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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  • 1 trait typically shared by individuals who otter the ten sentences (and many others):

    They simply have not matured to the point where they understand with their heart, in Christ, that it is “faith that works by love”. The simplicity of Christ.

    The love of Christ is the only power that can separate a dead human being from a dead spirit (soul from spirit). Thank God for the regeneration and maturity in Christ!! 🙂

  • Mark Chapman says on

    Pastor, there’s a really great preacher on TV every Sunday morning at 9:00. You should watch him sometime.

  • Said to my husband a lot: “Have you heard what _________ (church) is doing?”

  • Jen Norvell says on

    My favorite thing ever is when members return from being out of town and hand me the bulletin from where they worshiped while they were gone to “give me ideas.” Of course it’s usually a church with hundreds of members, multiple staff and a huge budget. (Our church is small with myself and my husband plus a p/t music minister and p/t admin.) Irritates the beejezuz out of me when folks have the “bigger must be better” attitude.

    • I feel your pain. It really irritates me when people talk about how “we need to reach our community”, and then they drive an hour on Sunday morning to some megachurch in the next county. They’re essentially saying, “We’re too good to help out those puny little churches in our community.”

    • bob van baren says on

      Yes! The bulletin giving with ideas in a context that is totally different than yours! Great call on this one

  • I know this is meant as a humorous post, and maybe my comment is out of place, but it does have me thinking …

    My husband and I are concerned, our young church plant is in a deep struggle right now, over half the leadership has left (some for bad reasons and in bad ways) and there has just been massive conflict and attrition. The pastor is a godly man and works hard with all his heart for this church. But, honestly, some of the issues that the church is having can be traced back to what really seems to us as mistakes on his part. We honestly want to help, since if this keeps up the church will not survive. But it’s hard to know how to approach such a conversation in a way that is respectful and helpful.

    Any suggestions on how to go about this? Or better to just keep our mouths shut and pray for him?

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts …

    • I went through a similar situation a few years back, though the conflict wasn’t “massive”, it was significant, and ended up being a main reason for things calling apart.

      Not sure if they allow this on here, but my email is [email protected], if you had any interest in talking about it. Any advice I would have to give would be pretty context specific, and a comments section might not be the best way to lay things out.

  • Steve Eldridge says on

    Not a Pastor but having served over 15 yrs. as organist in my home church and 8 yrs as Minister of Music at another church I have heard some pretty funny and sad things. #3 and #6 grabbed me pretty good. It use to amaze me at what people *( church family)* could say to you but over the yrs. and getting much older I suppose nothing phases me now…Folks will say anything, unfortunately they usually forget to engage their brain before they wag the tongue… And, that is sad!..

    Always had this one sweet lady up in yrs. to tell me, “you played to loud”! Being in my late teens that was hard to take, since no one else ever said that…The fact that i had an entire sanctuary to fill along with a piano and full choir who wanted to hear what I was playing, I suppose made no difference… Sometimes I would quietly just walk away and others I would express that next week I would try to do better…It’s funny now but wasn’t then…One of the best funnies was, “you played that old song way to fast”…I don’t suppose that I realized I was suppose to be several cords behind the Music Minister and Pianist…

    Well, I guess i better “Shut Up”…This is an incredible blog…Pastors are human beings to of the best kind and need somewhere or someone they can vent to…You each have been called for a reason…Do not allow the stupidity of brainless tongue wagger to stop you from what God has called you to do…”There is a Soul somewhere waiting for you to show them the way”!
    God Bless You Always…

  • Pastor, we love you and feel like if you do this (church statement of faith, the church did not have one) it will hurt your ministry and we don’t want to see that happen. Their love lasted until the church adopted a faith statement.

  • Traci A. Maass says on

    I am in my first call. I have heard a lot of these in the short time I have been here. I have a couple to add…

    “I am saying this on behalf of the congregation because someone has to be a voice for them.” (Yet, when I ask for names, none can be given because the person was told in confidence).

    “My child is a really good kid, so I don’t have a problem with them playing soccer instead of attending confirmation every week. “

  • Steve Pryor says on

    Great job, as always. Lay person here, not pastor. On the “people are saying” point..if a Church member comes to a lay leader with an issue, doesn’t the lay person owe it to the pastor to share?

    I understand that this is not the best way for the “complainer” to address his concerns, but once the issue is brought to a deacon, elder, etc,,shouldn’t the lay leader share the concern?


    • I can’t speak for other pastors, but I don’t pay attention to anonymous complaints. If it doesn’t have a name attached to it, it’s not worth my time.

    • as soon as they start say” oh well if you have a concern about the pastor lets go ask the pastor.” Nice and direct and will quickly stop those with no real case.

  • Kenny Heath says on

    During the invitation a man comes forward and says, “someone has parked a motor home in the parking lot and it is taking up more than one parking spot”. What are you going to do about it”.

    • Justin M. says on

      I’m going to make sure they got invited to worship. And if they are already here, I’m going to thank them for making church such a priority that they postponed/came back early from their camping trip to join us this morning. That is what I’m going to do.

  • Clarence E Enmen Jr says on

    But the former Pastor always cut the grass….. New Pastors response… Well I checked wih him about that…and he said he wasn’t interested in doing that any more… lol

  • Nathan Craig says on

    I always like it when they tell me a verse I should of used for a specific topic I preached on. I usually stand there thinking ” and there are about 20 others I could have used but that’s the only one you know that goes with the topic”. Its also always a verse that’s always used on the topic and unfortunately has had its effectiveness lessened.

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