Twenty-five Really Weird Things Said to Pastors and Other Church Leaders

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.

  1. “We need a small group for cat lovers.” (I guess they could serve Meow Mix as a snack.)
  2. “You need to change your voice.” (Yes ma’am. I’ll try to have that done by next week.)
  3. “Our expensive coffee is attracting too many hipsters.” (Yep. You don’t want too many of those hipsters in your church.)
  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.)
  5. “Your socks are distracting.” (I understand. I’ll stop wearing socks.)
  6. “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.)
  7. “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.)
  8. “We need to start attracting more normal people at church.” (So, you will be leaving the church, I presume.)
  9. “I developed cancer because you don’t preach from the KJV.” (Major medical announcement! New carcinogen discovered!)
  10. “Your wife never compliments me about my hair or dress.” (There could be a reason for that.)
  11. “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)
  12. “I think you are trying to preach caffeineism.” (Probably Reformed theology with an extra kick.)
  13. If Jesus sang from the red hymnals, why can’t we? (I think you are mistaken. He sang from blue hymnals.)
  14. (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.)
  15. “I don’t like the brand of donuts in the foyer.” (It’s better than Meow Mix.)
  16. “You didn’t wrap the hot dogs in bacon for the church picnic.” (I understand that one. Bacon rules.)
  17. “You shouldn’t drink water when you preach.” (At least not simultaneously.)
  18. “The toilet paper is on the wrong way in the ladies restroom. It’s rolled under.” (My guess is that it is still functional.)
  19. “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.)
  20. “You don’t have ashtrays in the fellowship hall.” (Yes we do. They are right next to the spittoons for your chewing tobacco.)
  21. “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?)
  22. “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.)
  23. “You don’t look at our side of the worship center enough when you preach.” (That’s because you are on that side.)
  24. “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.)
  25. “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.
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  • After a serious conversation about some family challenges a lady looked at me (her 31 year old rookie pastor) and said, “I just need some help, because I’m going through menopause and I need to talk through that.” I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten over that one :).

    • Thom Rainer says on

      You didn’t have that class at seminary?

      • Prechrchet says on

        Along those same lines, I had one little old lady describe her yeast infection to me. It was, shall we say, an unforgettable conversation.

      • Beth Wehner says on

        My daughter used to say when she was a teenager “I love old people, they’re so adorable.” Aren’t they though? 🙂

  • I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry when I read this list. I have been a pastor’s wife for just 3 years and have already heard enough comments like these to believe that they were actually said. One of my favorite weird comments said to my husband was, “I can’t pay attention to your sermon because your tie isn’t tied with a Windsor Knot.” I’d love for you to do a companion post on the top 25 really weird things said to pastor’s wives. I would have a few submissions.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      You got it. In a couple of weeks.

      • Teresa E says on

        Oh my… I have a story that will haunt me forever. I hope I catch when you ask for the companion comments.

      • Another category, but not funny, are things said to pastors’ kids. To my teens: “We’ve been waiting for your dad to realize he needed to lose weight” (after he had an arterial dissection, causing a heart attack); “It ‘s a good thing you quit that sport, your parents can’t afford it”; “Tell your mother to do something about those kids running around during coffee hour” (not my children, and very sweet kids).

      • As you compile that list, please be mindful that there are denominations for which women are Ordained clergy and have pastor husbands. Perhaps just noting pastor spouses might be sufficient to allow some of your readership feel more welcome. Pastor husbands have stories to share as well.

      • Be mindful… I think he knows that. How about be mindful that the Internet doesn’t need people constantly policing people’s ideas for their political correctness. Why did the person say “pastors wives”? Because it’s the most common situation.

      • So now reality is politically correct? Interesting world you live in. Maybe someday you’d like to join the rest of us in the real world.

      • Dr. Rainer is a Southern Baptist, as I am, and we don’t believe it’s scriptural for women to serve as pastors. You are free to disagree with Dr. Rainer on that point, but is it too much to ask that you respect his views? This is his blog, not yours.

