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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  • You should wear suits. Also, you shouldn’t have a youth group in the first place.

    And there’s a really good reason for the both of those. On youth groups, see

  • I planted a church in the heart of Schenectady, NY, an urban city and have been on mission there for three years now. Although I am limited in how many years I have been in the pulpit, I can relate to many of the bizarre things that people have said here. I even have a few more to add:

    “I love the logo of your church. I am thinking about getting it tattooed on me…” ~ Talk about dedication and free advertising… 🙁

    “Your church logo looks like a biker gang’s.” ~ Really?!? Okay…(Judge for yourself. It’s on our webpage at

    “Why don’t we serve wine for communion? That is Biblical…” ~ How about because there are people who attend who are recovering from alcoholism…

    “Why do we serve communion EVERY Sunday?” ~ One of my personal favorites. I was actually asked this while we were serving communion one Sunday. Without missing a beat, I said, “Because we can’t get together every day, otherwise we’d do it daily.” 🙂

    “Your church is too tech orientated.” ~ We stream our services live and we archive them to YouTube. We project on a big screen the words to the worship songs and to the Scripture verses. I’m not sure what you mean. lol

    “I’ve been noticing that people are coming on one Sunday and we don’t see them for a long time, if at all again.” ~ Because people are people. Not everyone is in the same place with their walk with Christ.

    “Where’s my hymns?” ~ The craziest thing I ever had a congregant say to me. This happened after the church we first attended had their worship leader step down after playing there for over 10 years and playing a traditional worship played on the organ with a hymn or two played on the upright piano. I was asked to lead worship and I only felt comfortable playing on the electric keyboard. A drummer friend of mine joined me and we both sang the songs that we were familiar with at the time. I was 30 and my friend was 17. We played contemporary worship. After the organ was removed and the new style of worship began, this lady waited a Sunday or two before she approached me during the Passing of the Peace of Christ of all times. She shook my hand and said, “Where’s my hymns?” I was dumfounded. So I just kept greeting people and eventually hopped back up on stage and continued leading worship. The next week while we were passing the peace of Christ again, she shook my hand and asked the very same thing. This time I responded. Now keep in mind that I wasn’t much more than a baby Christian at the time. I looked back at her and asked her a question in response. I said, “What is the definition of a hymn?” She looked at me puzzled. I went on, “It’s a song of praise to our God. Last time I checked, every song that I pick for Sunday worship is a hymn. Furthermore, we are in the middle of worshipping God, yes, passing the peace of Christ is a part of worship. I work Monday through Friday and after 3pm, I’d love to be able to answer your questions and concerns. Until then, please don’t interrupt service. Have a blessed day!” With that, I ran back onto stage and continued worshipping. But I could not believe that she asked that. I get it now, I’ve had some years to understand that people shouldn’t change the style of worship or make any other drastic changes overnight. The worship format was just one of many things that were changing all at once and nobody thought that it might upset people that had been attending there longer than I had been alive. They either didn’t think or they just didn’t care; either attitude is not okay. We learn from others’ mistakes as well as our own in life. We must otherwise what are we doing?

    These were just a few that I encountered over the last 12 years or so. I’ve got quite a collection of bizarre things that I have encountered with people but that is another story for another time. Happy to contribute. Loved the article! Be blessed!

  • “Pastors receive too much criticism.” I’m sure that’s a bummer but I can’t say I feel sorry for you. You put yourself in this position where you are acting as a spiritual authority. You have incredible power. People think that the words you say, are coming from God. You ask people for a significant part of their salaries. You feed people their political and social opinions, based on YOUR interpretation of a really old book that your audience reveres. You have the power to manipulate, influence, deceive, impart feelings of guilt and shame and joy and ecstasy, and people are hanging off every word. It’s a GOOD thing if more and more people question you, because you are just 1 human in a position of a crazy amount of influence.

    • Question, yes. Just flat out be rude, no and that is what many of these stories are about: rudeness. Yes, pastors should never be above critique, but they also should not have to deal with many of the things on this page.

  • We needed to repair our church’s roof in spots, so my husband did so. The roof was covered in red shingles; however the new shingles were grey. We had a lady ask him to climb back up there and spray paint the grey ones red so they’d match the rest of the roof. I laughed, but she was serious. Another lady said we needed to get rid of the fake flowers, because she knows of people who told her that’s why they didn’t come to our church.

  • GP Gallant says on

    My all time favorite “We’re all going to hell! Praise Jesus!”

  • Paul Willey says on

    At my last church I was told that if I dressed better we would get more rich people to attend.

