Some Thoughts about “the Angry Few” in Local Church Conflicts

I’ve seen it happen. Just a few angry or frustrated people in a church can create havoc for an entire congregation. What I’ve also seen in decades of pastoring and church consulting, though, are these things: 

  1. We shouldn’t be surprised by the few. Jesus had twelve men in his group, and one of those was a fake from the beginning. I doubt our ratio will be better than His.
  2. The few are seldom as powerful as they think they are. Sometimes they’ve taken power when leadership voids existed, and they assume they still have that power. Or, they’re fighting to keep the power they lost when new leadership arrived. 
  3. The few are often louder in voice than they are mighty in influence. My experience is that the few are often just that—a few. They just happen to be louder than others. 
  4. The few sometimes genuinely believe in their positions. They’re fighting for something they truly believe, even if their position is invalid. 
  5. The few have often never truly been discipledSomebody has given them a voice (and often a position and power), but without truly walking with them to follow Christ. They may not be believers at all, or they may still be baby believers.  
  6. The few often assume that their giving keeps the church afloat. More often than not, however, I’ve seen churches lose very few dollars when the few stop giving –which means that the few may not have been giving much anyway. 
  7. Some churches give up trying to change the few. The patterns of the few become so much a part of the church’s history that everybody else assumes nothing will ever change. Nobody is willing to stand against the few. 
  8. The few are still men and women for whom Jesus died. We know that truth intellectually, but we fail to think about it when anger consumes everybody. 
  9. Sometimes, the few have a valid point – they just don’t know how to express it in a Christ-honoring way. Consequently, nobody listens to them because their attitude blocks their message. 
  10. The few need our humble prayers. They need our prayers because they’re still part of our local body. We must be humble about it because any of us could quickly become part of an angry few, also.  
  11. Confronting the few sometimes becomes necessary. Let’s just make sure we do so in a way that pleases the Lord. A second angry few confronting the first angry few can become war. 

If your church is dealing with an angry few, take time to pray for them today. Pray as well for those church leaders who much deal directly with them. 


  • Mark says:

    They are not all angry. Some just view themselves as the keepers of the doctrine and everyone else as heretics. Some are the ones doing a lot of the work in a congregation with really no voice except through this method. Some are perceived to be angrier than they really are. Some have not been treated well and so are upset over things. You will never know until you talk with them individually to find out what is really going on.

    • Jim Watson says:

      The people you describe seem t fall into the “frustrated” side of these people (as described in the second sentence of this article). The people you describe sound very much like the people populating our churches who profess to be Christians but want to be their own lords. If you are “the keepers of the doctrine and everyone else is a heretic”, you are either wrong, or the church to which you belong is not really a church. If you are doing a lot of the work in a congregation but need to really have a voice through this method (or any other method), you are working for yourself, not the Lord. If you get upset just because you have not been treated well, you seem to have missed the point about expecting persecution (which is really much worse than simply being treated badly). Hopefully, before I engage this person in conversation, they will do some self-reflection about these areas. Otherwise, I suspect that they won’t be happy with the individual conversation either.

      • Mark says:

        “If you are doing a lot of the work in a congregation but need to really have a voice through this method (or any other method), you are working for yourself, not the Lord.”
        Are you saying that you can do a lot of the work but don’t deserve a voice through any other method?

        • Jim Watson says:

          I am saying that the voice that is needed is Christ’s, not ours. I am saying that we need to follow leaders. I am saying that you have a voice in legitimate ways even though things may be decided contrary to your own wishes. And, if you become one of those people who HAS TO influence things to go the way YOU think they should go, you are your own god. As long as the church is acting in a manner in keeping with what the Bible actually says, you need to take a step back and ask why you object to that. Either you object to what the Bible says, or you want your own personal preferences to be included. If the church is not acting in keeping with what the Bible actually says, your voice is not needed. Church discipline is.

      • Chuck Lawless says:

        Thanks, Jim. 

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Mark. 

  • Donnie says:

    I have dealt with the angry few, but you have to be careful not becoming angry yourself. This is a very hard thing to do. You have to be careful that you do not become the very thing you are fighting. And I have experienced that when the angry few leave the church, they don’t stop being angry. They will continue to work on destroying you and the church. Bathe at all in prayer, but always do the right thing in the Lord Jesus Christ no matter the outcome. As a pastor, you could be at that church for the very reason of helping it get past a lot of bad issues. Don’t bail out, get a clear voice from the Lord before you do.

  • Robin Jordan says:

    I am finding the most difficult situation to handle is the longtime church member who signals in various ways that he is unhappy with you as a pastor but refuses to talk to you about why he is unhappy and the ability of such individuals to attract to themselves other church members who may for various reasons, real or imagined, be unhappy with your ministry and to stoke these church members’ unhappiness. In a small church which may be on its last legs, such a development can be a real problem. It can impact your efforts to reach and engage the unchurched in the community and to turn the church around. .

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      I agree that it’s tough when the angry person is unwilling to talk, Robin. Just prayed for your work. 

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