To be honest, I’ve been blessed. In all the churches where I’ve served as pastor or interim pastor, most of my members have been great people. Sometimes, though, a church member can be downright mean. Based on our Lawless Group interviews and surveys over the years, here are some of the reasons church members can be mean:
1. All church members are still people. That’s not an excuse for meanness, though; it’s just an admission of reality. Even saved people sometimes act like sinners when the right button gets pushed.
2. Some are nonbelievers. Even Jesus had one in His immediate group of 12 who was never a believer, and I doubt our churches will do better than Jesus did. Lost people will always act like lost people eventually—even when they don’t think they’re lost.
3. Many are undiscipled. Too many churches bring people into the local congregation, but then do nothing to disciple them. The new believers remain babies in Christ, even when they’ve been in the church for years. Usually, they whine a lot.
4. Some are carrying burdens alone. Often, we don’t know what burdens others bear because we choose to carry our own pain alone. The father who can’t find a job…the parents whose child has been arrested…the teen whose parents have just split up…the faithful member who is being abused…sometimes the anguish of life weighs so heavy on us that our tempers are short and our words are volatile.
5. Some were given authority far too early. When our churches give positions to those who haven’t yet grown (and many churches do that, granting positions on the basis of years in the church rather than on maturity in the faith), we shouldn’t be surprised when they fight to protect their toys. That’s what kids do.
6. Some are living in sin. For anyone who is a true believer, the conviction of sin cuts deeply—but that doesn’t always result in immediate repentance. Church members who remain in their sin for any length of time sometimes turn their conviction on others. Judging somebody else at least briefly turns their attention from their own sin.