Posts Tagged ‘where to confront a pastor’

Imagine that you’re enjoying a family get-together on Father’s Day, when suddenly, your brother decides to confront you about a remark you made several hours earlier – only he does it in front of your entire family.

You might feel defensive responding in front of others.  Your brother might engage in theatrics to put you on the spot.  Various members of your family might immediately take sides.  The entire confrontation could divide your family and result in one big mess.

So rather than responding in front of your family, the wiser course might be to say, “Can we discuss this matter in private rather than in front of the entire family?”

The implication underlying Matthew 18:15-17 is that your brother – in this case, your pastor – has said or done something that threatens to harm your relationship, or even his ministry.   Nowhere in Matthew 18:15-17 are pastors or church leaders excluded from Jesus’ directives.

Matthew 18:15 does not say: “If your brother sins against you, ask someone else to confront the offender.”

And it does not say, “If your brother sins against you, tell everyone but your brother how much he hurt you.”

And if you’re a member of a church board, this verse does not say, “If your brother sins against you, ask the board chairman to confront the pastor.”

And nowhere does Jesus say, “If you’re upset with your pastor, send him an email and let him know what you really think.”

No, if you heard the pastor say something sinful, or you saw him do something wrong, it’s your job to confront the pastor – or you need to let it go.

But if it’s serious enough that you can’t let it go, then work up your courage and set up a one-on-one meeting with your pastor as soon as possible.

*When should you have the meeting?

One Sunday in my first pastorate, I tried serving communion a different way.  The following Sunday, a board member reprimanded me for my little experiment – five minutes before the following Sunday’s service in the men’s bathroom.

The very worst times to have a confrontation with your pastor are right before and directly after a service where he’s preaching.

Before the service, the pastor will be focused on his message and may not take your concerns seriously.

After the service, the pastor will have expended an enormous amount of adrenaline and may not be in full control of his emotions.

You want to speak with your pastor when he’s at his best, not when he’s at his worst.

A pastor friend once surveyed his colleagues and discovered that the optimal day to confront a pastor was on a Tuesday.  This makes sense because the pastor has recovered from his adrenaline loss the previous Sunday and is just beginning to focus on his message for the following Sunday.

When I was a pastor, my preference was for individuals to call and make an appointment with me.  Depending upon that person’s identity, we’d agree on a meeting place together.

*Where should you have the meeting?

If you meet in the pastor’s study at church, you’re on his turf, and he can control the environment … but in some cases, that might be the only possible place.  A neutral room at the church might work as well.

If you invite the pastor to your house, he may become wary and not come at all.

My preference – if possible – was to have a tough meeting in a public place (like a restaurant) where both parties had to be on good behavior.

It’s extremely difficult for most people to confront their pastor about an offense.  Most people prefer to let things go or tell others how they feel.

But if you really love your pastor – and you want him to change – confronting him may be something that God is calling you to do.

And nobody said that obeying God would be easy.


The article you have just read is adapted from an e-book I’m writing for church boards (and decision makers) who are frustrated with their pastor and are exploring the possibility of terminating him.

I’m about 80% done with the first draft and welcome your comments about what I’ve written.




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