This year, 2015, was another great year at ThomRainer.com. Thanks to all of you who have read, commented on, and shared the posts and podcasts here at the site. We have some great plans for 2016, and I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring, but today we take a look back at the biggest posts of the year. Click here to see posts #6 through #10.
Top 10 Posts of the Year: #1 through #5
Few people are truly aware of the constant requests, complaints, and criticisms pastors and other church leaders receive. I must admit, however, I was surprised when I asked church leaders on Twitter to share some of the more unusual comments they have received. I was first surprised at how many responded. But I was most surprised at the really strange things people tell pastors and other church leaders.
Many of the comments related to using the Bible too much or to being too evangelistic. I should make those a blog post by themselves.
I narrowed my selection to twenty-five, but it could have been much higher. I left off many great comments to keep this post manageable. I’ve only made minor wording changes to some of these. For the most part, I received these quotes just as you are seeing them. The parenthetical words after each comment represent my off-the-cuff commentary.
One of the more common questions I’m asked relates to growth barriers. For example, church leaders may want to know how to move past the 150-attendance level of the past five years. Or other leaders desire to know how to break though financial giving barriers.
Those questions are tough because they often presume a brief response to be adequate. In reality, there are many theological and methodological issues at work in growth barriers. Today, I am looking at a very basic barrier: lack of friendliness to church guests.
In a previous blog post, I noted things we should not say to a guest in our worship services. In today’s post I look at the positive perspective: seven things we should say to guests.
For most pastors, preaching is one of the most important facets of their ministries. It is that time when they get to expound on God’s Word. Much of their training has focused on preaching, and they often spend 15 to 20 hours preparing each sermon.
Pastors, with few exceptions, love their church members. They desire to serve their congregants well. They desire to be gracious and friendly to those who approach them. That is why most of them would be highly reticent to say what I am about to say.
Many times pastors get very distracted and even discouraged when someone speaks to them right before they preach. Let me elaborate in my usual fashion by making six observations.
“My church is a mean church!”
I received two emails this week from church members who made that very statement. The members are from two different churches in two different states. One of the churches belongs to a denomination; the other is non-denominational. In both cases the church members made the decision to drop out of local church life altogether.
Yes, I tried to reason with the two members. I told them that no church is perfect. If they had any doubt, I wrote, look at the two letters the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. I failed in convincing them to stay in their churches. I pray they will become active in other churches later.
I love local churches. But I have to admit, I am hearing more from long-term members who are quitting church life completely. One member wrote me, “The non-Christians I associate with are much nicer people than the members of my church.”
Ouch. That really hurt.
So, after receiving the second email, I began to assimilate all the information I could find where church members had written me about their “mean” churches. They may not have used the word “mean” specifically, but the intent was the same. I then collected characteristics of these churches, and I found nine that were common. I call these the “nine traits of mean churches.”
Church bullies are common in many churches. They wreak havoc and create dissension. They typically must have an “enemy” in the church, because they aren’t happy unless they are fighting a battle. They tend to maneuver to get an official leadership position in the church, such as chairman of the elders or deacons or treasurer. But they may have bully power without any official position.
Church bullies have always been around. But they seem to be doing their work more furiously today than in recent history. Perhaps this look at nine traits of church bullies can help us recognize them before they do too much damage.