Leadership

Every church has some members who test the pastor's nerves. (Unsplash)

I love the local church. I really do. Deeply.

But almost every church I know has members and attenders who get under the skin of a leader.

Here are 10 of those types of people for me:

  1. The "doom and gloom" member: Nothing ever goes right for this member, and it's never his or her fault. I don't even like to see this person coming my way.
  2. The "on the edge of leaving" member: He's always threatening to leave over something—so much so that you learn to ignore his threats (and frankly, wish he would leave).
  3. The "amateur theologian" member: This member thinks he knows theology, and he's always debating something. Usually, he has his own theological stance that he fights to defend and promote.
  4. The "Did you know?" member: He wants to be "in the know" about everything in the church. In fact, he's involved in almost all of the church's gossip and gets angry when he's out of the loop.
  5. The "recommitment" member: She shows up about every six months, recommits her life to Jesus, and then disappears for the next six months.
  6. The "constitutional lawyer" member: Nobody knows the church constitution like this member does, and he brings out the documents any time he doesn't like something.
  7. The "internet sermon troll" member: He listens to everybody else's sermons online, and then critiques my sermons in light of others. Indeed, he listens for errors more than for truth and application for himself.
  8. The "nostalgia freak" member: She knows everything about the church's history, and she sees her role as protecting the past by fighting against anything new. You just know she's going to oppose something before you ever bring it up.
  9. The "unforgiving saint" member: He got angry over something years ago, and he refuses to let it go. When confronted about it, he can spiritualize his reasons with the best of them.
  10. The "on sabbatical" member: No matter what you do, this member refuses to serve in the church. "I've done my duty in the past," he says.

To be honest, folks like these make pastoral ministry less than fun some days. Here's my encouragement, though: Take time to pray specifically for these members in your church. Maybe God will change a few so they don't drive you crazy anymore.

Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is team leader for theological education strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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