Thursday, October 22, 2015

Top Ten Craziest Things Ever Said to Me at a Church Service

The internet is full of amusing lists of things heard by pastors and church leaders. For example, Thom Rainer’s lists are HERE and HERE.  Chuck Lawless has shared a list of things heard during church consultations HERE. Joe McKeever contributes 59…yes, 59…things not to say to a preacher HERE. Mark Altrogge encourages folks to avoid saying these things to your pastor after he preaches on Sunday HERE. And, Megan Bailey contributes 11 weird things said to pastors HERE. I decided that, after twenty years of ministry, it was time for me to share a "Top Ten" list of my own.    

I suspect that most of these comments are not intended to be hurtful or insensitive by the person speaking. But, you know how it goes. A person starts talking and ends up saying something they never intended. The pastor, of course, has to be “courteous” in how such ill-timed (or ill-conceived) comments are received. With that caveat made, allow me to share the ten craziest things I’ve ever had said to me at a church service. Some are amusing. Some are disturbing. Some are a blessing. Names of those involved have been “redacted” for the sake of all involved. And, if, by some chance, you happen to be the person who uttered one of these comments, know that I believe you had the very best of intentions with your comment. 

So, here they are...counting down to #1....

10.  “Well, how long do you figure you’ll be here?”
I got this comment 3 weeks after arriving at a new church. I’m still not sure if the person was asking because they wanted me to stay or they were already tired of me.

9. “This will probably be our last Sunday here. Nothing personal, but your preaching is just not our style.”
Comments like this are always hard to hear and are heartbreaking to a pastor. It was, in fact, their last Sunday.

8. “I know what the Bible says; I just don’t think it is right.”
I heard this one after preaching a message on the exclusivity of salvation in Christ alone. The person did not think it was fair that a person needed to trust in Jesus to go to heaven, although they understood that is exactly what the Bible teaches.

7. “Pastors come and go, but the church stays the same.”
I heard this comment from a key leader after I suggested that there were a few things we could do to bring in some new families. It was rather….disheartening.

6. “Is there a reason you don’t preach from a real Bible?”
You can probably guess, but I heard this from someone who really liked the King James Version of the Bible. After the sermon they approached me with this question.

5. “Is the sermon today going to be good?”
The person making this comment was concerned that their family members hear a “really good” sermon because “they needed it.” So, they asked this question of me just before the service. I did not hear back as to whether the sermon was good.

4. “I really wish we would never sing that song again. It’s not biblical.”
The strange thing about this comment…it was made about a song that is taken directly…directly….from a passage of Scripture. Yeah, we were singing Scripture that, apparently, was not biblical.

3. “At my last church some folks tried to kill the pastor, but I don’t think this church is like that.”
This comment came to me early on in my tenure at a new church. I was really glad to know the one sharing this tidbit of information thought better of the church I was serving.

And, now….tied for the craziest thing I’ve ever heard….BOTH of these were shared with me during the song service just prior to my ascending to the pulpit to preach. Oddly enough, they were shared with me within three weeks of each other.

1. “I just wanted you to know that the guy on the back row is contemplating suicide. So, be sure to make it a good one.”
No pressure there.

1. “The toilet in the women’s bathroom is running. I thought you should know.”
I have no idea why I needed to know or what I was supposed to do about it.

I hope you “enjoyed” reading these as much I have “enjoyed” sharing them. It actually feels kinda good to have gotten it off my chest. 

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