Funny, but true, over the last 10 days every one of the five pastors I spoke with all shared a concern about a difficult person in their church- and I would make six!  Thus, I thought I would share some of my insight I have learned about “hard to handle” people in the church over the last 16 years of ministry and the Biblical advice needed for their issues.

Here at Metro Praise we love you enough to tell you the truth!  Jesus said in the John 8:31-32, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”  Therefore, if you struggle in any of these areas- hear the truth and believe it!  Jesus can set you FREE!

 Eight Truths About Difficult People in the Church

1. Messy People Make Messes:  Simple, but true.  Many times messy people blame the church, the leadership, the children’s pastor, the parking lot attendant for their messes.  However, if you track with their lives you will soon find out that they are the problem.  They have had messes in their life before the church and will continue to have messes after the church… why?  Because they are “messy.”

God’s Solution to “Messy Members:” Let God clean your mess.  God will not bless your mess, but He will bless your effort to let Him clean and change you, Psalm 51.


2. Dysfunctional Christians Love Attention but Hate Instruction:  “But I don’t have enough friends at this church…” “I feel alone, no one really loves me here…”  I have heard this self pitying “cry” for attention from these kind of members only to later find out that everyone who is their “real” friend is calling them to change and live a different life.   Thus, the problem isn’t with the “church’s love” but rather with “their pride.”  They just want people to live in their dysfunction with them and call it “love.”  They forget Jesus is in the “changing people’s lives business,” not the “pity-patty-party business.”

God’s Solution to “Pity Patters:” Get rid of your “stinkin’ thinkin’!”  God loves you the way you are, but too much to let you stay that way.  Listen to the wise counsel of the church and get your life in order, Proverbs 19:20.


3. The Needy Love You Until You Say “No:”  I have seen churches give cars to members, pay for rent and bills, write checks for groceries, place unemployed members in jobs, and even take care of children during the day for no charge and then be accused by the “needy” of not giving enough!  Needy people hop from church to church looking for the next “hangout,” but run from a “hand up” because they just want an “easy ride.”

God’s Solution to the “Jimmy’s Who Take All You Give Me:” Stop living on “Barely-Get-Along Street next to Grumble Avenue” and get a J-O-B! Both in the Old and New Testaments there are requirements for those receiving charity.  You have to do something different to get different results, 1 Timothy 5:1-11.


4. People Who Always Want to Talk to the Pastor Hardly Ever Talk to Jesus: I could have just preached a ten-point-hour-long-sermon with an hour-long-altar-call with 15-prayer-workers, however, they still want to talk to me “privately.”  As if I as the pastor am going to say something different than what I just preached or pray something different than the trained altar workers.  Or give different advice than the lovingly-skilled-Life Group leaders.  No, the truth is people who always have to hear it from the “pastor privately” do so because they do not know how to hear it from “Jesus personally.”  Nothing wrong with pastoral counsel*, but Jesus sent the “Counselor”- the Holy Spirit to be man’s main source of comfort and truth.  The issue is “co-dependence on man,” instead of “dependence on God.”

God’s Solution to the “I Just Need To Hear it From the Pastor Privately:” Grow up spiritually, put on your big boy/girl spiritual pants and hit your knees at the altar and seek, knock, and ask the Father in Jesus name for your issue first.  Then trust the godly counsel of the trained leaders in the church, Matthew 7:8.

*Clarification:  Our church offers free pastoral counseling, one-on-one discipleship, and weekly Life Groups.  Therefore, the above point is not stating a point against true mentorship, but rather ungodly co-dependence on man. 


5. People Who Can Easily Walk Away From The Local Church Didn’t Have a Heart For Christ’s Church To Begin With: So many times in the past I found myself in meetings with members who wished to leave the church trying to convince them to stay.  However, at the end they would still leave anyway and I just wasted my time.  Therefore, I have learned to let people who wish to “send a letter” or “say good bye in the hallway” just walk away.  I will still give my final words, rebuke, correction, etc… if I have the time.  However, I don’t try to talk them into staying anymore.  Jesus didn’t spend the next 3hrs with the rich man trying to convince Him to stay!

God’s Solution to the “Church Hopper:” Fall in love with the Body Christ.  Have respect and honor for those who labor day and night for your spiritual success.  Stop treating the church like a harlot- hopping from one to the next and treat the local Church like the Bride of Christ- with loyalty and respect, Philippians 2:21-23.


6. Know-It-Alls Can Never Admit They Don’t Know Something Because They Know-It-All: Trying to teach a “know-it-all” is like trying to remove the sharp quills from a porcupine.  Know-it-alls love to be “speck” inspectors in the church, but never see the “plank” in their own eye.  They will give the pastor verses/advice, hog the time in small groups to help the leader teach, and turn conversations back to what they know.  However, they are generally fruitless, stubborn to serve, and quick to avoid personal mentorship.

God’s Solution to the “Know-It-All:” Be quiet.  Humble yourself and learn from others.  Stop trying to teach everyone, be the servant of all and earn the place of a teacher in the local Body of Christ, 1 Peter 5:5.


7. Rebellious People Can Never Be Alone, They Need to Divide to Justify Themselves: Rebellion and division go hand-in-hand in the church.  Rebellious people can never leave quietly, they have to have other people join with them through their gossip, hidden offense, and cowardice.  Mature Christians can “agree to disagree” and move on.  However, immature believers need to have “peers in the pew” justify their feelings.  Therefore, they are not only rebels towards the leadership of the local church, but Christ Himself who cares for the local church.

God’s Solution to the “Rebel Without a Just Cause:” Repent.  Stop making excuses for your gossip and handle your problems according to Matthew 18:15-19.  Trust your hurts and disappoints to the Lord and His Church.  You are not the Judge of the Church- Jesus is, and He loves the local Church, Romans 16:17.


8. Lazy People Work Hard to Stay Lazy: As a pastor and Bible college professor I have watched lazy people do everything but buckle down, work hard, and be responsible.  They will hang out with their friends, stay current with facebook, and be busy bodies in the church.  However,  when they are confronted to do the work at hand, stick with their responsibilities through hardships- they give up like a rope made of sand.  Plus, they blame their lack of success on the church.  As if the church is at fault because they cannot be faithful in little to be given much!

God’s Solution to the “Idle:” Make it happen- stop making excuses.  “Your momma, your daddy, your friends, your boss, your pastor, your past, your dog….” isn’t to blame when Jesus lives on the inside of you (Philippians 4:13).  Your biggest enemy is the person you see in the mirror.  Own your mistakes and work hard daily to change them with the power of the Holy Spirit.  Every great person in life had to work hard consistently for what they have- you will have to do the same in Jesus name, Hebrews 6:11-13.