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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  • Rev. Barbara Pilozow says on

    After worship one Sunday a gentleman shook my hand and said,
    “You probably noticed I left for part of the sermon. I was having a demonic event. I expect you would know all about those.”

  • I’ve forgotten far more negative and positive comments than I remember. One that comes to mind was the church member who asked me “Does the Conference send you sermons to preach?”

    One very nice comment came from a member who said “It is very nice to hear sermons from the Bible once again. All we heard before you came was out of the newspaper, not from the Bible.”

  • You mentioned a number of cat references, but what about the dog lovers? They want to know why Fido can’t sit in the sanctuary with them, let alone the fact that you don’t have a dog dish in the foyer for them to get a lap of water? Didn’t Lazarus help dogs out in the Bible?

    • I read a story about this new pastor who was getting ready to preach his first sermon to his congregation, and he noticed an elderly man had a dog with him. The pastor threw a fit and told the man to remove that dog from the church immediately. The elderly man obeyed. After the service several deacons confronted the pastor. They said, “Why did you do that? That man is one of our most generous contributors! He’s been bringing his dog to church for years, and he’s never hurt anything. You go and apologize to him!”

      The pastor felt ashamed, so he went to the dog’s owner and apologized. The old man said, “That’s okay, preacher; it’s just as well. I wouldn’t have wanted my dog to hear such a terrible sermon!”

  • One sweet lady told me that I should not mention the bathroom from the pulpit. I smiled at her and said, “Well, I glad I did not call it the crapper!” She laghed and I think got my point.

  • Jeff Pugh says on

    one of my favourites as a pastor in a mountain range Baptist church was when I suggested we put carpet on the floorboards to add a little comfort in the freezing winter only to be told we couldn’t because in Russia they still baptise people under the ice. Wish those Ruskies would stop that foolin so we could put our kids back down on the floor!

  • I had a church member get mad at me because I didn’t call him on the phone and tell him my wife had been diagnosed with cancer. I said, “Well, I announced it in church.” That happened to be during one of his several month long pouting sessions so he hadn’t been in a while.

    She’s doing great by the way. Still some surgery land procedures left to go. It’s been a long road.

  • Michaele says on

    Thank you for your blog and your humor! One of the best weapons we have as Christians is humor, especially when we encounter the ridiculous in the Church. I found this blog after doing some research on bullying in the Church. I have encountered bullies not only in my Church, but in the workplace as well, which leads me to believe that they are everywhere and there really is no escaping them. As a Christian, I make sense of it by remembering that Jesus dealt with persecution, ignorance, and pettiness too. We are called to be like Him, but we must pray for the discernment to behave like Him in the face of the hurtful behavior of others. Christian women like myself have sometimes been schooled to believe that this means “turning the other cheek” when we are mistreated. In fact, we should do the opposite, but only after prayer, consultation with a trusted spiritual advisor, and considerable reflection. We need to honor ourselves more and forgiveness of others does not mean allowing them to mistreat us. Being a follower of Christ requires boldness. We are called to fight injustice, both inside and outside of the Church.

  • Being from the far North I was brought up in a culture where men do not hug anyone but their wives and children. In my first ministry position as an associate I had been there for over a year when the new Senior Minister came on board. He was a hugger. When we were out calling on an elderly couple he gave them big hugs and when I went to shake the lady’s hand she pulled me firmly down to where she was sitting and gave me a crushing bear hug as I floundered. A year later when I was leaving to another church, in my farewell sermon I recounted the event, then jumped down off the stage and ran to the back and gave her a big hug. Her refusal to be accommodating to my personal space helped me in the the next 15 years of ministry.

  • I appreciate all these stories, some that are simply funny and some that reveal a lot of pain. I’ve wondered, though, if another list might be appropriate – a list of the funny, unfortunate, or even hurtful things we as clergy have said to parishoners. These can be things said from the pulpit, or in conversations with church members. In other words, while parishioners can sometimes be mistaken in what they say, we in the clergy can do the same. So as we point out the speck in someone else’s eye, can we admit there may be a log in our own?

    (I’ve only read half of the comments, so if I missed someone else offering this suggestion, I apologize.)

    I’ll give an example from my own experience. I was in my last year of seminary, and was a guest speaker at a church while the senior pastor was on vacation. I was preaching about our need to know our identity in Christ, and used an illustration in which an adopted child was looking for his “real” parents. After the service, a man came up to me and told me that their were a number of families in the congregation who had adopted children. The parents in those families were the “real” parents! He said my use of the phrase had possibly caused some unnecessary pain, and in the future I would be better off referring to “biological” parents instead. Ouch!

    I appreciated that this man came directly to me with his comment, and spoke firmly but also with graciousness.

  • My father-in-law used to say, in situations like this, “That’s not edifying.” How does anything here build up the body of believers?

    2 Corinthians 12:20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances

    This seems to be alive and well in our churches today. Sigh.

  • All reasons and many more that after 22 years in the pastorate, I have stepped away.

  • I’m a layperson in a church that is very small, mostly elderly, and at this stage only had one attending child under the age of 16. I was in my early 20s (the only church member between 20 and 40 years old), a full time uni student, involved in uni ministry, worked part time, was a leader in a youth group at a neighbouring church (which was a 6+hr/week commitment), and led music (singlehandedly) for at least 2-3 Sunday services a month. After church one day, an elderly gentleman came up to me…

    “Why don’t you start a children’s ministry at this church?”

    “We don’t have any children”

    “Back in the day I went doorknocking with the pastor of the church I was at and we got 17 children to come. Having no children is no excuse.”

    “I already lead a youth group and I am already very busy”

    “You’re young and active, it’s obvious. You need to start a children’s ministry.”

    The same gentleman, several months later…

    “Thank you for all you do for us and I really appreciate your playing every week, but where do you find all this awful music? I love young people and I really want young people to join our church, but I simply can’t abide their music.”

    . . .

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