12 People Who Frustrate Church Leaders

Let me start this post with a caveat: I will be forever grateful for the brothers and sisters with whom I’ve served in local churches. Nevertheless, I, like other church leaders, have dealt with folks who frustrate leaders. Based on my years of working with churches, here are some of those people:

  1. “Tradition protectors” – the members who believe it’s their duty to protect every church tradition, whether or not the tradition is still relevant; known for phrases like, “That’s not the way we’ve always done it.”
  2. “Theological system guardians” – members who elevate their own theological system above any other; they quickly point out anyone who differs in any interpretation.
  3. “Zealous critics” – typically young, these members get stressed at anything that isn’t exactly the way it should be; they speak idealistically about how to lead, even though they’ve never led a church.
  4. “I’ve done my duty’ pew sitters” – those members who quit serving through the church a long time ago; they attend, but do nothing.
  5.  “Humbling complainers” – members who grumble continually, carrying the assumed responsibility to humble leaders; as one member once said to me, “God uses me to keep you from getting too high on yourself.” 
  6. “Threatening financiers” – members who apparently believe they provide most of the church’s budget; they regularly threaten to hold their tithes if things don’t go their way.
  7.  “By-laws watchdogs” – the members who know the constitution and by-laws almost verbatim; they use the documents to their benefit when needed, and resort to them when they want to exert their influence.
  8. “One-cause crusaders” – focused on only one ministry or sacred cow, these members guard their turf with all their force; consequently, they contribute to silos that so often mark congregations.
  9. “Anonymous correspondents” – members who express their opinion, but only behind the curtain of anonymity; they share concerns, but they do so with cowardice.
  10.  “’Some people say’ exaggerators” – the members who spread rumors based on what other people may have said; they generally portray a few people (sometimes even only themselves) as “some people.”
  11. “God told me” claimants – members who stand on what “God told me,” regardless of whether what God is reported to have said contradicts His Word; they almost dare others to differ with them.
  12.  “Hypocritical betrayers” – members who are on the church rolls, but who don’t really have a relationship with Jesus; they are known to turn against God’s leaders.

As you read through this list, I suspect you may think of some church members (or, if you’re honest, you may see yourself among this list). If so, take time to pray for them and for yourself If you only get more frustrated, you contribute to the problem rather than help solve it.

God, please help us all to be the people You want us to be.


  • I should think the ones who rarely, if ever, attend would be of the greatest concern. They are people that church leaders admitted to the church, on the church’s terms, and don’t make any visible effort to be disciples. And about whom the church doesn’t seem to do anything. At all.

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Thanks for the additional thought, Bob.

  • Ken says:

    My two biggest frustrations are (1) those who are quick to point out problems in the church, but never lift a finger to solve them, and (2) those who choose to leave the church rather than help fix the problems.

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Thanks, Ken.

  • Joe Schmoe says:

    I just wonder, after you knock out those groups of people, who is left? We’re all on a spiritual journey and most mature believers have been one of these people at some point…How about we love and show patience unconditionally regardless of where others are in their journeys with God?

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      I don’t disagree, Joe. My point is to help us see ourselves so we can work on our own issues even while others love us through these stages. Thanks. 

  • Lewis Culpepper says:

    I remember this one time I actually meet a pastor that was not perfect. A fence has two sides we must all seek the gate.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.