One Weird Letter as an Example of What Pastors Have to Endure (Particularly in a COVID Era)

I received an email through Church Answers a couple of years ago. A team member sent it to me because she thought it would lighten my day. It was a bit strange after all.

I decided to hold the email for a while and choose a good time to share it with our readers. Our team has noted that the COVID era is a period when all the complaints pastors get seem to be coming at once.

Well, this letter epitomizes this era. I changed some of the verbiage that would identify the writer, the church, and the pastor. Note that the writer is not a member of the church. She decided to do her own investigation based on the complaints of others. She further insisted that Church Answers do its own investigation of this pastor.

The Weird Letter

Hello. My name is Betty and I am writing you a formal complaint against Bill Jones who is the pastor at Community Church in Gravetown.  I had heard numerous complaints about his so-called preaching and I decided to make a couple of visits to the church. 

In my opinion, he shouldn’t even be a pastor, let alone be the pastor at any church. Here are my reasons why. I think your organization should take time to investigate this matter. 

First of all, he calls the church site a campus, and he does not refer to it as the house of God. Secondly, he only reads one Bible verse, and the rest of the time he is either talking about sports and how teams played or not played, or he is talking about his children. 

Then it’s all about politics. He said abortion was a sin. I thought the church and government were separated. 

Then, there are also these two reasons for him to be removed as a pastor. First, he has actually canceled a Sunday evening service, and we know that’s against the Bible. Second is how he allows the people to dress. After all, this is the house of God and it should be respected and honored in God’s name, not wearing clothes that show too much or shorts. 

Then there are the iPhones used instead of the real Bible. All this he allows, which shows he truly doesn’t respect God or the house of God himself. 

I hope you take the time to check all this out for yourself and not just take my word for it, because he has been known to lie to members, saying he would do something then come up with an excuse. He will stand up in the pulpit not dressed as a pastor but in regular clothes. 

He also talks about money. They wouldn’t need money if the church had not remodeled their gym as a community center. The church is not supposed to be for outsiders. I thought this was a church and not a community center. I thought Bill Jones was a pastor, but he’s not. Thank you for your time, but I won’t be back to that church with that so-called pastor.

Please send me a copy of your investigation report. Thank you for your time.

Our Team’s Response

After much deliberation, our team decided not to investigate nor respond to the letter.

Posted on September 21, 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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  • Wow, it’s hard to read this letter as a pastor but not surprise at the writers self-righteous attitude. I believe if we follow Jesus’s ways we would not be worried about what people are wearing as much as how their souls are, because I believe we are called to proclaim the good news of Jesus saving grace for all people.

  • Makes me think of the lady who wanted the pastor to go to the church convention and tell them to only use the King James Version of the Bible: After all, “if it was good enough for Paul, it should be good ebough for us!”

  • Here is a letter I received:

    “I can definitely sing for the outside service.

    As mask wearing has been such a divisive thing lately, I struggle with feeling like I’d be causing more work, or a problem. I am legitimately uncomfortable singing with a mask on stage. I’ve even struggled with watching the song services online when we are masked. I find it antithetical to what Christ would actually do. I will respectfully decline to join the ensemble if we must be indoors and masked.”

    Really struggling with how to respond with those who “boycott” when people around them don’t wear masks and others who “boycott” when I ask my singers on the platform (and livestreamed) to please wear a mask when they are singing. Any insights?

  • My response:

    Dear Betty,
    I just got off the phone with Pastor Bill Jones and I mentioned your sentiment of not returning to Community Church. His response to me was, “Praise God for answered prayer. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” He also wanting me to assure you that he was referencing 2 Corinthians 12:8 from a traditional, leather bond, paper and ink Bible.

  • John Nininger says on

    Thom, I am always inspired by your commentary and other reports. Thank you for the many issues that you present regarding our Baptist beliefs and other areas of concern that confront your readers. These are very trying times that we Southern Baptists are going through and we need our Lord Jesus more that ever! We love you and pray for your ministry every day. Love in Christ……… John & Peggy Nininger (Highview Baptist Church, Louisville, KY)

  • Is it possible that this was just some sort of satirical letter to point out absurdities in the church?

  • Troll Email? I sure hope so. If so, it’s sort of funny I guess… I’ve seen much funnier things on Babylon Bee, but it’s decent. If it’s a legit email then that’s pretty sad.

  • When people are anxious and/or scared, and it feels like life is out of control, they grab onto any person or place they can dump their anxieties and fears on, and try to control *something*. Her concerns about this other church, not even hers if I read correctly, are a “presenting problem” that mask the real issues in her life…which may be the ones a great many of us are facing right now between COVID and the general unrest in our country.

    This writer deserves some sympathy, and some prayers for her peace of mind and if one had a relationship with her own pastor one might relate one’s concerns to that pastor so they can compassionately address whatever’s actually going on with her; but Church Answers’ not investigating or responding is definitely the right call.

  • Suddenly, I feel better about my own ministry.

  • This is a time when I am helping more pastors and churches engage in crucial conversations with individuals and groups. I am offering crucial conversation coaching to one pastor who is dealing with a person who very well could have written the letter you shared.

  • Thanks for reminding us that it could be worse 🙂

  • Judith McAllister says on

    I am amazed, but not surprised that someone would go to such lengths or even take the time speak of such tings. Every bit of her complaint has absolutely NOTHING to do with the heart of God, his Kingdom and what is most important to HIM! Heaven help us ~