I love the local church. I really do. Deeply. But, almost every church I know has members and attenders who get under the skin of a leader. Here are 13 of those types of people for me:
- The “doom and gloom” member: Nothing ever goes right for this member, and it’s never his or her fault. I don’t even like to see this person coming my way.
- The “on the edge of leaving” member: He’s always threatening to leave over something – so much so that you learn to ignore his threats (and frankly, might wish he would leave).
- The “amateur theologian” member: This member thinks he knows theology, and he’s always debating something. Usually, he has his own theological stance that he fights to promote and defend.
- The “have you heard?” member: He wants to be “in the know” about everything in the church. In fact, he’s involved in almost all of the church’s gossip and gets angry when he’s out of the loop.
- The “church shopper” member: She shows up about every six months, reaffirms her commitment to the church, and then disappears for the next six months while she visits every other church in the area.
- The “constitutional lawyer” member: Nobody knows the church constitution like this member does, and he brings out the documents any time he doesn’t like something.
- The “internet sermon troll” member: He listens to everybody else’s sermons online, and then critiques the pastor’s sermons in light of others.
- The “nostalgia” member: She knows everything about the church’s history, and she sees her role as protecting the past by fighting against anything new.
- The “unforgiving saint” member: He got angry over something years ago, and he refuses to let it go. When confronted about it, he can spiritualize his reasons with the best of them.
- The “on permanent sabbatical” member: No matter what you do, this member refuses to serve in the church. “I’ve done my duty in the past,” he says.
- The “unidentified ‘pot stirrer’” member: In public and up front, she’s a faithful, loving, needed member. Behind the scenes, she’s subtly stirring up opposition and creating division.
- The “financial threat” member: He often reminds the pastor that he’ll withhold his tithes if things don’t go his way—and he genuinely believes that his decreased giving will create chaos and lead the church to listen to him.
- The “professional critic” member: This member points out everything he thinks is wrong. It’s as if he makes a living by—and feeds off of—magnifying problems.
To be honest, folks like these make pastoral ministry less than fun some days. Here’s my encouragement to you, though: take time to pray specifically for these members in your church. Maybe God will change a few of them. Or, perhaps He’ll show you that you’re sometimes one of them, too . . . .