As a pastor, I chat with a lot of other pastors. I go to conferences and I read the books of other pastors. As you engage them, you hear many different thoughts about what it is like to pastor and lead a certain church. But there are certain common strands that it seems like most shepherding churches feel and think, no matter where they serve and how many they serve. There are certain pet peeves that many, not all, but many pastors have regarding their care for people. Before I give the list, let me make a few comments. Just because many pastors, even myself, feel this way about some or all of these, it does not make us right. Every job has frustrations and we signed up for some of these. Please do not perceive this post as complaining – just communicating what is really thought by many. Maybe seeing these would help you address one personally or just empathize with your pastoral team.
Here is what drives us crazy:
- That you get up and down during the message – We get that not every talk or teacher can hold your attention for 30-40 minutes. But you manage to stay seated at the terrible movie you saw or during a boring sports event.
- That you are consistently late – Services and group are pretty much the same time every week. We know there are reasons and exceptions and seasons, but come on. Every week folks are walking into our services 20 minutes late.
- That you pack yourself up at the end of the notes – If the person is still talking, they must feel like what they are sharing is worthwhile. There are thoughts and ideas outside of the notes that could impact your life. We are pretty sure you would not do that at a talk with your CEO or that you would want folks to do that to you.
- That you do not tend to your disruptive child – I could get in a lot of trouble with this one. But as I talk to many teaching pastors, this just seems to be an ongoing issue. There is much that needs to be said to do this topic justice, but I will just say a few things. If you do not trust the children’s ministry at your church, share that. I bet the children’s ministry would partner with you so you could have your trust level raised. If you are going to bring your kid or kids in, if they are being a distraction to the person teaching or the folks around you, please graciously and quickly address it.
- That you talk during parts of a service – Songs, videos, dramas, announcements and so on are put into the service for a reason. They are not platforms to chat about the game from last night or to catch up on the week.
- That you show up to service once a month – We believe there is so much for you in our services, groups and ministries that we are sad that you are not there. It is not a spirit of we want to yell at you. We really feel you are missing out on what is best for you and your family.
- That you do not return calls, texts or email – We just want you to be honest. If you are leaving or have left, just tell us. You will not be the first or the last. We want to extend grace and pray and encourage, but we can not do that when you avoid us like we’re a telemarketer. Keep in mind, we are trying to walk a line of being accused of not caring because we did not reach out. We like short responses – even if they hurt or are hard to hear.
As a sign language interpreter, distractions are the bane of my existence! I have interpreted in several church/religious venues and by far – the church setting has been among the worst for distractions. Grace Fellowship does a phenomenal job of minimizing the distractions by allowing interpreters to be up front (on stage), but I have been in many places where people walk between the interpreter and deaf worshipers constantly. This really inhibits the message coming through clearly. Often deaf people tell me they did not understand anything during the service because of these kinds of distractions. Things like this make it difficult for the Holy Spirit to work in people’s hearts and lives. What a shame for folks to show up for a service and miss what could be a life changing message because of “stuff” getting in the way. Please don’t take my comments as a complaint at all – I am just saying with all the love in my heart, please, let’s be aware of our environment and make sure we are not hindering someone else from receiving what they need to “hear”.