Three Sentences Pastors Hate to Hear

October 28, 2019

By Thom S. Rainer

The most common place pastors hear one of these three sentences is right before they preach or right after they preach. Of course, the prayerful focus on their message is detoured and distracted immediately.

Frankly, I don’t see how most pastors make it to their sermons when they have been blasted by one of these bombs right before they preach. While three sentences are certainly not an exhaustive list, these are the three I hear most often. To this day, I cringe when pastors tell me they have been hit yet again with one of these three sentences:

  1. “People are saying . . .” This one is the coward’s special. Rather than speak for themselves, the critic hides behind the deceitful anonymity of other people. If you challenge the verbal sniper with the identity of the “people,” he or she typically responds smugly that they cannot say. They are not at liberty to reveal the identities of the dissidents. Anonymous criticism is not valid criticism. It should be dismissed along with the messenger.
  2. “I love you, but . . .” The only thing the critic wants the pastor to hear is the verbiage after “but.” The only thing the pastor hears is the verbiage after “but.” The critic tries to couch his or her concerns from a posture of love and concern. Baloney! This sentence is similar to the secular phrase from one person dating to the other: “I want to be friends.” There is no love in the statement to the pastor. There is no desire for friendship in the statement to the person in the dating relationship.
  3. “I’m just not getting fed here.” This infamous sentence has multiple possible translations. “You aren’t preaching the way I want you to preach.” “Your sermons are too long.” “You don’t preach from the book of Revelation enough.” “The podcast pastor is so much better.” “The church down the road is cooler.” Sometimes, the sentence is just a cover because the church member has a consumer mentality, and he or she has not received her preferences or has not gotten preferential treatment.

Most church members are good church members. Most church members really love their pastors. The few exceptions, though, are incredibly painful exceptions for pastors. Please prayerfully protect pastors from these verbal bombs, particularly right before they preach.

You will be demonstrating true love for your pastor when you do.

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99 Comments

  • I know of a church that has 4 men escort the pastor to and from the sanctuary each service so that his focus is not disturbed. I think more churches should implement this!

  • Hi Thom.

    Instead of hearing one of the three sentences, I received this card and a check last night (Wednesday, October 30) for Pastor Appreciation Month:

    “You’re Appreciated” (front of card)

    (Handwritten note inside) “For your constant encouraging spirit, preaching the Gospel in truth and in boldness, with (sound) doctrine, steadfastness in holiness, and — so much more.”

    “Love and prayers”,

    (signed by the member)
    ——————————————————————————————————————–

    If I ever had a doubt about moving to this pastorate in FL (from KS), this single note has re-affirmed my call here and my desire to serve the Lord and to always “preach the Word”.

    The neat thing here is that this person was the strongest “critic” in the pastoral search interview, grilling me the hardest, and who seemed to be lukewarm to my election as their pastor. They have become one of my strongest supporters.

    Feeling blessed in central Florida, with thanks to God.

    “Pastor Dean”

  • Hi Thom.

    Instead of hearing one of the three sentences, I received this card and a check last night (Wednesday, October 30) for Pastor Appreciation Month:

    “You’re Appreciated” (front of card)

    (Handwritten note inside) “For your constant encouraging spirit, preaching the Gospel in truth and in boldness, with (sound) doctrine, steadfastness in holiness, and — so much more.”

    “Love and prayers”,

    (signed by the member)
    ——————————————————————————————————————–

    If I ever had a doubt about moving to this pastorate in FL (from KS), this single note has re-affirmed my call here and my desire to serve the Lord and to always “preach the Word”.

    The neat thing here is that this person was the strongest “critic” in the pastoral search interview, grilling me the hardest, and who seemed to be lukewarm to my election as their pastor.

    Feeling blessed in central Florida,

    “Pastor Dean”

  • Hi Thom.

    Instead of hearing one of the three sentences, I received this card and a check last night (Wednesday, October 30) for Pastor Appreciation Month:

    “You’re Appreciated” (front of card)

    (Handwritten note inside) “For your constant encouraging spirit, preaching the Gospel in truth and in boldness, with (sound) doctrine, steadfastness in holiness, and — so much more.”

    “Love and prayers”,

    (signed by the member)
    ——————————————————————————————————————–

    If I ever had a doubt about moving to this pastorate in FL (from KS), this single note has re-affirmed my call here and my desire to serve the Lord and to always “preach the Word”.

    The neat thing here is that this person was the strongest “critic” in the pastoral search interview, grilling me the hardest, and who seemed to be lukewarm to my election as their pastor.

    Feeling blessed in central Florida,

    “Pastor Dean” (Rev. Dr. J. Dean McNamara)

  • Michael Haggard says on

    “You’re not doing X the way it is supposed to be done.”

  • Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. I have been blessed to serve a congregation for 35 years and I seldom hear any of these comments. When I do, I try to listen lovingly and if there is something to the comment, I will give it some attention if not, I ignore it and continue to do ministry among the people I love and who love me.

    Blessings to all.

  • My husband was approached one Sunday minutes before he was to preach. The man said, “There are about 40 of us who are going to pull our funding if the contemporary worship continues. We collectively give about $1,000 a week. We paid for this church, and we don’t want that music played here. “ My husband looked at the name. and said, “I think you are mistaken. You did not pay for this church, nor did I. Jesus Christ paid for this church 2,000 years ago with His own blood.” He preached a powerful sermon that day. It’s one of the reason I love him so.

    • How inspired! Bravo. I hope the man came to appreciate the contemporary worship service. I have heard of churches that have two services. One traditional and one contemporary. Feeds everyone’s soul.

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