Ten Sentences That Make Pastors Cringe

Let me take you behind the scenes again in the life of a pastor.

For sure, your pastor is not likely to let you know the pain these brief sentences cause.

But, for most pastors, they hurt. They really hurt.

Here are ten of the most common painful sentences uttered to pastors by church members:

  1. “I love you pastor, but . . .” The pastor will only hear the words after the “but.” And they usually are painful.
  2. “Why didn’t you visit her?” Of course, she’s not a member of the church. She was in a hospital 70 miles away. And she’s married to the third cousin of the church member.
  3. “Gotta minute?” This question is typically asked in the time frame of one to five minutes before the pastor preaches.
  4. “Have you heard this podcast pastor?” Meaning: That podcast pastor is better than you.
  5. “Pastor, people are saying . . .” Of course, there are no “people,” just the gutless person who won’t speak for himself.
  6. “We’ve never done it that way before.” And that is one of the key reasons the church is dying.
  7. “I do pay your salary, you know.” In other words, it’s not God’s money; it’s my money.
  8. “I wish she had heard that sermon.” And the pastor was hoping you heard the sermon.
  9. “I wish I worked just a few hours a week like you.” After all, the pastor just needs 30 minutes to prepare a sermon and 30 minutes to preach it.
  10. “Your kids need to behave like pastor’s kids should behave.” You can find those standards in the Bible: Hezekiah 3:16.

What do you think of this list? Pastors, what would you add?

Posted on April 25, 2016

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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  • Brian G. says on

    Two I hear pretty regularly:

    1. Why aren’t there more young families attending…but we better sing only hymns!
    2. When are you going to lose weight.

  • Yuriy Iordakyyev says on

    I’m a bivo pastor working full time at secular job (and my wife who’s a praise and worship leader) and also leading a congregation of 50. I’m not getting any money from the church but rather our family was the largest contributor.
    One lady says “Hey guys I think you’re going on vacation too often!”))

  • Yuriy Iordakyyev says on

    Church member is leaving church abruptly . I’m politely asking what is wrong and if he wants to tell why he’s upset. The guy replies angrily “Ask the Holy Spirit if you really want to know and He will tell ya!”

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Probably wouldn’t help to tell him the Hoy Spirit does not seem present when he’s around.

      • Or you could say “The Holy Spirit”? “Didn’t your mother teach you not to speak to stranger”?

  • Yuriy Iordakyyev says on

    Pastor, your church is the best church in the world! I’ve almost giving up in search of a true genuine church and finally I’ve found it! From now on I’ll be attending all your services! And you know by the way you are THE MAN! I’ve never met real (and I mean it!) pastors before but it looks like I just did! My previous pastor wasn’t really a pastor but YOU ARE!

  • Bland Campbell says on

    Pastor, during my quiet time this week God told me ___________________.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Oh, I wish I had included that sentence! Thanks for the add, Bland.

      • Deborah Harvey says on

        We’d do well to remember that God doesn’t only speak to ordained persons.

      • Debroah. Keep in mind they are ordained of men to be preachers – not God.

        No where does in the Bible does it say you have to go to divinity school to preach.

        What school did John, Paul, Peter attend?

      • They had the best seminary professor of all – Jesus!

    • No, God does not speak exclusively through pastors, but many people – pastors and laity – use the “God told me” routine as a method of manipulation. After all, who are any of us to argue with God? I often warn people about using such tactics. The Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

  • Here’s two that I hear:

    1. Why aren’t younger adults attending…but we better only sing hymns.
    2. When are you going to lose weight?

  • At my first church which was a family owned and operated church. My family was invited to have supper at the home of the Matriarch of the church. Her husband, just before we ate looked at me as we were sitting with the entire family (3 sons, 2 wives and 2 children) in the living-room and said “Preacher, we need to talk” and the he took me into his bedroom! I thought I was going to get a whipping! I had asked the Deacons (2 of the 3 sons were Deacons) the week before to adopt the Deacon Family Ministry program. It was my job to look after the families of the church!

  • A member of 60+ years chewing me out … To a couple renting our church for a birthday party.
    The ones she was complaining to about me are our dear friends, who rent our first floor apt, that we’ve been doing life with over the past 25 years. She a Catholic, and he is a Jew.

    Please Thom, talk me off the ledge!

  • Church members are sinners. Church pastors are sinners.

    The nature of temporary residency in a fallen world.
    All we can do is obey & fix our eyes on Jesus until the day we resurrect with Him

  • I am following a 52-tenure of an evangelist/pastor. I embrace the role of evangelism, but my gifts are mostly expressed as a pastor/teacher. A couple of years ago, I received a letter from “a concerned church member.” I should have tossed it without reading. It upset me for quite a while.

    But the funniest line in the whole letter was “One should not have to ponder the content of the message.” Clarity is very important, but I actually took her complaint as a compliment. Don’t all preachers want their people leaving the church “pondering the content of the message?”

  • As a youth/family pastor, I hear, “when are you going to be a real minister?”

    • I ran into one of the bi-vocational student pastors at the Y. We had done a few events together. He asked, so what do you do?”

      Confused, I answered, “I’m a youth pastor.”

      “No, I know that. I mean, in the real world.”

    • Thom Rainer says on

      That is really a pathetic statement, John.

    • That was my biggest pet peeve
      Beacuse kids take so much care =$$$ and don’t provide $$$$ yet we want them to overcome the world on no budget or ways to be a kid in a church
      We hand them our seconds instead of giving our best and expect a better outcome

    • I’m also a student pastor and was recently ordained. A while back, our senior pastor was on vacation, so I had to go to the hospital and pray with a member of our church who was dying. After the prayer, another member of the church approached me and asked, “So, are you going to go into the ministry?” I know it was an innocent question, but I wanted to reply, “What do you think I’m doing now?!”

    • I was asked this once as well..by the church secretary! I didn’t even know how to respond.

  • Just remembered another.

    “As you know, our general fund is getting down there.”

    Uttered right before I was fired from my last church.

    • Thom Rainer says on


    • Yep… I am right there with you. About to be terminated or in search of a job in about two months. One of the deacons said recently at a business meeting, looking me in the eyes, and with a voice of accusation, “Our funds have never been this low!” I didn’t say a word as I looked at my dear wife in the back of the room as her demeanor expressed her pain and disdain. The reason is that we are not growing, course, is my fault. Another member, this week, called a former pastor from 20 years ago and ask him to pray the church call a new pastor because I am not growing the church. I must mention that she and her husband make 8 services per year.
      I am hard to all this after 10 years as a pastor. I do not worry about remarks or termination. Nothing I can do about it so why fret? I will preach until the earthly inevitable.

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