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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  • Jane Velkoff says on

    Thought-provoking comments , Coincidentally , if your company is searching for a a form , my company discovered a blank version here http://goo.gl/7X3Zef

  • Thom, this is my first time on your blog. Found it by accident.

    I broke my Internet rule and started reading through the comments to discover some of the posts were erudite and some were spot on and a number made me laugh.

    And then you get the humor impaired. I feel sorry for them. Don’t let them get you down. They interpret their refusal to laugh at the foibles of those who serve and are served as some form of holiness that is better than yours.

    I pity them. The laughter in Heaven is going to make them miserable.

  • I had to announce from the pulpit that I no longer wanted to hear, “I have to talk to you after the service. You either talk to me right then or there or announce your intention *after* the service.”

    I also had to announce from the pulpit that if they wanted to relay important information to me, to write it down and give me a note. I preach at two churches every Sunday and after the final service, having given my all in the sermon, I am exhausted.

  • Mark James says on

    Pastor, we just aren’t being fed. (Heard by pastor’s to mean, “My attitude stinks toward you but I would rather blame it on you than take responsibility for it myself.

  • Bo Brown says on

    When you are Bi-vocational and some days “Oh, you are part time “

  • In today’s clergy-class elitist church-ianity culture, many of those “painful sentences” are warranted.

  • Ken Cummins says on

    I posted these comments on my personal FB page thinking it would be understood for the intent they are written. Last night, (Wednesday) I had thought I had a contagious disease. The “folks” were extremely cold and different toward me. Perhaps I have unearthed some things that need to be worked through. I have heard all of these in my years of service.

    • You do realize that by sharing this, that you told people who trust you with guiding them through the things of God, and to share with you some of their most private struggles, that you think that it’s funny to complain and poke fun at them online.

  • Here’s another good one: “My needs aren’t being met.” Didn’t Jesus command us to deny ourselves?

  • Indiana Pastor says on

    I learned a great bit of wisdom twenty years ago:
    “Every critic can be a teacher…they will either teach you something about YOU, or they will teach you something about THEM. Either way, it is probably something you should know.”

    I try not to take criticism too seriously. After all, if we were all perfect, we wouldn’t need Christ or the church. But we are what we are and God still manages to love us.

    However, sometimes someone’s statements are particularly baffling or hurtful. Here are a few of mine.

    1) Pastor, we know that you simply download your sermons from the internet because my spouse Googled your message theme from last week and found another pastor’s message with the same outline.”

    (Two comments came to mind….a] Imagine that! Two pastors prayerfully studying the same passage of scripture thinking it said the same thing! B] Even if I HAD borrowed someone else’s outline, don’t you think I would have done so because I thought it was GOOD and modified it to match my own style, the needs of the congregation, and what I sensed the Holy Spirit was nudging me towards? Besides, an outline is not a sermon. There are a lot of word in between the major points of an outline.)……. I resisted the temptation to spout off. But what this and other behavior taught me was that these folks were actively searching for opportunities to complain, and it seemed that they were convinced of their spiritual superiority to other members and leaders in the church.

    2). One member regularly made the point of telling me about his favorite pastor when they lived in another state, and how he ran worship, how he preached and led Bible study, and that he really wished that I would do it that way. He would then describe a pastor (who, to me, seemed a bit anal retentive) who “would preach for six weeks on a single passage from the Bible and help us suck all the marrow out of each word and phrase.”

    (Response….. I am glad that learned so much for your former pastor. And I appreciate your love and support for him. However, that isn’t my best style of preaching. I must preach and teach in the way that I feel God leading me. I hope that you plan to give equal support and affection to your current and future pastors.”). What I wanted to say, however was: “Beware. Those who assume that they are more spiritually mature than others just because they have learned more Biblical trivia than others can easily fall victim to pride, arrogance, dissension, and self-righteousness. Besides, I’d you are so enthralled with your former pastor that feel the need to rub my nose in his droppings, why don’t you move back and join his church?”

    And then I remember that I am supposed to be a Christian…..and shut up.

  • First, to Larry Robertson regarding the lack of toilet paper crisis. I had the exact same thing happen as I was processing in with the choir. Glad I’m not the only one.

    This may have been in one of the comments, but one that struck fear in my heart over the years, is, “I have a concern that I want to speak to you in love about….”. The issue could be me or someone they disagree with.

    One classic was just as I was beginning to process in to begin a funeral with a packed church, a lady came up to me and said, “I just wanted you to know that last Sunday, when you were serving communion, I got the bread but you passed me with the cup (we used individual cups). I just thought you should know.” It wasn’t intentional. Guess where my focus was during the funeral?

  • Wayne Staten says on

    True Story, My first senior pastorate. On the first Sunday of my new church, one of my deacons approachs the pulpit only to say ” We got us a new pastor now and we’re not going to agree with him ” My wife, sitting in the pew said ” I wished I’d had a camera to take a picture of you with the expression you had on your face ” It was the beginning of the worst two years of my life. Yes I lasted two years.

  • Greg Crofford says on

    Will there be a follow-up from the layperson’s point-of-view? That things do pastors say that rankle church attenders?

    P.S. — I’m a missionary, just wanting to see the shoe on the other foot…

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