If you read this blog regularly, you know my love and respect for pastors (I am one). I write this post not to offend pastors, but to help us be aware of some perceptions and realities. In my church consulting work, we often hear concerns that church members readily express to their leaders (e.g., they don’t like the music; they don’t like the way money is spent, etc.). We also hear, though, concerns that members tell us but often choose not to express to their pastors. Here are some of those unexpressed concerns we’ve heard:
- “We’re struggling with your preaching.” Most church members love their pastors, and they don’t want to hurt them. Because they know preaching is a personal love for their pastors, they often don’t tell them their concerns.
- “We feel like the church lacks a vision.” The members themselves may not know what the vision should be, but some of them recognize when there doesn’t seem to be one. Still, they’re more likely to talk about it among themselves than with their pastor.
- “We don’t think you care about us.” Even the people who feel this concern most deeply sometimes wrestle with verbalizing it, perhaps because saying it aloud sounds almost selfish. Some members see their pastor as less than a caring shepherd, however.
- “We’re not sure we can trust you.” It takes only one betrayal of trust to create distrust that can quickly spread through a congregation. Rather than tell pastors, though, members simply share their burdens with someone else.
- “We don’t like our church growing this way.” Few people want to admit this concern publicly, but it’s out there. Sometimes the very committee that called the pastor gets upset when the church grows so much that they lose some of their power.
- “We’re worried about the health of your marriage.” You can understand why nobody says anything here, even when the concern is genuine (and frankly, sometimes justified).
- “We want you to put your phone down and listen to us.” It’s hard to tell a pastor these words, though, because most of us also bury our heads in our devices and don’t listen well.
- “We wonder if it’s time for you to retire.” This concern is especially tough to put in words when the pastor has been a beloved, long-term, faithful leader.
Church members, what other concerns would you want to lovingly and respectfully express?