"We're here because our last church brought up tithing every week. That just makes us uncomfortable." [We take an offering every service and we're a tithing church. It amazes me that something people are chasing after for 40-50 hours a week (money, income) you get upset about if your pastor talks about for a few minutes before he/she takes the offering. As they say, a person's wallet is the last thing to get saved.]
"We're here because the worship at our church became a show and we just couldn't take it anymore." [What's going to happen when you get familiar with our worship team and start judging the way they move/act and assume the condition of their hearts by the way they jump, cry, close their eyes, wave their hands, or lack thereof?]
"We're here because we can't worship at our last church the way the Lord was leading us to. The leadership there is just too controlling." [Well, if you are going to twirl around with ribbons from JoAnn Fabrics on a dowel stick and distract people by behaving more like a fairy godmother than a worshipper and quote prophecies from the Elijah List in between or after our worship songs, realize you might not worship "like the Lord is leading you to do" here either.]"We're here because the pastor at our last church just didn't spend enough time with us or call us enough." [What's going to happen when I don't hang out enough with you and concern myself more with winning souls in the community that are going to hell?]
"We're here because we're hurt that the staff in our previous church just didn't handle things right and there were personality clashes..." [What's going to happen when you don't like the way we handle something? We don't plan on checking with you every time we plan to do something.]
"We're here because our last pastor made a big mistake when he/she did _____________________________." [What's going to happen when I make a mistake? I have made at least one before and I'm relatively sure I may make another one again in the not too distant future.]
"We're here because our last church had problems." [What's going to happen when you see one of the problems of our church? No church is perfect and if you find one, don't go to one - you'll ruin it!"]
"We're here because the music at our last church was too loud." [When the devil fell from heaven, two things fell with him - sound systems and daytimers. Sometimes our sound gets too loud. What are you going to do? Go over to the Church of God, Vineyard Church or First Assembly when it does? Just to save you time, realize theirs may get loud on any given Sunday too. If you are looking for somewhere that doesn't, check out the Church of Christ - they don't have any instruments although they may have a singer or two that may get right behind you and sing too loud.]
"We're here because our last church doesn't do the worship songs we like." [Last time I checked, they weren't supposed to do the songs for you. Our goal here is to select and direct our songs toward God, so you might want to consider that before making this your home church.]
"We're here because our last pastor just wasn't real enough. I always felt like he/she had a wall up and just wasn't transparent enough." [Well, I've been to counseling three times and don't care who knows it, and I may just tell the whole church I've had an incredibly "sucky" day. Are you going to leave then because you think I let it all hang out too much?]
"We're here because our other church expected too much out of people. We have full time jobs and families and all our other pastor talked about was serving. We work 40 hours a week and just can't do that in 'this season' of our lives." [Unfortunately for you, we're not just a tithing church, we're a serving church too. If you want a place to hide with no expecations this isn't it. We're pretty serious about reaching our community and our world here and that takes everybody in the family actually doing something.]
"We're here because our last pastors didn't become our best friends like we hoped for." [With "friends" like you your last pastor doesn't need enemies. Am I going to be the next pastor you are trash talking?]
Hearing these kinds of things would be laughable if they weren't so sad. It is any wonder why the majority of American churches are on the decline? With church shopping and hopping at an all time high and the majority of growth coming through Christians shuffling around , we can see how this mentality is just killing many if not most churches, and causing us to waste far too much precious time. This type of behavior is why I so enjoy striving to grow the church by conversion.
Many pastors who are so excited about more warm bodies in the seats just beam when somebody says, "your church is so great compared to our last one!" I have to be honest, I get scared when I hear somebody say that. Because I realize, I'll only be great for so long, until they get disillusioned with us and move on to the next "great church" that is so much better than us.
As a pastor, you have to develop a resilience to rejection of you and your church because from at least 50% of Christians out there, this is what you will face. I have learned over the years to strive for the accolades of God and not take any joy whatsoever in hearing that I or my church are "so great" compared to somebody or somewhere else. Rather, I honestly pray for both the people I am hearing that from, and those they are talking about. Because I realize those who are telling me that need to grow and need help. For some reason they have never grasped the importance of being planted in order to flourish. Please understand, I am not talking about people who are genuinely in abusive churches, or those who are somewhere that moral failures are happening, or where the Word of God is not preached, or salvation is not presented. No, in my comments here I am referring to good Bible believing, teaching, preaching churches with good pastors who are just trying their best to grow people to a deeper walk with God. So I pray that they would stop this merry go round of change in their lives and get rooted. At the same time, I know the pastors and churches they are talking about are hurting. They tried to bring those people to maturity. They tried to bring them into the fullness of God. They tried to be a good pastor, but somewhere along the line, it just wasn't enough. And now the cycle is starting all over again.
Lord, help us. Somebody needs to stop this dysfunctional cycle and the acceptance by pastors of this "counterfeit praise" that makes them feel so good inside when it's happening. Many eat it like candy when in reality - they are being perfectly set up for a fall.