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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311 Comments

  • Todd Crofford says on

    After 27 years of ministry I have found that when making a difficult decision like having to replace a volunteer or address a sinful circumstance people will complain with the line “I know you had to do something but I just don’t like the way it was handled. They don’t realize that no matter how you handled it someone wasn’t going to like how it was handled

  • Donald Dennis says on

    When asked at my annual ministry review what the elders might do to help my ministry, I replied, “Encouragement and constructive advice.” The chairman elder then replied, “We are not here to feed your ego. So that will not happen.”

  • Wesley Ingle says on

    I have one of my seniors in the church tell me that being a pastor is the closest thing to being retired and still get paid for it. He saw me coming out of the parsonage one day around 2 PM and asked me if I was just waking up. He says all of this jokingly, so I laugh right there with him.

  • Sandra Holtzem says on

    I am not a pastor/preacher, but I enjoyed reading the original post and the comments that followed it. It seems that no one in authority gets the respect their position merits anymore and that is sad. It is especially sad when there is such a high expectation for our pastors’ work and such a low expectation on how to treat them or how they might actually feel as fellow human beings. After all, we can all go to our pastor to share our burdens, concerns and frustrations ~ but they can’t very well go to us. I appreciate all the pastors I have had and the ones I will have in the future. Thank you!

  • Dana Schindler says on

    At my fourth board meeting in my new call (I moved from Missouri to Wisconsin) one leader asked “Pastor, now that you’ve been here 4 months, what are you going to do to get new members into the church?”
    I said that my friends all live in other states or are sitting here right now. I have nobody to invite yet. I have to depend on members to invite people for the most part. I will preach the best sermons I can, I will visit the sick and homebound, I will lead ministry outreach in any way that anyone wishes to join me in, and if you get someone in the door I will do anything I can to get them engaged enough to return. But each one of you has to come to church, participate in ministry, pray for our church and me, and invite everyone you know.”
    I’m in year 2 now.

    • Adrian Rogers used to say to his congregation, “My job is to fill the pulpit. Your job is to fill the pews.” Your reply was a good one, too, though!

  • Is there a way to embed your blog and podcast into my Facebook page? I’d prefer if it would just automatically post in my feed.

  • Mark Carpenter says on

    Pastor, I’ve got your back!

    Or, I didn’t vote for that!

  • Andy Minard says on

    I am guilty of the “podcast” one. A better way I’ve learned to share a resource…
    “Pastor, I’ve come acrossed a resource that made the points A and B. Could you help me understand this a little better?”

  • James McBride says on

    My favorite – “I was praying the other day, and God told me I was supposed to give a message (sing a song, make an announcement, etc) this morning” – Funny thing, God usually “forgets” to inform the pastor, music minister, etc. about that individual’s involvement.

  • Wow. That’s strong.

  • “Pastor, I wish I could be in real ministry like you are.”

    Answer: You can be….just start ministering where you are. ????

    • I like the reply.

    • D. C. Wheeler says on

      One Sunday morning after I had preached on the need to support World Missions, a man said at the door, “All that around the world stuff is okay, but what are we doing right here?!” I told him, “Every Sunday we release over 100 missionaries to our community. Now get out there!”

      He didn’t come back for a while.

  • These 10 and others mentioned in the comments are ones I’ve heard as well (except for the cow one). The most “cringe worthy” I have heard in ministry was in response to a situation where our senior pastor was asked to be a neutral moderator at a deacons’ meeting in another church. The topic was whether to dismiss the music director who had an affair with a deacon’s wife. There are a lot of details that I don’t really have space to share, but the gist is that the music director did not repent and did not feel he should lose his job. The consensus of the deacon body was to keep him on staff because he was a “good music minister” and they are hard to find.

    The quote: “We know what the Bible says, but we feel this is what God would have us do.” Twenty years later and this still makes me cringe to think people could believe God’s will would ever contradict God’s Word.

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