Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Encouraging, the Bizarre, the Awful!




Dear Friends,

The young woman had left her megachurch to become a regular attender at ours. One Sunday, she told me that she didn’t like the way I sang our worship songs. She said that our songs didn’t sound like the way the worship team did them at her last church. I said, “You mean to tell me that this one old guy with a guitar doesn’t sound exactly like a professional mega-church praise and worship band?” She also informed me that I was doing Holy Communion all wrong.

Many years ago, a member approached me to tell me that she and another woman didn’t approve of the “fact” that one of our church members was my “concubine.” I told her that, in the Bible, a concubine was a woman who had voluntarily become a man’s sexual slave and I asked her if that was the word she intended to use. She believed that she was a prophet sent by God and firmly stated that God had spoken to her and told her that the church member was my concubine. I told her that she may be listening to voices from the "spirit world" but it was not the voice of God. Both the two “concubine” accusers and the young “mega-church” woman were constantly critical of me and New Hope Family Church. I felt a huge sense of relief when these women left our church!

Few people are truly aware of the constant requests, complaints and criticisms that pastors receive, and so a church consultant recently asked pastors to share what some of those were:

“We need a small group for cat lovers.”

“You need to change your voice.”

“Our expensive coffee is attracting too many young people.”

“You should know that the Bible says that preachers who don’t wear suits and ties aren’t saved.”

“Your socks are distracting.”

“You shouldn’t make people leave the youth group just because they’ve graduated from high school.”

(To a pastor’s wife) “Would you ask Pastor Jeff to buy me some panties and bring them by on his way to church?”

“I don’t like the color of the paper towels in the women’s restroom.”

“We need to start attracting more normal people at church.”

“I developed cancer because you don’t preach from the King James Version.”

“Your wife never compliments me about my hair or dress.”

“Not enough people signed up for the church golf tournament because you have poor leadership skills.”

“If Jesus sang from the green hymnals, why can’t we?”

(To a pastor who married interracially). “You are living in sin. You shouldn’t be married to a colored woman.” 

“I don’t like the brand of donuts in the foyer.”

“You didn’t wrap the hot dogs in bacon for the church picnic.”

“You shouldn’t drink water when you preach.” 

“The toilet paper is on the wrong way in the ladies restroom. It’s supposed to be rolled under.”

“You don’t have ashtrays in the fellowship hall.”

“Didn’t you see me waving in the back of the church? You preached too long. It was time to eat!” 

“The eggs were not scrambled enough at the senior’s  breakfast.”

“We’re leaving the church because of the red cross on the building. That’s the color of the devil.”

“Sorry I was late to church. My dog Rambo and I have been witnessing to people.”

“Are you the one who keeps taking the beer off my daddy’s grave?”

“We never had hurricanes until you moved into our town.”

“You need to turn all the lights up during worship. You can’t worship God when it’s dark because He is light.”

“Can you perform a ceremony for just living together since we don’t want to get married?”

“I really appreciate the content of your sermons, but I can’t stand to watch you as you deliver it.”

“You don’t have the anointing of God. My cat agrees with me.”

“You blink too much when you preach and your skin is too pale.”

“The donuts and cakes you bring every Sunday are not enough. You need to make sandwiches and bring salads for after each service.” oh wait a moment.. that last comment was made to me..

We can easily laugh at some of these until we think about how they were received by the pastors. Were these all laughed off or was there discouragement? Were these no big deal or the final straw that ended a ministry career? Here's the secret that pastors don't want you to know. A 2016 survey showed that 80% of church pastors have experienced burnout. 77% regularly deal with unrealistic expectations from their congregation. 85% have seriously considered leaving the ministry and 75% consider doing that on a regular basis. 60% believe their church is a toxic environment because of some of the church members. 61% fight depression and an astounding 83% say they take prescription drugs for anxiety or mood disorders. And that survey was in 2016 and long before Covid-19 emptied out churches and reduced offerings to an unsustainable level.

When I read the submissions from the pastors, I laughed. I cringed. One made me angry and I hope it made you angry too. Like every pastor alive today, I can remember the wonderfully encouraging things, the absolutely bizarre things and the incredibly awful things that church people have said to me over the years. The AMEN Corner is sent to people from many different churches and I encourage you all to pray for your priest or pastor. Your prayers are what we need more than anything else!

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The AMEN Corner is a weekly devotional for the family and friends of New Hope Family Church. It is intended for this devotional to be strengthening, encouraging or comforting and your comments too should be for the glory of God and reflect the intended purpose of these posts.

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