Dealing with Church “Naysayers”

There are naysayers in every church. You know them. The complainers. The arguers. The “we’ve never done it that way before”-ers.

One thing to remember, however is that they’re usually squeaky wheels. A vocal minority. (If they really are a majority, maybe you should find another congregation to serve.) They’re usually a small percentage of the total congregation who, because of their unhappiness, shouts louder than anyone else.

Our instinct is to argue with them; to prove we’re right and they’re wrong. So we argue: snide comments while giving the announcements, sideways jabs during the sermons, confrontations in meetings. But this has the exact opposite effect because that’s what they want: to argue. And while you’re arguing, the work of God is not getting done.

Believe me when I say this. I know from experience what I’m talking about.

Remember that if the naysayers are in the minority, then that means most of the congregation just wants to serve the Lord, be taught his Word, and learn how to grow and love and serve the Savior by serving their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Instead of expending all your energy on the naysayers, focus on the majority who want to grow and learn.

Just teach and preach and serve and love them (the majority) and let the naysayers say and do what they want while you say and do what the Lord wants. You minister grace to God’s people and let them minister anger and strife and see what the Lord does. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it’s the right thing to do. Don’t abandon the quietly faithful many for the loud and unfaithful few.

It may be that they win. You may have to leave. That’s okay (as long as they didn’t cower you into submission). It may be that the Lord took their lampstand long ago (Rev. 2:5) and no one realized it yet.

During the process, there will still be confrontations and you’ll still have to defend yourself (and be sure you know how to moderate a meeting), but it may be that as you pour your energy into the God’s people, the naysayers will either go somewhere else or the ministry of the Word will start to take root and change them. Either way, the Lord is making his church more like his Son. And along the way, he’s growing you into the servant you should be.


About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
This entry was posted in Church Ministry, Pastoral Ministry and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dealing with Church “Naysayers”

  1. Julienne says:

    First off I would like to say awesome blog!
    I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was interested to know how you center yourself
    and clear your thoughts before writing. I’ve had a hard time clearing my mind in getting
    my ideas out there. I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips?

    • Thanks, Julienne, for reading and commenting and for the nice comments. I don’t really do anything to clear my mind or center myself. My mind is usually going like crazy most of the time so I just sit down and write. Lately I’ve been writing on philosophy more in preparation for my PhD work (which is why this blog hasn’t been as active) and I have seen very little difference in the type of writing.

      Keep a notebook or a note on your phone or tablet and jot down ideas and thoughts and even whole sentences as they come to you wherever you are (I even use the voice memos app on my iPhone to collect thoughts) and then pick one of those and write.

      One thing I had to learn is the importance of “good enough.” By that I mean that a blog post is not a dissertation or academic paper; it is a blog post, nothing more (though it could certainly become something more with a little bit of work) so don’t write like you’re getting graded, just get your thoughts down and send them out. Sometimes the rough edges lead to conversations that yield further fruit.

      So simply sit down and write and then write some more and you’ll be surprised how much you can produce and how easy it will become!

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