Twenty Five Silly Things Church Members Fight Over

It began as an innocuous Twitter survey. But then it blew up.

A lot of church members and leaders were eager to share about fights, schisms, and conflicts in their congregations. They were likewise eager to point out the absurdity of these issues. There were the ones we’ve heard often: temperature in the worship center, color of carpet, order of worship, and color of walls.

The fights shown below, however, are a bit unusual. Indeed, most of them are downright absurd. I picked 25 of my “favorites.” They are listed in no particular order. The parenthetical commentary is my own.

  1. Argument over the appropriate length of the worship pastor’s beard (I think I saw a verse in Scripture that indicated it is to be no more than 1.5 inches longer than the pastor’s beard.).
  2. Fight over whether or not to build a children’s playground or to use the land for a cemetery (I’m dying to know the resolution of this one.).
  3. A deacon accusing another deacon of sending an anonymous letter, and deciding to settle the matter in the parking lot (The church could have sold tickets to this event and raised a lot of money.).
  4. A church dispute of whether or not to install restroom stall dividers in the women’s restroom (I’m calling unfair on this one. The men should have their stall dividers too.).
  5. A church argument and vote to decide if a clock in the worship center should be removed (I think this one is a timely argument.).
  6. A 45-minute heated argument over the type of filing cabinet to purchase: black or brown; 2, 3, or 4 drawers (This one is an official cabinet meeting of the church leadership.).
  7. A fight over which picture of Jesus to put in the foyer (I just want to know who took the pictures.).
  8. A petition to have all church staff clean shaven (No church planters are allowed.).
  9. A dispute over whether the worship leader should have his shoes on during the service (I vote for shoes, shirts, and pants.).
  10. A big church argument over the discovery that the church budget was off $0.10. Someone finally gave a dime to settle the issue (I have to admit this issue is ten times more important than the church missing a penny.).
  11. A dispute in the church because the Lord’s Supper had cran/grape juice instead of grape juice (Of course it should be grape juice. It’s right there in Hezekiah 4:11.).
  12. Business meeting arguments about whether the church should purchase a weed eater or not. It took two business meetings to resolve (Wow. This fight was really whacky.).
  13. Arguments over what type of green beans the church should serve (I could have resolved this conflict quickly: none.).
  14. Two different churches reported fights over the type of coffee. In one of the churches, they moved from Folgers to a stronger Starbucks brand. In the other church, they simply moved to a stronger blend. Members left the church in the latter example (Perhaps they started a new church: The Right Blend Fellowship.).
  15. Major conflict when the youth borrowed a crockpot that had not been used for years (I bet it was a bunch of crocky old adults.).
  16. An argument on whether the church should allow deviled eggs at the church meal (Only if it’s balanced with angel food cake for dessert).
  17. An argument over who has the authority to buy postage stamps for the church (The members were licking their wounds over this issue.).
  18. A disagreement over using the term “potluck” instead of “pot blessing” (I get it! The concept of luck contradicts the theology of a sovereign God. This issue is very serious. Good luck trying to resolve it. ).
  19. A church member was chastised because she brought vanilla syrup to the coffee server. It looked too much like liquor. (Beth Moore confessed she was the culprit who brought the syrup. Don’t you know, Beth, we Baptists cannot have vanilla syrup at anytime? Chocolate is fine though.).
  20. An argument in church over who has access to the copy machine (I think a calendar should be made where every church member has at least five minutes access to the copy machine each year. You can have a business meeting to vote on each five-minute increment.).
  21. Some church members left the church because one church member hid the vacuum cleaner from them. It resulted in a major fight and split (Thus the Second Electrolux Church was born.).
  22. An argument over whether to have gluten-free communion bread or not (I thought gluteny was a sin.).
  23. A dispute over whether the church should allow people to wear black t-shirts, since black is the color of the devil (Are you sure he’s not red? That’s what I’ve heard.)
  24. A fight over whether or not to sing “Happy Birthday” each week (I’ve got an idea. Alternate it with the doxology.).
  25. An argument over whether the fake, dusty plants should be removed from the podium (Just give them a little water. They should be fine.).

Yes. These issues are silly; many are absurd. But they are all distractions from what we should be doing in our churches. In that sense, they are really great distractions from the Great Commission.

Let me hear your stories!

Posted on November 11, 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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  • In a former church I pastored, we started a new Sunday School class for young adults. This church had not had a class for this age group in over a decade. Young families had started coming to our worship service and it was time to create a space and place for tbem in Sunday School. The teacher of took great pride in starting the new class and creating a welcoming environment. She bought a Keruig coffee maker and some coffee for the new class and turned the receipt in to the church office for reimbursement. The finance chair told the church in the next business meeting, “God shouldn’t be buying coffee for our Sunday School classes.” There was no mention to the fact we were reaching young families and no one spoke to the success of the new class during the discussion. Several months later, the church paid $1,500 for a senior adult banquet and there was no problem. It wasn’t okay for God for buy a $150 coffee maker, but it was okay for Him to feed the seniors for $1,500! My how we get distracted from the big picture!

