if they have not been saved by the grace of God. they also are woken up all hours of the night with phone calls from people needing their counsel b prayers. pastor that are called by God hurt when their church members hurt. they cry with their members and they are affected mentally n physically daily. when you find a pastor that is a true man of God you will realize that he is the most kind, compassionate, loving, caring, and honorable man you’ve ever known.

    • Larry Elrod says on

      Melanie,
      As a pastor who has served without salary in a ministry which serves and works with the marginalized and disenfranchised, also know as the multi-generational poverty culture, I have struggled for nine years to fully understand this different point of view. I understand that survival mode can often lead a person to feel like a victim of circumstance. I also understand how the efforts of our government and social agencies to help people in need has often left them feeling stuck in a life that is barely enough and with little hope of getting ahead without paying a terrible penalty when they lose health care, child care, housing and food assistance, and educational programs because they have a regular job that disqualifies them from further help. To me it seems to be a terrible form of slavery. The struggle to make any change seems overwhelming. And yet, without some change, there can be no freedom. And that is where the person comes in. We can only do so much to help others. Jesus told the lame man to get up and walk. It was up to the lame man to get up and walk. Jesus told the blind man to see. it was up to the blind man to see. I must help others get well not just tell them to get well. However, they must also do what is necessary to be well. It is a difficult truth but if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got. If who you are has brought you to where you are at, what makes you think that who are is going to take you somewhere else. Everyone needs a guide but everyone is responsible for taking the journey. My heart constantly breaks as I share the hope God offers to people who are too afraid to let go of their fragile system of survival and put their faith and trust in God who loves them and wants their lives to be a testimony to His goodness and grace. May the Holy Spirit take these words of comfort and stir your heart to believe in all that God has in store for you.

    • Melanie : I am so sorry you have been so hurt. I think if indeed you are falling in love with Jesus again you will be healed and able to forgive all who have hurt you.

      • If she’s really “falling in love with Jesus” (note the romanticized language in contrast to the language of Lordship in the Bible), then she’ll love the Body of Christ, the church, and submit to the leaders the Lord Jesus has raised up in it. To offer her condolences without confronting her about her sin (for example, violating Hebrews 10:25) is not Biblical and thus not pastoral.

    • Antwan Johnson says on

      I am a minister of the gospel. I am not employed by a congregation….and not sure I fully want to depend on one for financial security. I feel and for the most part agree with your statement. God bless.

    • Melenie, It’s definitely you. You’re living in rebellion against the Word of God (for example, Hebrews 10:25) and seriously need either to humble yourself or even more fundamentally consider whether you are really a Christian at all (2 Corinthians 13:5).

      • John Carpenter,

        Enough already with the judgment and condemnation. Jesus left the 99 to search for the 1.

        Remember the “Shepherding Movement”? It was almost cult-like in its insistence that people “submit to the leaders God has placed over you”. It was unbiblical but it carried on for years and did untold amounts of damage to Christians in their churches.
        Your line of reasoning with Melanie is EXACTLY the same as the Shepherding Movement.
        I encourage you to repent.

      • I was a part of a church that spawned from the “Shephering Movement” from 1992 to 2002. It has been a rough road to recover and trust organized churches. I believe that ALL churches need to take a good hard look at themselves to make sure that the eggs spawned from that movement did not infiltrate teir church. A little yeast, just one infected person, can cause disaster. Please pray for me and my family to heal from our experience and its consequences.

    • While I don’t agree with you in full, Melanie, I do think you have hit some of the problem head on. I’m seminary educated and I served on staff at a church for a time, so I’ve been around that block and I’ve also been hurt by a church, so I’ve been there too. There are some wonderful pastors out there who love God and their congregations, but who are still sinners and make mistakes. Then, there are others who use the ministry as a way to promote themselves, build their own kingdoms and stroke their own egos, all while avoiding the account ability needed to walk humbly and faithfully with God. The problem is not just that church leaders don’t love their congregations or that congregants don’t submit to their pastors. The problem is that we are ALL sinners who desperately need a savior.

    • Douglas Brown says on

      Sounds like you need some serious therapy.

    • Rodger Castle says on

      Since you have “quit going to church”, how do you deal with this Scripture?
      Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
      Without being critical of others, I believe you need to seek forgiveness for “forgetting your first love” and re-establish yourself in a church.

    • I’m sorry but I have seen a sense of entitlement. It’s what scares me away from many churches. You have church members that are like we’ll my daddy and grand daddy were in this church since it start and so we should be apart of ALL decisions but it’s the whole body. Or when a poor person comes in for help they turn a blind eye to them. I was raised in the church and what I saw from a poor kids point of view I was never able to be at all the youth events but I’m ok with that. I actually agree with this article in it’s entirety. Good writing sir. By the way I still go to church because a church is not a pedestal of saints but a hospital for the sinner. Jesus saves not the church.

