How many complaints are you prepared to hear?

No one likes hearing complaints, even when we know they come from a good place and the person complaining is trying to do it for the church’s good… but how many are you prepared for. 

I’d like to assume that most godly positive Christians might have cause to suggest or raise a significant issue once ever 12 months. That seems fair, right?

So if you had a church of 55 people… that would be more that one complaint a week. A church of 200 people would be 4 complaints per week. 

If these people truly have the church and the kingdom at heart, that’s a lot of listening and understanding and explaining to do. 

And that’s why churches need really clear reasons for doing the things they’re doing. It helps when dealing with the always new issues being raised. 

What to say when you’re told that “some people” are unhappy…

He asks you over to the side of the room for a quite chat. With grave concerns in his eyes, he tells you that “some people” (or worse, “lots of people”) have expressed some discontent about something you’ve said or done. How should you respond?

First, in your heart, remember that you can’t please everyone… not even yourself. And you’ll always make mistakes. So whether for good reasons or bad, some people will always be unhappy. You might have something else to repent of, or you might not. So don’t get too worried.

Next, respond with a simple question, void of anger, bitterness, or fear… “Who?” or “Which people?”

If he doesn’t tell you WHO, ask him, “Exactly how many? Count them.”

I’ve never heard a complaint from “lot’s of people” that’s ended up with any more than 5 individuals… including the person who raised it. That’s their version of “a lot”.

So, simply end the conversation with a pleasant and unemotional voice. “Bob, there’s a good chance those people have already come and chatted to me, in which case they shouldn’t now be talking to you. Encourage them to come back and talk to me. If they haven’t talked to me about something I’ve done, be a good servant of Christ and discourage them from talking to you, and encourage them to come and raise it with me. But Bob, you need to understand, I’m not going to listen to 2nd hand complaints – especially from people who won’t tell me their name.”


Agree with the whining ones – because they’re right

I hate complaining and grumbling. I get the whole #firstworldproblem joke, but sometimes find it hard to laugh at. The petty whining that goes around!! Ugh!

But there’s something to be redeemed in it. Everything people whinge about is probably something that won’t be in paradise when we’re raised with Jesus in glory. So you stubbed your toe? Guess that won’t happen in heaven – there’s no more pain! So you didn’t get first place, or a HD like you wanted? Well there’s no crying in heaven so you’ll feel better then. So you forgot to get something from the shops and now you have to make a second trip – well in glory you’ll be perfect and won’t make silly mistakes.

So that’s my new response to complaining and grumbling… saying, “So it sounds like what you’re saying is that you really can’t wait for Jesus to return and give you your undeserved inheritance so this massive problem will go away? Is that what you’re saying?”

The mathematics of normal complaints

A common experience among growing churches is they experience a growing number of complaints from “within”. This is often given as anecdotal evidence that larger churches don’t work in australia.
However, there’s some simple reasons for this.
Consider how often a person or couple might feel like raising an issue with their pastor… My guess is (on average) about once every 2 years. That is, on average, a person will go 2 years before they find they have such a concern or question about how things are they they will raise it with their pastoral staff or elders.
If you had a church of 50, that’s only 1 “issue” every 2 weeks. In a church of 100 that’s about 1 issue or question per week. In a church of 500, that’s 5 issues every week.
So, do you go? Less than that? More than that?
Either way, Praise God!