      • So since you don’t believe women should be clergy, on their experiences and those of their husbands are not valid? (Interesting in itself because the Southern Baptist denomination did ordain women prior to the mid 1980s. Did Scripture change or the church’s politics?) In any case, is it not too much to ask that you open yourself to the possibility that these people are your sisters and brothers in Christ or that your view of Scripture maybe interfering with your ability to be be in ministry with and to these people? Inviting them to shut up its not terribly Christlike. Of that much, I am “scripturally” certain.

      • I think there could be two different lists: one for pastors’ wives and one for pastors’ husband. There are probably some unique comments in both categories!

      • As a male clergy spouse, last week a teen came up to me and asked if I was the pastor’s wife after the service. I don’t think it was malicious, just an absent minded comment.

      • Now that’s funny! 🙂

    • I had somebody come up to my wife after we had found out she was pregnant and had only told a few family and friends because we wanted to wait as her family has had trouble with miscarriages in the past. I guess a family member let it slip and somebody in the church heard about it then went and told everybody in the church and pretty much told me and my wife “how dare you to hide something like this from us you have no right to not have told all of us first”

      • A similar thing happened to us…we, in fact, did have a miscarriage and a church member was vocal (behind our backs, of course) about how mad she was that she didn’t know we were pregnant. End result…she never approached us. It’s a shame the things we do to each other in the church.

      • Ken in Indiana says on

        When we were in grief due to several miscarriages and extended infertility, my wife left the choir loft one Sunday because she couldn’t maintain the smile any more.

        In the back room, crying, she shared her grief with another woman in the church, who said, “Maybe you just need to learn to suffer in silence.” Which was received as “I am tired of hearing about your struggles, get over it and shut up.”

      • Almost the same exact comment to my wife after our still birth.

    • DG Braun says on

      Yup the church is essentially bull$#!+.

      • Please find someplace else to air your anti-Christian hatred.

      • To be fair, frustration with the church doesn’t necessarily translate as anti-christian. By those standards everyone in this comment thread is guilty of being anti-christian. As a pastor, I can say the heart of what he said resonates with my frustration sometimes, maybe not the words, but the frustrated emotions. If it weren’t for Christ, I would have quit the ministry a long time ago because as you can see evidenced through this thread, the church can be everything but loving and gracious sometimes. The church does more harm to the gospel sometimes than it does help. Most people who reject Christianity do so from experiences with the church and not from bad experiences with God. Therfore, I want to encourage you to leave space for dialogue with someone who clearly has negative experience of the church rather than dismissing them from the conversation altogether.

    • Anna Anderson says on

      Spouse (some pastors have husbands). To my husband: You have to bake a cake for the potluck. That’s your role.

  • Dave Miller says on

    C’mon. If a church has its toilet paper rolling under instead if over the top, the pastor deserves a rebuke.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      You’re right, Dave. Please forgive me.

    • If a church has its toilet paper rolling under instead of over the top, it probably has a church cat.

      • Ken in Indiana says on

        Didn’t you read Psalm 23?
        Thou anointest my HEAD with oil,
        My toilet paper runneth OVER….

      • What translation is that? Certainly not LOLCat.

        I was fully expecting Dave to respond that if a church has a cat, the pastor also deserves rebuke.

      • Remember the movie “All Dogs Go to Heaven”? Notice how it didn’t mention anything about cats? Everyone knows all cats go to the other place.

      • NotUrTypicalRev says on

        Our church has church guinea pigs. Oreo and Pork Chop say “hello”

    • The following cat comments are cat lady approved. You guys are cracking me up.

      But seriously, we used to have complaints about the toilet paper going under in the women’s restroom, to which our facility manager had an excellent response. Most young children are taken to the restroom by their mothers. Many young children will spin the toilet paper roll, dumping paper all over the floor. We are saving untold amounts of your financial giving by having the toilet paper in the women’s restroom roll under.

  • I was approached after one of our worship services with the following statement:

    “The music is TOO LOUD, I CAN’T hear it.”

    • Thom Rainer says on

      I’m sorry. Did you say something?

      • Jim Lynch says on

        At least be thankful that there was any toilet paper there. I’ve heard, as I was processing down the aisle, “There’s no TP n the men’s room!” Um, let me stop the service and I will take care of that.

  • Following a recent message on forgiveness, a woman who attended the service approached me very aggressively stating, “After hearing your sermon I wanted to come up and punch you in the face!” Thankfully she was kidding, and clearly under conviction about those she needed to forgive.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Yep. A woman said that to me one time. But she wasn’t kidding.

