Few people are truly aware of the constant requests, complaints, and criticisms pastors and other church leaders receive. I must admit, however, I was surprised when I asked church leaders on Twitter to share some of the more unusual comments they have received. I was first surprised at how many responded. But I was most surprised at the really strange things people tell pastors and other church leaders.
Many of the comments related to using the Bible too much or to being too evangelistic. I should make those a blog post by themselves.
I narrowed my selection to twenty-five, but it could have been much higher. I left off many great comments to keep this post manageable. I’ve only made minor wording changes to some of these. For the most part, I received these quotes just as you are seeing them. The parenthetical words after each comment represent my off-the-cuff commentary.
- “We need a small group for cat lovers.” (I guess they could serve Meow Mix as a snack.)
- “You need to change your voice.” (Yes ma’am. I’ll try to have that done by next week.)
- “Our expensive coffee is attracting too many hipsters.” (Yep. You don’t want too many of those hipsters in your church.)
- “Preachers who don’t wear suits and ties aren’t saved. It’s in the Bible. (I should have known that’s what Jesus and Paul wore.)
- “Your socks are distracting.” (I understand. I’ll stop wearing socks.)
- “You shouldn’t make people leave the youth group after they graduate.” (It’s going to get really weird by the time they turn 70 years old.)
- “I don’t like the color of the towels in the women’s restroom.” (I don’t understand. They match the towels in the men’s restroom.)
- “We need to start attracting more normal people at church.” (So, you will be leaving the church, I presume.)
- “I developed cancer because you don’t preach from the KJV.” (Major medical announcement! New carcinogen discovered!)
- “Your wife never compliments me about my hair or dress.” (There could be a reason for that.)
- “Not enough people signed up for the church golf tournament. You have poor leadership skills.” (I’m so sorry. I expected more since most of the deacons play golf on Sunday morning)
- “I think you are trying to preach caffeineism.” (Probably Reformed theology with an extra kick.)
- “If Jesus sang from the red hymnals, why can’t we?” (I think you are mistaken. He sang from blue hymnals.)
- (To a pastor who married interracially). “You are living in sin. You shouldn’t be married to each other.” (That one is not worthy of commentary.)
- “I don’t like the brand of donuts in the foyer.” (It’s better than Meow Mix.)
- “You didn’t wrap the hot dogs in bacon for the church picnic.” (I understand that one. Bacon rules.)
- “You shouldn’t drink water when you preach.” (At least not simultaneously.)
- “The toilet paper is on the wrong way in the ladies restroom. It’s rolled under.” (My guess is that it is still functional.)
- “Why don’t you ever preach on Tim Tebow?” (Be patient. I will be preaching a six-week expository series on him in the fall.)
- “You don’t have ashtrays in the fellowship hall.” (Yes we do. They are right next to the spittoons for your chewing tobacco.)
- “Did you see me waving in the back of the worship center? You preached too long. It was time to eat!” (Who needs a clock when I have you?)
- “The eggs were not scrambled enough at the senior adult breakfast.” (We thought you could jump up and down after you ate them to finish the job.)
- “You don’t look at our side of the worship center enough when you preach.” (That’s because you are on that side.)
- “We are leaving the church because you have a red cross on the building. That’s the color of the devil.” (I understand. It’s in the same verse that describes his pitchfork and horns.)
- “Your sermon needed more calories.” (Okay. I’ll feed it one of those donuts in the foyer.)
Pastors and other church leaders must have great patience and strength. They are faced with these and many other comments and demands every day. I love these church leaders, and I thank God for them.
Share with me what comments you have received. And tell me what you think of the twenty-five comments that were shared with me.
Posted on August 19, 2015
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.
More from Thom
I had a pastor once who said he always hoped there would be a special place in hell for people who litter. His children were in the front pew as well as many others. I don’t know if there were any newcomers. People laughed uncomfortably. I talked to some people afterward and they thought it was hilarious. I don’t get it.
I got saved in a church where our awesome pastor said “the meanest people I ever met were in a Baptist church.” I still go to church, but I never forgot that comment.
This comment should probably go under the heading: “Excuses church members make why they don’t attend church…”
A recent visit to a member who hadn’t attended in years revealed that he (uncontrollably) passes gas too much and that he’s afraid that if that particular bodily function happened in church he would be embarrassed!
–Gives a whole new meaning to the “church pew!”
An individual can change quickly and seamlessly according to what circumstances demand, this flat and fluid way would seem utter lunacy. Democratize decision making power rather than decision making itself in the autocratic hierarchy. Is embracing self-management is too much to ask for?
15. “I don’t like the brand of donuts in the foyer.” (It’s better than Meow Mix.)
I’ll put meow mix in there, it would be doing them a favor too, think of all the gossip that could generate.
It’s hard to choose what to comment on, so many good ones 🙂
4. “Preachers who don’t wear suits and ties aren’t saved. It’s in the Bible. (I should have known that’s what Jesus and Paul wore.)
What does a suit actually do, beyond the warm clothing factor, does it project authority and validate conformity? This actually makes a lot of sense when its emotionally translated into common English. Actually a lot of these quotes do.
8. “We need to start attracting more normal people at church.”
That included the person making that statement. I doubt they thought that through. A fixed mindset, really that is the core theme with these points. The desire for the past, decades ago as that’s where things were set. It looks like an old crotchety crowd and they live to complain yet do nothing, it’s their life purpose.
13. “If Jesus sang from the red hymnals, why can’t we?” -stuck in the past
14. (To a pastor who married inter-racially). “You are living in sin. You shouldn’t be married to each other.” -stuck in the past, jealous
9. “I developed cancer because you don’t preach from the KJV.” -stuck in the past, blame
20. “You don’t have ashtrays in the fellowship hall.” -stuck in the past
— And more—
Yes a fixed mindset, almost every point.
After having a liturgical dance during worship, one woman clearly didn’t get it and didn’t appreciate it. She complained, bitterly, asking, “what’s next? Stripper poles?”
For #14 (the inter-racial marriage) maybe you could give an answer saying that there is no such thing as interracial marriage because we are all part of one race, the human race. The Bible says we are all descendants of Adam and Noah. Ken Ham on the Answers in Genesis website has written at least one article on this topic.
I think 25 is pretty legitimate. We have way to much shallow preaching in the church today….”What people’s itching ears want to hear”
I was meeting with a dad whose daughter was making some really bad decisions. I said, so you are blaming me for your daughters bad decisions?” His reply, “I have to point the finger somewhere.”
This isn’t to a pastor, his or her spouse or even one of their kids. This was said about me from another congregant to my (horrified and insulted) mother: “She must have done something TERRIBLE as a child for God to punish her like this.” At the time I was going through kidney failure and was roughly 22. I never did drugs, never drank, never smoked. Yep. I don’t think the vacuous comments are only for the staff or family members thereof. People in church (being, after all, people) can be ignorant, silly, elderberry-smelling hamsters who have no business opening their mouths other than to eat.