The Four Worst Things I Have Seen In Church (and MORE IMPORTANT How They Could Have Been Better)
Evangelist Myers opens one of his messages with the statement, “The best of things that ever happened to me happened to me in church; the worst things I’ve ever experienced happened to me in church.” Unfortunately, his observations likely fit many people. It caused me to think of what I’d personally observed, and consider how each could have been handled in a better way.
#1 – We were in “revival” in the deep south. It was less a revival than a series of services. One midweek, I’d preached and the pastor was dismissing the congregation. Suddenly, the pastor went off – i mean really went off – raised voice, red face and veins popping – on going to play softball with a church league while the church was in revival. Turns out – one man of the 100 had missed revival to play softball.
I’m in sympathy with the pastor on the softball player’s incorrect priorities but I’m also not in favor of everybody else in the church participating in the guy’s dressing down. (I didn’t know who the fellow was, but almost everybody else knew exactly who the pastor was talking too.) It was humiliating for the fellow who had made a mistake and the pastor came off like a domineering shepherd.
Jesus taught a better model of discipline. I, even as a pastor, should go one-one-one to the person who is in error; addressing the concern with Biblical clarity. If there is no resolution of the matter then there are other steps of discipline. Confronting a thing directly gains respect; when one confronts it in a group the confrontation comes off as bullying. Those who bully people cannot also grow people.
Bad Experience #2 – While we were evangelizing in California, a small church had constant motion as people went to the rest-room. Finally, the fellow leading the service called a “time out” to allow everyone who was thirsty or needed a bathroom break to go settle the matter. That service disintegrated into chaos with us never getting anything close to order.
A better way: Practical things like how a bathroom visit affects others need to be taught to people at a time when there are not lost people present. The late George Glass Sr. often preached a sermon titled “Satan Among the Saints.” Included in his description were those who left their pew to go to the nursery or to get a drink of water. He said such interruption does nothing except cause sinner people to be distracted. Don’t take a time out – take time to teach practical things that matter.
Bad Experience #3 – Chained to Platform and Pulpit – I’ve seen this often. An opportunity is given for the church family to welcome guests but the pastor and other ministers stay on the platform and don’t go shake hands with guests. Are we afraid of people? What an opportunity to connect.
The solution here is simple: if guests are the most important people in the building then act like it. Practice your smile and how to shake hands. Get off the platform, go introduce yourself to people. We shepherds and church leaders are not “King Tut.”
Bad Experience #4 Saddest of all is the church that has no affinity for newcomers as people who would be discipled. Looked over, talked over – ignored . . . and endangered. John Wesley spoke of the danger of putting live babies in the arms of a dead corpse of a mother. New babies get special care in any home they are borne into – spiritual newborns deserve the same. God asked Job if he was around when the ostrich was created. The Lord spoke of the outstanding attributes of the ostrich; stands tall, runs fast. God also spoke of the ostrich not caring for her young, laying eggs in the dust and not worrying whether or not wild anima ls eventually destroyed the new born. This catastrophe actually prompted me to write a book You Wouldn’t Want an Ostrich for Your Mama.
I sense the church is getting serious about reaching the world. We are constantly learning from each other. What are the saddest things you have seen and what might you have done differently?