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Posts Tagged ‘problem people at church’

After visiting 50 or so churches over the past several years, I have come to a startling conclusion:

You’ll find the same problem people in every church … they just have different faces and names.

If you stay in the same church for years, you may not understand this phenomenon, but it’s all too real … and would make a great doctoral study!

Let me share five kinds of people you’ll find in every church … three this time, two next time:

First, you’ll find the Protestant Pope.  No puffs of white smoke emerged from the church chimney when this person assumed leadership.  No cardinals dressed in red voted him into office.

But every Protestant church seems to have its own unelected, unofficial lay Pope.

This person once sensed God calling him into ministry.  He may have gone to Bible school or seminary.  Many of these popes are proudly self-taught.

But while they may know Scripture and theology … and the history of their particular church … this does not mean they know how everything at their church should be done.

But boy, do they have an opinion on matters … along with a handful of followers who genuflect at their every utterance.

There are benevolent popes … like the one who encouraged me as a seminarian and gave me cassettes of Christian speakers along with assorted books.

And there are dictatorial popes … like the one who led his Sunday School class out of the church to form a new church … hoping he would become its pastor.  (Didn’t fly.)

While it’s usually wise for the lead pastor to form a relationship with this local church pontiff, pastors tend to be wary of popes … and with good reason.

Who is the unelected Pope at your church?

Second, you’ll find the saboteur.  This person delights in wrecking the plans of a church’s top leaders.

I’ve been watching 43-year-old episodes of the TV show Mission Impossible recently.  (Productive values aside … a lot of their sets look like they’re from the back buildings at the Paramount lot … the show could be fun.)

The missions that Jim Phelps and his team always accepted usually had to do with sabotaging the plans of some third world dictator.  They were to steal a notebook … stage a small coup … capture a list … usually right under the nose of the bad guys.

The MIF team were saboteurs … but they did it to preserve freedom.

However, a local church saboteur seeks to enslave churchgoers.

Their mission … and they always accept it … is to thwart the plans of the lead pastor in any way possible.

Many years ago, the leaders at my church all agreed on a course of action.  I asked a staffer to complete an assignment by a certain deadline.

This person not only failed to carry out the assignment … they collaborated with someone else to sabotage the whole project.

They didn’t agree with the project … and neither did their small group of friends … so they resisted in a passive-aggressive fashion.  (Someone also needs to do a doctoral study on the use of passive-aggressiveness among Christians.)

Saboteurs can be former pastors … or staff members … or office managers … or a pastor’s predecessors.

Or board members.

Saboteurs usually don’t have ideas of their own for growing a ministry … they just seek to slow or stop the pastor’s ideas.

It’s one thing to tell a pastor, “I’m not convinced this is the best way to handle this situation.  Here’s my idea.”

It’s another thing to feign support while in the pastor’s presence and then seek to undermine his God-given vision in the church parking lot.

Who are the saboteurs in your church?

Third, you’ll find Mr. Businessman.  This person either runs their own business or has attained a prominent position in their own company.

This person is convinced that the church needs to be run like a secular business … where decisions are made quickly, unproductive leaders are removed, and money is the bottom line.

And for Mr. Businessman, the church is all about money.

If lives are changed, but the church is falling behind the budget, Mr. Businessman deems the church … and the pastor … a failure.

If the budget is being reached, but little at church is happening, Mr. Businessman views the church as a qualified success.

I’ve searched the New Testament in vain for even one church whose value system was based on this business approach.

Years ago, Christian leader Fred Smith said that a church is not a business … but it shouldn’t be run like a bad business.  I agree.

I thank God for all the godly and wise businesspeople I’ve met in my 36 years of church ministry.  I admired their expertise and their knowledge of high finance.

But the best business leaders I’ve worked with (a) put God first in their lives, (b) apply Scripture to their own lives, (c) are generous givers, (d) support their pastor, and (e) know that money is a tool … not a god.

The worst business leaders I’ve worked with (a) put money first, (b) refuse to support their pastor, (c) give little to the ministry, (d) fail to apply Scripture to life, and (e) put God 3rd or 6th or 8th in their lives, not first.

Who is Mr. Businessman at your church?

Before I compose my next article … I’m open to taking nominations online.

What kind of problem people will you find in every church?

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