  • A related story: in the 80s, a friend and I got in trouble for singing the offertory while wearing pantsuits and not skirts…! Oh, the horror.

    • There was a rabbi once who was accused of wearing nothing underneath his robe. While this was likely 99.9% false, it was believed by many in his congregation.

  • All this saddens me.

  • Many moons ago there was a 2 hour discussion about why coffee was free but coke drinkers had to pay a quarter in the machine in the new fellowship hall.

  • Loved your insights after each. Made me giggle! In a former church when the church was remodeling, an old man didn’t like the idea of recessed lighting and referred to the scripture about not hiding our light under a bush. 🙂 true story!

  • Two thoughts
    1) pastors need to take the lead and make changes where changes are needed. If you need a new clock or new printer then go get one. If someone wants to slap your hand because you didn’t go through the traditional cycle of permission, let them slap your hand, smile, and move on.

    2) all pastors and leaders in the church should be professional. Wear shoes.

  • There was a midweek childrens program and the sunday morning childrens program.

    The Sunday morning ministry was having a hard time with crowd control (one leader a majority of the time) and so teams were made up. And in order to divide the teams, there was a blue square and a red square – just the outline, nothing more. Not that big either, enough to fit maybe 10 kids in each square, tightly, but comfortably. That was implemented fairly early on in the sunday morning ministries implementation.
    The midweek program, which had been running for 6 years prior, began to have problems as a result – the kids that went to the Sunday morning ministry, wanted to sit in their team squares. So the solution for the mid-week program was to remove the tape of the sunday morning.
    The Sunday morning was gracious, and just replaced their tape, and pulled up what wasn’t there.
    For 6 years the mid-week program never used tape, then claimed they used tape all the time.
    That was the beginning of the tape wars. It ended with an argument between me and 2 board members about why this was ridiculous.

  • My favorite, that I hear far……….far……..too many times is why is (fill in the blank) in my Sunday School room, examples (chair, tv, bucket, cup, trashcan, coat rack, candy, thank you notes, bibles, books, toys in the nursery, 1 too many study books). At the reaction of most people you would have believed we actually parked a dumpster in their class or started using it as a storage room…when we begin to place importance on places and things instead of the upward call of Christ, division is the only outcome that lies ahead. Thank Thom for this post it was greatly entertaining, but all too familiar.

    • Dan Lemke says on

      There’s that, and the real question: Whose Sunday School room is it, anyway? Making it the best you can make it is great, but making it your personal fiefdom means you’ve lost sight of the mission.

  • Shawn Eure says on

    Disagreement over whether or no to allow church member to bring Dirt Devil vacuum to clean sanctuary carpet.

  • I said to myself don’t get into this conversation but I couldn’t help it. I know there are multitudes of things church members fight over, but wouldn’t be great if they would fight over who was going to go visit the next visiting family or who was going to go witness to a known lost person! Just saying! I’ve seen the bad in my ministry and am never surprised.

  • Most pastors could write a book over the time and energy we have spent dealing with these silly and pointless church arguments. Among my favorites is what I call “The Great Chicken Cutting Controversy.” Some members of the food committee that handled preparing meals for families after a funeral wanted to cut the chicken breasts in half. The committee become divided (no pun intended). Some felt it was being good stewards of the food, while others felt it gave the appearance of stinginess. I spoke with several people from both sides who felt deeply passionate about the issue and both sides threatened to bring the matter to a vote. Somehow, this never made it to a business meeting, which was a miracle.

    There’s also the “The Great Trash Can Controversy,” which took place between a Sr. ladies’ Sunday school class and the Sunday school office. The trash cans kept getting switched each week and the ladies’ class was convinced this was some dastardly conspiracy. Again, I heard murmurs of a full investigation followed by a business meeting discussion. In reality, the cleaning service kept getting the trash cans mixed up, by accident I am sure.

    I also have knowledge of a pastor at another church who placed a cappuccino maker in the church kitchen for his personal use. Moral outrage followed. Some saw this as somehow ungodly and unbecoming a pastor.

    Dear Lord help us – sometimes we have to laugh.

  • Trevor Williams says on

    I was pastoring a small church where I was Pastor/Custodian/Maintenance/Landscaper/Sunday School Teacher and anything else that needed to get done. I proposed that the church buy a Leaf Blower and had the same results as #12.

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