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.
- 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.).
- 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.).
- 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.).
- 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.).
- 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.).
- 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.).
- A fight over which picture of Jesus to put in the foyer (I just want to know who took the pictures.).
- A petition to have all church staff clean shaven (No church planters are allowed.).
- A dispute over whether the worship leader should have his shoes on during the service (I vote for shoes, shirts, and pants.).
- 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.).
- 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.).
- 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.).
- Arguments over what type of green beans the church should serve (I could have resolved this conflict quickly: none.).
- 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.).
- 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.).
- 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).
- An argument over who has the authority to buy postage stamps for the church (The members were licking their wounds over this issue.).
- 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. ).
- 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.).
- 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.).
- 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.).
- An argument over whether to have gluten-free communion bread or not (I thought gluteny was a sin.).
- 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.)
- A fight over whether or not to sing “Happy Birthday” each week (I’ve got an idea. Alternate it with the doxology.).
- 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.
More from Thom
These are sad as church arguments always are. Unfortunately I have lived through a lot of these.
We had a “historical chair”, in our small church. It had a small Brad’s plaque, on the back, dedicating it to the memory of one of the former pastors.
I made the mistake of offering it to the new youth minister, to put at his desk. The deacons called a meeting to chastise me for having someone sit in the historical chair.
The next Sunday I preached, what my boys fondly remember as, “the chair sermon”. I brought the chair up to the front, and gave an entire, 30 minute sermon to the chair. I then gave an invitation, exclusively to the chair, pleading with it to come and be saved.
I said, if the chair is this important, we should at least make sure it has the opportunity to become a Christian chair.
So you embarrassed the deacons in front of the entire church. That was really petty.
Actually he used their pettiness to call out ridiculous arguing, but if you want to join the deacon chastisement committee–I’m sure they would be thrilled to add another!
My husband is a DOM & found minutes from one of our churches concerning a piano. Evidently there was an annual discussion over whether or not the piano should be up on the stage or down on the floor. Each year, it was moved to one spot or the other. He finally found the minutes stating they had sold the piano.
The american consumer attitude is what drives this stupidity.
My father is pastor of our church (or former church, since my husband and I just moved our of state. 🙁 ) My mom told me that years ago, there was a churxh member who came up to her and said that she and Dad had to put up curtains in the nursery, there were none. My mom told the woman, “that sounds like a great idea. Why don’t you get on that right away?” The windows never got curtains. And the woman was even a seamstress.
I was always taught that if you see a need you can fill, step up. That is how a body functions. It isn’t the pastor’s job, or the deacon’s, or elders… Of course there are designate offices, but caring for the house of God? Why not give a gift? Everyone can do something. Are you that stingy that you can’t tithe your time and offer your resources above and beyond a tax write-off in the offering plate? What kind of Christianity is this?
Yep, I’ve run into that many times: a person says “Don’t you think we ought to…?”, but what they really mean is, “I think you ought to….” What really gets me is when I suggest they do something about it, and they say, “Um… well, I can’t do it myself, but if someone doesn’t do it, I just may find myself another church!” I have to restrain myself from saying, “Bye!”
While the pastor/elder is often the one stuck having to deal with these petty arguments, there are plenty of times when a pastor/leader is the one driving the nutty disagreements. Just sayin’.
In a staff evaluation, I was once told I was overweight and that my shoes were too worn and dingy.
My husband (pastor) actually walked out of a business meeting after nearly two hours of arguing because he wanted permission to look into prices to put in a handicap accessible bathroom… we still don’t have a handicap accessible bathroom 🙁
We have handicapped accessible restrooms, but I built them myself. The accessible pathway to and from them keeps getting constricted, however, by unneeded furniture donated by relatives of members.
Thom, I’m guessing this one will make it to the podcast after the response. I honestly didn’t know if I should laugh or cry at these. I read them to my church last night and thanked them for being people with common sense.
In one business meeting we were talking about buying a new heater for our baptistery. It didn’t cause a major rift, but one woman made the comment, “We don’t use the baptistery that much.” I had to resist an urge to beat my head against the podium! Fortunately one of the men spoke up and said, “Well, we want that to change, don’t we?”
Dr. Rainer may remember this one. Just a few years ago there was a lengthy debate at the Southern Baptist Convention over whether people should be allowed to address motions from the platform mic. I told someone, “If your opinion can be swayed that easily, your church probably needs to elect some new messengers.”
Had people leave the church because the piano had been moved from one side of the platform to the other side.
I recently sent through a church board meeting that argued for over 30 minutes about whether we should sing worship songs, read scripture and talk about it, and share the Lord supper together or just get down to business…
In the greater foolishness of my youth, I attended a wild church with a lady pastor. One Sunday, when our group had traveled to visit another church, some of the men went off to the side to have a debate. The debate was about which lady, in the church, had the largest top dimension. The men were caught and displayed before the congregation the following Sunday. I learned to keep my eyes in my head at a young age.