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One Way to Stop Criticism in Its Tracks

Yesterday, my sweet friend and pastor’s wife posted this comment on our Facebook page:

Just gotta vent—as I sit here at our ministry tent between services, the two older people sitting next to me have done nothing but bad-mouth church leadership, talk about how they hate the music and all the other people who don’t like things, and how they pray God will make the leadership realize what they’re doing. It’s all I can do not to jump up and say something. They’re about to get a sarcastic, “Oh, you feel that way—sorry!”

Ever been there?

Overheard negative conversations? Or witnessed critical chatter online?

I certainly have. Sometimes I’ve quietly fumed.

Other times I’ve spoken up and gotten those conversations stopped … quickly.

A few months ago, I noticed a long line of conversation on our church’s FB page. A lady who attended another church in town was ripping our church to bits. Lots of people were going back and forth with her.

I read through that long feed and decided I’d seen enough. What that little lady didn’t know is Jud and I are friends with her senior pastor and his wife. They are wonderful. They are nothing but supportive and encouraging … and we are huge cheerleaders for them as well.

So, I jumped in on the conversation and said: “So-and-so, my husband and I are good friends with your pastor and his wife. They are wonderful people, and you attend a wonderful church. I am so thankful there are so many different churches here in town because there are so many people who need to encounter Jesus. Thankfully, we are all on the same team trying to reach people in our own unique way.”

That’s it. That’s all I said.

And you know what happened? Absolutely nothing.

Complete silence. Everything stopped. Totally ceased.

It really took so little for me to get a whole bunch of negativity shut down.

And if it takes so little, why then am I so hesitant to jump in and stop those negative spirals when I hear them? Maybe it’s because I just don’t know what to say on the spot.

So, if it just takes a few words interjected into critical conversations, wouldn’t it be great to gather up a small collection of those words to stick in our back pocket ready to pull out next time this kind of situation happens?

Here’s the scenario: You, like my friend, overhear conversation bad-mouthing your church leadership. What, if anything, would you say?  

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loriwilhite@churchleaders.com'
Lori Wilhite serves alongside her husband Jud who is the Senior Pastor at Central in Las Vegas. They love getting to be part of God changing Sin City into Grace City. She is the founder of Leading and Loving It.