      • That reminded me of the time many years ago in my first pastorate when a deacon said to me, “You want to take it outside? We’ll take it outside.” Meaning he wanted to fight me. I declined, not so much because it was the Christian thing to do, but because I was afraid of getting beat up.

      • Bob Ierien says on

        Let him go out first, then lock and bar the door behind him.

      • Faye Germano says on

        Yes, I understand that. I’ve known of fist fights in the parking lot.

  • Christian says on

    One of our senior women lived in my neighborhood when I was a youth pastor. We often chatted by the mailbox as she was on her daily walk. One day she told me the “If the King James Version was good enough for Peter and Paul, its good enough for me.” She was serious as a heart attack too!

  • Mark Williams says on

    When we renovated our stage. a lady came to me and said “I don’t think I can worship in a sanctuary that doesn’t have an organ in it”… our organist died 7 years earlier, and no one has played it since….

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Hezekiah 4:9: Play the harp. Play the lyre. Play the tambourine. Play the electric organ.

      • I find it a little silly that some folk still believe that drums “are from the devil”

        I guess we’re all suppose to worship like the Jackson 5. All vocals with handheld instruments.

      • Pastor George says on

        I had a congregant from our traditional service get upset that we didn’t remove the drum kit after the modern service. He said “There are drums on the stage now. What’s next the Rocketts dancing across during worship?”
        My reply was “We are putting together a worship dance team.” 😀

      • Pastor Chad says on

        When I was serving as a worship pastor (and drummer), I had someone approach me and tell me that, while it was fine that we had drums, could we “please just play them silently in the background.” That became one of the most commonly used phrases amongst my worship teams from that point forward.

      • John Wallace says on

        You do realize that God looked down and say how ornery the Baptists were and decided to put into their hearts that drums were of they devil because he just couldn’t trust these people with sticks.

      • That sounds sectist to me.

  • A friend of mine had this comment from a deacon in a business meeting: “I’m tired of all these suppository sermons you preach. I actually had to go buy a book and study something I wanted to learn about.”

  • Mary Ellen says on

    I was invited to speak at a church’s women’s retreat. After the retreat was over, a sweet lady came to chat with me – her comment? “This was wonderful. I’m so glad the other speaker canceled.” Humility reminder. LOL.

  • When my husband was in an out-of-town hospital receiving chemotherapy treatments for leukemia, he was told that he could consider that his vacation.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      That is cruel. Shame on them.

    • Bill Petty says on

      That’s just not right…

    • That would be time to start looking for another church. I have little patience for churches that have more compassion than that.

    • My wife is a secretary for a Baptist church, and the same was done to her when she in the hospital and gave birth to our son. The vacation time was unpaid as well.

      • I work as a church secretary, too. My “maternity leave” was my vacation time.

      • In all fairness, that’s not a church problem, that’s a U.S. problem. We do not have maternity leave in this country, so people have to use their paid and sick time for it. If they don’t have enough paid time accrued, they just don’t get paid.

        This is why so many women return to work 2 weeks after the baby is born–they cannot afford to be a mother.

      • Becky Powers says on

        I would have to disagree that it is not a church problem…the church is called out to be DIFFERENT. That’s why it always surprises me, even though it shouldn’t, when a church acts like a secular business and shows little or no compassion, appreciation or loyalty to its staff.

    • Wow! That takes a lot of gall to treat someone like that. I’m guessing if it was their family member or themselves they would have been extremely hurt to have been treated like that. Violet

    • When my Dad was immensely ill our pastor came in and asked him how many bricks he owned in the hospital.. I turned around and told hime “He’s giving them away to an interested party.” He Shut Up. My Dad was devastated.

    • I have a friend who was told the same thing when she went home after her father died.

    • Faye Germano says on

      We were in a revival, my husband was the pastor, and a lady member told my husband that the visiting preacher’s pants were too tight. (He had on a suit). She could see his “package.”……….My statement for her was that she should not have been looking there in the first place.

  • Lynn Deitz says on

    I liked your answer to # 15 best. Thanks Pastor Larry.

