Dear Pastor: “Rude, Rude, Rude”

Content by Rev. Paul Johnson, CCA

This is a series of articles about real world problems that churches often find difficult to handle. They are presented in the form of emails for ease of conversation but can come in many different ways.

Disclaimer: All the names are made up and in no way identify actual people nor does the author assume responsibility for the opinion expressed in the response.

Rumage Sale

Well so much for the New Year’s resolution to be less stressed!

Our illustration today is pretty extreme but it is not far off the mark. If you are the sole pastor of a church, YOU may be the person in this tirade that is being pummeled.

There are several steps that a church and pastor/administrator may do to help make this process more effective and easier to manage.

Here are several key questions to ask ourselves.

  1. When and how much do you pay attention to this kind of person?
    1. Is this individual someone that we have dubbed an “EGR” (Extra Grace Required)?
    2. If you ignore the complaint, what are the consequences?
  2. How can you maintain a healthy attitude and continue to work effectively as their pastor?
    1. Time is your ally here. Usually the person will calm down and get over the embarrassment of the situation. After all, loving the unlovable is what church is all about. But what about your feelings and what about the target of the attack?
    2. If you were not the target of this attack, then make sure that you go over the incident with the person involved and help heal the wound. There may be the need to suggest more tactful responses depending on your analysis of the incident and what you know of both people involved.
  3. What if she carries out her threat to make a huge deal about this with leadership?
    1. First, this is very unlikely.
    2. Second, if she does will people see the true problem is her?
    3. Finally, how can we be the arbiter of Grace for this person?
  4. When is enough, enough?
    1. At what point should a church be willing to ask a person to move on? Ever?
    2. What might be the best for this person?  You can argue that so much baggage exists for this person in this church that their finding a new church home is really the best chance for them to have a fresh start and a new chance to be loved.

This is a difficult situation with complex issues involved. This may be a great chance for a teachable moment with leadership of the congregation and maybe even a sermon or two.

Leave a Comment