8 Reasons Some Church Members Are Mean

To be honest, I’ve been blessed. In all the churches where I’ve served as pastor or interim pastor, most of my members have been great people. Sometimes, though, a church member can be downright mean. Based on our Lawless Group interviews and surveys over the years, here are some of the reasons church members can be mean:

  1. All church members are still people. That’s not an excuse for meanness, though; it’s just an admission of reality. Even saved people sometimes act like sinners when the right button gets pushed.
  2. Some are non-believers. Even Jesus had one in His immediate group of twelve who was never a believer, and I doubt our churches will do better than Jesus did. Lost people will always act like lost people eventually – even when they don’t think they’re lost.
  3. Many are undiscipled. Too many churches bring people into the local congregation, but then do nothing to disciple them. The new believers remain babies in Christ, even when they’ve been in the church for years. Usually, they whine a lot. 
  4. Some are carrying burdens alone. Often, we don’t know what burdens others bear because we choose to carry our own pain alone. The father who can’t find a job . . . the parents whose child has been arrested . . . the teen whose parents have just split up . . . the faithful member who is being abused . . . sometimes the anguish of life weighs so heavy on us that our tempers are short and our words are volatile.
  5. Some were given authority far too early. When our churches give positions to those who haven’t yet grown (and many churches do that, granting positions on the basis of years in the church rather than on maturity in the faith), we shouldn’t be surprised when they fight to protect their toys. That’s what kids do. 
  6. Some are living in sin. For anyone who is a true believer, the conviction of sin cuts deeply – but that doesn’t always result in immediate repentance. Church members who remain in their sin for any length of time sometimes turn their conviction on others. Judging somebody else at least briefly turns their attention from their own sin.
  7. Some have anger issues. Maybe you know people like that. They’re great one minute, but they erupt like a volcano the next. They’re often quickly repentant, too, but they get no help in breaking the pattern.
  8. The church lets them be mean. At the bottom line, church members are mean because the church allows them to be that way. For whatever reason – perhaps it’s fear of losing members – churches sometimes refuse to confront members who need to repentant of their rudeness and unkindness. Instead, we simply let them live in their sin. The choice to avoid confrontation is unChristian. In fact, you might even say it’s mean. 

What other reasons would you add?


  • Pete Keough says:

    Another great list! I would add another reason: Church members are mean because the church is not ‘doing what they think it should be doing’ (i.e. Things aren’t going their way)

  • Dave Frasure says:

    Sometimes we’re really screwing up and we interpret their responses as mean when in reality we are the problem.

  • Lettie Dozier says:

    Some members are given more responsibilitys than they can handle and it becomes frustating for every one/

  • Earle Walker says:

    Some people have a personality that enjoys conflict and they have learned that you can have your way if you are willing to be be mean to others. Most church folks fear conflict and will let those who enjoy conflict have their way. Church need individuals who love the Lord and love His church and are not afraid of confronting the negative people who thrive on conflict. When such people lead out then the church is more likely to rise up and stop the negative crowd.

  • Some are mean and have never been confronted, People use meanness and anger to manipulate and control.

  • Jay Bailey says:

    Some people never got corrected as a child as in spanked and have been spoiled brats all their lives which has enabled their condition. Those same folks think they own the church.

  • Lou says:

    Oh yes. I’ve had my share of mean and down right angry people unfortunately. Never have I seen a time when there are so many immature Christians. Years back the standard was higher and more obvious. But now a days, with watered down messages, many Christians are not being challenged or confronted with holiness. I think a big snare is putting people into ministries based on their GIFTS and not on their spirituality. An easy mistake to make when you really need the man power to help in your small church. I’ve worked with a few carnal but gifted musicians, who were unteachable and could not be confronted. I’ve come to the conclusion, I’d rather only have just a few humble and faithful servers serving with me than a large amount of great players that threatened the unity and purity of the ministry. Hard for a musician to do but best for the ministry and God’s glory.

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Good thoughts, Lou. Thanks.

  • adet says:

    In our church which I left ,there is favoritism.If theyare not in favor with you ,there is also different unkind treatment with your kids.

  • Abigail Todd says:

    This was a blessing and enlightening during a time of need. Thank you.

  • Michael says:

    I walked into a church today to ask about talking to the pastor, and I asked about a lady who I met from that church once before, but I was an outsider just walking in there who had never joined that church yet. The lady at the front office was very cold and rude to me and made me feel like an unwanted intruder. I always thought that you were always supposed to feel welcome at church. I am guessing though, that this treatment I got is just a product of the times we live in now. When you see some outsider walking in and you don’t know who they are or what they’re like, especially if you and her are the only ones there at the time, you’re automatically gonna be on guard and uncomfortable whether it’s at a church or anywhere else, because of the way the world has now become. She might have also not liked that I asked about the food pantry. She could’ve just thought I was some freeloader trying to get free food. I wasn’t though, I was genuinely just a good guy who wanted to be a better Christian. But again, how was she to know that with a total stranger walking in there and with the way the world is today? I guess that’s what it was.

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Thanks for your thoughts. 

    • Lori says:

      So, someone who walks into a church and requests free food is what you call a freeloader? I would call them hungry! Sir, do you know who JESUS is? The church is not a building or organization. The true church IS the followers of Jesus Christ. And this is the problem in American “churches”.

  • JUNJUN says:

    Some think they have ALL the answers just because they study the Word. Some dont like to admit when they are being intrusive and some cause or scare some people out with all of their alarmist talk. No one wants to hear the obvious every time they are involved in a conversation. Some people need to learn how to quit scaring other people away from the church by telling them something is always going to disrupt their lives or storms might come to mess up their happy lives. God is a God of light and love. He dont want anyone referencing his name with suffering. Those people know there will be hard times. They dont have to be reminded of that every time they hold a conversation. Give them hope and peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

  • Steve says:

    I think in some cases, church people come from unhealthy families of origin that do not handle conflict or disagreement by speaking the truth in love, but rather by manipulation and secrets in the background. They impose this on churches. Healthy churches are corrective, sometimes just naturally and sometimes confronting it with gentle strength, to this tendency. But sometimes this pattern is reinforced and triangles develop. When these kind of people get power, they get dangerous. My heart goes out to them, because the origins are generally and poor emotional health.

  • Marcella Vicente says:

    Yes, I have found that to be very true. It really is a shame, don’t these people know that they will have to pay for the souls of the lost Lambs of God?

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