  • I have been doing children’s outreach for 16 years, going out to where the kids are in the neighborhoods to do Bible Clubs and then bringing the kids to church. In 2003, we had up to 40 kids coming each week. They were great and they were hungry to know Jesus.
    But there were grumblers. I had a lady tell me that because my kids (I call them mine because they are my flock and special to me)… that because my kids come, her family can’t connect with other churched families; and because my kids don’t know as much as her kids, the teachers have to teach what her kids already know so they’re bored. Sadly the church leadership listened to her and in 2005, I was told that my kids couldn’t come to VBS at the church and then that I couldn’t bring them to the Wednesday night program AND that I couldn’t add any new kids from the Neighborhood Bible Clubs. Then the number of my kids kept dropping in the following years, so one pastor told me I had too many volunteers, and I had to stop giving the kids breakfast.
    This same pastor, while I was Interim Children’s Director, told me not to bother planning a Bible class for the church kids during their annual service at the park, because the city has a $3 million play structure the kids should take advantage of. I replied that the play structure will burn one day, but the kids are eternal and I only have a short time to share with them the Way to eternal life and I wasn’t going to waste it babysitting them on a piece of wood. So I got my Bible Club setup out and that’s what we did.
    Oh, and the family who didn’t want my kids to come to church, they stopped coming shortly after shooting my ministry in the foot. In fact, the church has lost over half its numbers as there have been a lot of hurts over the past decade.
    I’m still there, even though an interim pastor told me that people didn’t want to have anything to do with ministries my mom and I were involved in (extremely damaging thing to say, and quite possibly untrue as it was found out later he often said that people said things they hadn’t).
    God reminded me when I wanted to give up on my church that He hasn’t given up on me. So I will persevere doing what I know He wants me to do: reach children for Jesus!

  • I have never been a pastor, but I did here a comment that sounds like one of these. My church has a block party every year and has free games and free food for the community. One year it was wrapping up, and I was one of a few people helping serve hot dogs to the other workers. One of the men who helped looked at his hot dog and said, “These are burnt. They shouldn’t a’ let the women cook ’em. They should a’ let the men do the grillin’ and kept the women in the kitchen where they belong.” I do not know what Thom Rainer’s comment would be, but mine would be (While you’re at it, why don’t you tell your wife about that.)

  • Brian G. says on

    Strangest things I’ve ever heard….
    1. the Holy Spirit stops working at noon. (they were serious)
    2. We’re forgetting the importance of the hymnal when we don’t stop and announce the hymn number before each song
    3. Only the red words are truly inspired by God, right?

  • Some years ago, I was invited to preach in a church six months after a previous visit. One lady said to me, “I really enjoyed your message last time. Remind me what it was you spoke about”.

    Another couple of comments (in my own church, this time) made me think. Following the Bible Study, one lady said to me “you know, I find I understand the studies much better when Alan teaches”. Ouch. Fortunately, the following week someone else said “you know, I find I understand the studies much better when you teach”. I found that a helpful reminder of the advantages of shared ministry.

  • Kit Demmocks says on

    I just got back from a week long intensive block course to ” How was your holiday?” The other really fun one recently was ” I know you insist on teaching from Scripture each week, but surely teenagers get bored by that?” The facepalm was real.

  • Ben There says on

    I’ve read the threads to this post, and it has opened a lot of old wounds for a lot of people including me. I’ve never been a pastor, but I’ve lead a large (30+ member) Sunday School class.

    I’ve tried to study and live by God’s word for over 25 years. Most of you know that Jesus told the disciples that the world hated Him and they weren’t going to be real fond of His followers either. So I expected enemy fire but I had no idea of the amount of “friendly fire” I would face.

    I’m a flawed person who attempts to follow the Perfect God and Perfect Savior and to live by the Perfect Word. Most of the time I think God put 1 John 1:9 in the Bible just for me. The line between funny and stupid can be a thin one, and the distance between stupid and hurtful is probably not more than the width of a human hair.

    I was hurt may be not as much as most of the respondents to the post, but enough to turn my back on a gift that God had given me to go and lick my wounds. God in His mercy gave me the opportunity to teach again and I’ve taken it.
    I still hear the stupid hurtful remarks. A lot of people seem to have the “gift” of discouragement. The question I ask myself is “Why do I do this?” It can be a multiple choice question.

    a.) Do I do it to be loved? Everybody wants to be loved. I do enjoy the occasional lesson that I hit out of the park where the class members rush the podium after the amen to tell me what a great job I did.

    b.) Do I do it because I’ve experienced God’s grace and I want to show my love for Him by following Him?

    I like answer b better.

    I remember Peter’s words that if we suffer out of conscious toward God, we find favor with Him. I remember Paul’s last letter to Timothy where he talks about all of the people who had either dealt treacherously with him or deserted him and conclude that I don’t have it so bad.

    For those of you who have been hurt and still hurt, I pray that Jesus will heal those hurts and that you would find it in your heart to forgive those who have hurt you and feel the release that forgiveness can bring.

    I thank you for the opportunity to reply to the post. Writing this has given me an opportunity to heal. If I’ve offended anyone by sounding “preachy” I ask for your forgiveness

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