In an earlier post, called “Complainers Care“, I dealt with the issue of a pastor ousting a member who won’t “fall in line” with their “spiritual authority.” I suggested the church should have a method for hearing the input of the members.  Not that the church needs to follow everything suggested, but there needs to be a process that those with honest suggestions are listened to.

Some would simply fire them from membership.  This is the misinterpretation of Jim Collins (Good to Great) to get them “off the bus.”  I know of staff members replaced from the pulpit (“today is brother Jim’s last day”) or their replacement hired before the staff member resigned.

Rather, Collins says people are not in the right seats, and we need to let people do what they do best.  In Disaster Relief operations, the unit leader in a crisis situation is supposed to be the person with the most expertise, not necessarily the most senior person on site.

We recently passed out 1100 boxes of food to those in need in one day.  It was a classic disaster distribution scenario.  it began with the church leadership making grand pronouncements, followed by the disaster response leadership taking ownership of the process to pass out of the food.  I’m on the DR leadership team, and we planned our best plan and then showed it to the volunteers.  There were several suggestions, some we had heard, and some we could not use for legal or logistical reasons. But some were brilliant modifications to aspects of the plan.  We split the event into a morning and an afternoon session, but even so were told to expect 3 hours to clear the line each session.  But with the adjustments made by the volunteers, no one waited more than 30 minutes, and all recipients left with smiles on their faces.  It was by all accounts a rousing success, because we were willing to listen and adjust.

I have to admit there are times a person doesn’t really want the best for the church as a whole, but simply wants to complain, or themselves to be in charge and doing something else, often for selfish reasons.  This is much the same as King David’s son Absolam, sitting at the city gate stirring up trouble by suggesting the King was out of touch and life would be better with him in charge.  To those people, you still need to sit and listen to what they are saying.   But if they are operating from selfish motives, you should invoke Matthew 18:15-16 and take steps to correct their behavior and quiet the confusion that doesn’t match the common purpose of the congregation.

The bottom line is that the pastor and deacons and elders must shepherd the congregation, listening to their concerns and helping them grow in understanding and in grace.  It may be they are misplaced in service and need help finding proper expression of their service.  That is the job of the church leadership, and is the only solution to complainers that will truly strengthen the vibrancy of the church.

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