    • Hi Melanie. I think my thoughts resemble yours in many ways. I used to hand my offerings to the church business but I’ve never felt easy about it. As I’ve read scripture and compared it to what is going on in most “churches” today, I see much contradiction. For instance, we are supposed to take care of the needy. But I see “pastors” taking money from little old ladies that can hardly pay their bills with their limited income. That infuriates me. I’ve stopped giving money to the Institutional church and have begun giving my money to the needy in my church community. A “pastor” should get a job and stop relying on the tithes and offerings from needy people. Another thing, the whole clergy/laity thing is not even biblical. It’s man-made.

    • I think Catholicism needs separated from Christianity. Christian churches take the hit for catholic priests…

    • Jeffrey Taylor says on

      If you think you have found the perfect church it was perfect until you got there.

  • Another Paradigm – From basic needs to excessive compensation. – As pastor’s salaries have grown their lifestyles are becoming worldlier. Don’t misconstrue what I am saying – I believe that our pastors need to be reasonably compensated. However, when the IRS increases its audits of churches to determine the appropriate level of pastor compensation we have reason for pause. Churches often pay pastors according to their size. Mega-churches are on the rise. Many mega-churches are disguised by a central campus with numerous affiliated offshoots. Regardless, modern churches are basing compensation on size. Many mega-churches hire compensation consultants to determine the appropriate levels of pastor salaries. And, it is increasingly more difficult to discover what a pastor’s compensation really is. Many mega-churches provide exceptional employee benefits (i.e. – health insurance, retirement plans, housing allowances, travel reimbursement, and etc.). I believe this is a paradigm that distracts pastors from their primary purpose.

    • Rev. Kim Seidman, an episcopal priest wrote from her Bishop: “You are not the CEO of a not-for-profit. You are the spiritual leader of a faith community.”

      The bishop knew of which he spoke. It would do others well to not forget that.

    • I stopped going to church based on number 4 of the list. I was dying inside and am very broken and couldn’t get anywhere with God is another reason. I certainly didn’t blame the pastor but it did sicken me when he’d compliment the congregation on how great they were.

  • About six months after coming to my current church (almost two years now), the wife of a prominent couple in our church told me quite clearly that she didn’t trust me. I asked her the reason and her response was that there was no specific reason, she just didn’t.

    This person has been a constant thorn in my side for the entire time I’ve been here and I honestly don’t see that stopping. I’ve prayed about it, sought reconciliation with them, etc. and nothing has broken through her hardened personality. Although I don’t have a clue why she’s never trusted me and continues to do everything she can to undermine my ministry here, I feel sorry for her. She seems like one of those people who is not happy unless they are angry or upset about something. I know she was also this way with the last pastor who was here for more than a decade and with their previous church (she’s told me so herself) so it isn’t just me.

    So I suppose my only add to your list of reasons is that sometimes there is no reason, it’s just the hard hearted nature of some.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      That hurts just to read it John. I am praying right now for you and for her.

    • HI, JOHN
      I know how you feel. Going on a little over five years pastoring; I still have members who attack me and the ministry of the church. Boy it hurts, and if you allow it, the hurt will stop you in your tracks. I should know it did me. But, I can truly say God is good! You may already know this, however, I had to learn this; stay true to the Word of God, love those who hurt you, focus your heart on those who encourage you, and rejoice in Gods faithfulness. I can truly say I love my church and the ministry God has placed me in.

      • All of this is making me think about a book I just read about the Jezebel spirit. Read “Jezebel: the witch is back” by Landon Schott. It tells you how to identify and deal with it.

      • I too was thinking “Jezebel”. It was the first thing I thought of as a read John’s comments.

    • Philip Bohlken says on

      I know of a woman who did not like her pastor because he reminded her of her first husband.

    • John: I am also praying for you. Please consider our current thoughts on some of what you are undergoing right now. It’s currently posted at http://www.renovatorministries.org

      Abide in Him I pray,

      George

    • Could be some cultural aspects to this as well, John. We’ve heard similar comments but always in the context of the pastor/wife being the outsiders of a community. In many communities, if you didn’t grow up somewhere then you will never earn the right to be trusted or accepted into their lives. I really believe that the root is in a lack of trust in God, which is a broad root, but it seems to be an authority-based issue that likely transcends into other areas of folks’ lives.

      • Leah, you’re right on the money about “the root is in a lack of trust in God”…lack of trust in the pastor is only a symptom of a much larger problem in American churches today.

    • Antwan Johnson says on

      Im praying for u pastor.

