“The poor will be with you always,” Jesus said, but I’m sure He could have added, "The stupid vision killers will pursue you always.”
Acknowledge But Don’t React
As much as we would love to send to some of these to Gitmo for vision espionage, we simply don’t have that authority … sadly. But if we give their voice weight, they will keep looking for opportunities to complain.
Naysayers and complainers don’t have a desire to help in what they say. They are looking for a platform that will hear them and respond. It makes them feel empowered.
It doesn’t matter if you satisfy their complaint; they will find something else because they aren’t looking for a solution. They are looking power. So don’t give it to them.
Acknowledge what they’ve said, be kind and gentle, but don’t promise or change something in response to their complaint. If you do, it will be like crack—they will run you down for another snort. They get high on that feeling!
Point Them to the Vision
This is the best way to re-train (if possible) some of the complainers. Have a simple but powerful vision. And when they begin to point out how things need to be changed, acknowledge what they said but then immediately turn the conversation to the impact of the vision.
Talk about the transformation of lives yet to come. Remind them of where the church is going and its heart.
“The music is too loud.” Really? I’ll check on that, but isn’t it great how our music makes worship more engaging for so many different people? Those are the ones Jesus wants us to reach. I’m glad you are a part of helping those find Jesus here.
Ask Them to Leave
This is a last resort, but sometimes you just have to make that move. Sure, you can keep trying to keep them “happy” and there, but they’re sucking the life out of you and killing your vision. Sometimes you just have to cut loose the religious to reach the unchurched. Be gentle, but don’t leave to doubt what’s happening.
Artie Davis is the pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Orangeburg, S.C. He heads the Comb Network and the Sticks Conference. He speaks and writes about leadership, ministry, church planting and cultural diversity in the church. You can find his blog at ArtieDavis.com, or catch him on Twitter @artiedavis.