For many years I served as a consultant to churches and denominations, a role I relinquished when I became president of LifeWay more than eight years ago. Part of our consultative process was interviewing church members. Inevitably I would hear issues of concern and issues among church members over which arguments took place.
This blog is a forum for many different voices in the world of Christian churches. But, in different posts, I have heard the same theme of disagreements among church members that I heard in my church consultations. You can see many of those comments in past blog posts.
My purpose in this post is not to offer my own assessment of each argument, just to point out common issues in many churches. You will notice that I don’t mention biblical and theological arguments on this list. Those arguments are pervasive in other blogs, but they typically take place among pastors and theologians.
The following, however, are more common among the rank-and-file church members.
- Worship and music style. I do believe this long-standing battle is diminishing. But it’s still around, sometimes with intensity.
- Volume of music in the services. This issue is, of course, closely related to the first issue. It is, however, a battle unto itself in some churches.
- Reasons why churches die. There are many perspectives on this matter, and it often becomes a point of debate in declining churches. Members struggle to discern why their particular churches are declining.
- Proper attire for church services. I have never posted on this topic, but that has not stopped some pretty lively comments in posts that are tangentially related at best. I’m still debating whether or not I should give my ties to Goodwill.
- Pastors’ salaries. Though the discussion has been lively on posts of this topic, the majority of those commenting desire to see pastors have a better or more adequate income.
- Megachurches. I have not posted a qualitative article on megachurches yet. But I have posted lists of large churches. The mere mention of large churches or megachurches seems to draw strongly opinionated church members.
- The number of hours a pastor works each week. Sometimes I am surprised by the intensity of comments on some topics. This topic is one of those.
- Why people leave a church. Closely related to number three, some church members express strong opinions on why people leave a church. Most of them have strong opinions on how to close the back door as well.
- Role of a pastor’s wife. I am still seeing comments on a couple of posts I did on this topic. Hardly a day passes that someone else doesn’t join the discussion.
- Perspectives on pastors’ children. This topic drew many pastors’ kids and former pastors’ kids. The strong emotions were indicative of a lot of hurt and pain that was still present in these current and former PKs.
These are the issues of contention that I have observed. What are your perspectives? What would you add?
Thom S. Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.
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