    • Take a deacon/elder and confront the individual and ask her to stop the destructive behavior (scriptural approach). If she doesn’t, take it before the church body.

      • Yes, you’re right. The loss of the Biblical practice of church discipline is one of the main causes of the problems. Indeed, several of those eleven points are fruits of failing to obey the Lord Jesus’ direction to confront sin and excommunicate (Mt. 18:16ff.)
        The loss of church discipline should be one of the main reasons pastors have lost trust.

      • I tried this with the lady Deacon in my church. She was making demands at every juncture that if I didn’t obey, she would leave, taking as many with her as she could. She counter-accused me of lying, and one of the witnesses who already had an issue with me because I asked her to apologize to someone she had offended, is now even more confused. I hope to clear things up soon, but I feel rather discouraged.

      • First problem is a female deacon. Also women seem to be worse than men and when women act this way towards a man is because there is a deep rooted unresolved issues towards a man somewhere in their past

    • I also have seen this same issue, it was truly a thorn in my side. If she continues to be a thorn to you then just live as Paul and allow God to show even brighter. My prayers are with you.

    • To discover the root of her perennial distrust, you may need to go all the way back to childhood. Maybe even her parents’ childhood. Sometimes farther. I would not worry about it too much. Just make sure you’re acting and ministering with godly character, integrity, and earnestly. Maybe she’ll come around eventually. Maybe it will be such that her grumbling and accusations and suspicion are eventually considered ridiculous by the entire church and community. But be patient and persevere because if you get short with her or quit, you’ll only reinforce her doubt.

      When my wife and I came to our church now almost twelve years ago, we were fresh out of Bible college and wet behind the ears to the point we didn’t need to shower. One of the couples in the church said, point blank, “We were at this church before you got here, and we’ll be here after you’ve gone.” They had a clear distrust of pastors bred by a decade of pastoral instability in the church. Two or three years ago, he told me he loved me like a son. Last year, she told me she couldn’t see anyone else pastoring our church. I’ve been told they’ve also pulled aside our district superintendent (I.e., our denomination’s equivalent of a bishop) and told him on multiple occasions that I’m a superb pastor and he had better not try to take me from our church.

      I don’t recount that to toot my own horn but to encourage you. Somewhere between year 1 and year 12, we won this couple over. I’ve seen studies that suggest it takes seven years to gain the rapport to truly lead. In some places, it’s longer because of history and such. The biggest key for me in this article is to stick with it, faithfully and consistently discharging the duties of our ministry for the long haul.

    • S. A. Morrison says on

      John, I do share with you. I would not say that I know how you are feeling, but I sure do understand. I have encountered a similar situation. I have been pastoring the local church where I’m at for 22 years. The better part of these 22 years I have put up with basically the same kind of attitude and behaviour. Things go so bad that I had no recourse but to disfellowshipped her from the church. She has done everything that she possible could to destroy my ministry. But I refused to let her. I have been serving The Lord for over fifty years, been in ministry for over 37 years; this is my 4th pastorate, and I have never seen anyone like this. Nevertheless, despite of her disposition, I have not allowed it to distract me from my pastoral mandate. Consequently, after many counselling, admonishing, showing love etc, Nothing worked. So my last resort was discipline. All I can say John, hang in there and don’t let this individual cause you to lose you focus.

    • John, what worked for me? I started loving all her family and extended family. They did the work for me. By showing them grace and mercy through prayer, it took a couple years. but now, she’s one of our strongest supporters.
      God Bless
      Rod

    • John James says on

      Is she on medication for uncontrolled irritability or something? Does she need counseling? Has anyone tried to help her? I know some of this kind of people need psychological/psychiatric …help, perhaps.

    • This lady is a good example of why you are in this church. You are there to solve her problem and she quickly shows herself to you and instils doubt in Jesus’ ministry in your hands. Of course this is what as a pastor you have been called to deal with. She wants you to convince her that you have not come to solve your own problem but her’s. being in the church, you as her Pastor should know that she is desiring God and it is your business to lead her to Christ in Love. She is ready for spiritual conviction and seeking Christ in her life in a very passionate way. All the others have failed her and she is an honest woman (seeking Christ in spirit and truth) and so confesses she doubts if you will be different from the others. When she must have met Christ, you will now prepare her to also go out and present this Good News to the people of the world (loss ship). She is going to be one of your most faithful Christian in the long run. Please Pastor, be intentional with her. Do this and send me the feed back. Not all those who are in Church are have had a personal encounter with Christ. Some have had but many are just hungry for it. Also, the levels of hunger and thirst for Christ and His word also differ. So each christian needs special attention as we teach and equip them for every good ministry work.

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