“The Angry Few” in Local Church Conflicts

I’ve seen it happen. Just a few angry or frustrated people in a church can create havoc for an entire congregation. What I’ve also seen in decades of pastoring and church consulting, though, are these things:

We shouldn’t be surprised by the few. Jesus had 12 men in his group, and one of those was a fake from the beginning. I doubt our ratio will be better than His.

The few are seldom as powerful as they think they are. Sometimes they’ve taken power when leadership voids existed, and they assume they still have that power. Or, they’re fighting to keep the power they lost when new leadership arrived.

The few are often louder in voice than they are mighty in influence. My experience is that the few are often just that—a few. They just happen to be louder than others.

The few sometimes genuinely believe in their positions. They’re fighting for something they truly believe, even if their position is invalid.

The few have often never truly been discipled. Somebody has given them a voice (and often a position and power), but without truly walking with them to follow Christ. They may not be believers at all, or they may still be baby believers.

The few often assume that their giving keeps the church afloat. More often than not, however, I’ve seen churches lose very few dollars when the few stop giving—which means that the few may not have been giving much anyway.

Some churches give up trying to change the few. The patterns of the few become so much a part of the church’s history that everybody else assumes nothing will ever change. Nobody is willing to stand against the few.

The few are still men and women for whom Jesus died. We know that truth intellectually, but we fail to think about it when anger consumes everybody. Sometimes, the few have a valid point—they just don’t know how to express it in a Christ-honoring way. Consequently, nobody listens to them because their attitude blocks their message.

The few need our humble prayers. They need our prayers because they’re still part of our local body. We must be humble about it because any of us could quickly become part of an angry few, also.

Confronting the few sometimes becomes necessary. Let’s just make sure we do so in a way that pleases the Lord. A second angry few confronting the first angry few can become war.

If your church is dealing with an angry few, take time to pray for them today. Pray as well for those church leaders who much deal directly with them.

This article originally appeared here.

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Chuck Lawless
Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at facebook.com/CLawless.

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