  • During my few years as preaching minister, I had some real winning comments hurled at me, too. One widow was particularly rich with advice. One day she came into my office, threw two pairs of khakis at me, and exclaimed “Here! Wrinkle-free pants!” (For Sunday evenings of course.) This was followed by wardrobe tips on how to look more presentable preaching.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Nothing like a widow giving you some pants.

    • Disaskalos says on

      Think about this. Don’t let your pants distract from the most important part of your ministry–conveying the Word of God. While trying to connect with younger people, respect the older ones, too.
      And, did she –really– throw the khakis at you?

      • Disaskalos, are you serious? Kevin didn’t say he disrespected her, in fact, I would be certain he didn’t. How do you manage to keep your khakis wrinkle free all day when fulfilling the demands of preaching? I have never been able to and that’s with my wife ironing and starching them. No disrespect to you intended but please think about what you are saying here. The last thing a preacher needs is more critics. That’s kind of what this blog post was about. God bless!

      • “Dickies” Khaki pants stay wrinkle free! I’ve been wearing the same pairs of Dickies for almost twenty years!

      • Aaron Sperry says on

        If you’ve had them on for 20 years, perhaps that’s why they’re wrinkle free!!! 🙂

      • If wrinkled khakis are the problem, you should start preaching in jeans or athletic shorts…no wrinkles there!

      • If, his pants are wrinkled, just think of it as he is on his knees more often, in prayer, on his feet in service. Stiff wrinkle free pants do not convey that Jesus loves you and has been sent to save you from your sins. Let’s focus on the heart and the service not the pants. But if you want to get particular about it, I’d hope my pastors pants had wrinkles. It meant he was too busy serving and praying with his church and people to worry about something as trivial as the amount of starch in his pants.

    • Paul Graybeal says on

      While at the first church I served, during the annual Thanksgiving dinner, my family and I were invited to sit at a table by another couple. So, we accepted the invitation. My wife and I made our way through the serving line, and made our to the table. I sat my plate of food down, and began to slide the chair out so I could sit, when one of the more “loving” members of the church grabbed my arm, and informed me there was no room at the table for me and my family. So, my family and I ended up eating our first Thanksgiving meal with this congregation in the parking lot.

      • Bless you! How long did you serve there?! That happened to my son and me at a new church on Wednesday night “fellowship” supper. An older couple invited us to sit with them. A lady grabbed the chair and said they had no room. She still sits in that spot and in “her” pew on Sundays. Bless her.

      • Wow! That’s rough. I pretty sure I would have gotten in my car and taken my family home. Probably not the best solution, but if I’m honest…

    • I use the Revised Common Lectionary most often throughout the year. I recently heard the comment that I need to preach out of The Bible more often.

      • Peggy Yingst says on

        …and I’ve been told I preach from the Bible too much. “We don’t need Bible Study!”

      • anthony alvetro says on

        actually most need to preach out the bible more often. there is a need for pastors to preach out the bible more and those who say they preach too much from the bible arent interested in truth they basically want a community center or fun center. they just want to go somewhere and go through the motions to get rid of their guilt. thats the pastor’s job to put forth god’s word and think they should only preach out of the bible or speaking on general topics and speak on what the bible says about it or what the bible says to correct it.
        churches are suppose to be a place of worship and a place for the hearing of the word of god. pastors should only yield to the bible and god and not on people’s wishes on not hearing the bible.
        preach god’s word and nothing else. if they dont like it,then tough beans

    • One lady who made up viscous stories about me and generally tried to make life difficult for me eventually become very close to me. On a routine check-up she learn she had an abdominal tumor. I went to pray with her and her entire attitude toward me changed. I prayed with her before before he surgery. I was with her and her family when her children made the decision to take her off life support. I was with her when she breathed her last. I think she took a lot of comfort from my presence. During that time I learned she carried a lot of pain. I also learned hurt people hurt people.

      • Dave Morrell says on

        Viscous – or vicious? Great story & witness!

      • Jim Swedenburg says on

        Now that you mention it, most lies and rumors are viscous: “having a thick, sticky consistency between solid and liquid”

        Just saying…

      • Mitzi Manning says on

        “…hurt people hurt people…” is one of the most profound things a minister can learn. Thanks for sharing that.

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