The Complaining Christian

I’m reading through Rubel Shelly’s latest book I Knew Jesus Before He Was a Christian (so far, so good) right now.  One of the themes the author addresses is the ways in which Christians have poorly represented Jesus.

In a passing comment, Shelly observes the ridiculous complaining of some Christians.  He writes, “To say the least, I have received much more caustic complaints from church members over a half-hour change in service times than over ethnic groups without the Gospels in their own language or people being homeless in our society” (p. 53).  I had to laugh when I read this because I know exactly what he is talking about and so does every other preacher/pastor.

Actually, I have encountered some church members who have voiced concerns about being more evangelistic to their neighbors, getting more involved ministry to the youth, helping feed the hungry, etc…  Those are the church members who are involved in the ministry of the church and they just seem to be expressing frustration because they want to do better with the calling God has given them.  These people help make congregational ministry exciting.

Then there are those other church members, the ones which Shelly is referring to.  They complain and they wine.  Sometimes (more often than some might realize) they even try to manipulate by making some threat, such as threatening to find a different church, if their complaint is not immediately addressed.  Just last week I a friend of mine was telling me about someone complaining because of their church sings too many hymns during the one-hour worship.

To be brutally honest, when I encounter such complainers, especially those resorting to manipulation, I just want to scream as I scroll my eyes towards the door.  Now, even if I could, I would not show anyone the door.

However, I do wonder how any Christian can contemplate the passion of Jesus and yet complain and manipulate.  If we could see Jesus face to face, would we really complain about a worship service going to long?  If we were able to touch the wounds on Jesus’ body like Thomas did (Jn 20:25-27), would we really threaten to leave if we don’t get our way?  If we stood before Jesus with his sharp, double-edged sword coming out of his mouth (Rev 1:16) who comes to judge his church (Rev 22:12), would we really…?

9 responses to “The Complaining Christian

  1. When my husband and I first became Christians and took on the role of Youth Leaders we were given some really good advice. Someone told us to expect one thing; criticism. We were not disappointed. This could have been totally discouraging for us as new Christians taking on a big responsibility. Fortunately we saw a bigger picture and enjoyed our time in youth ministry. Complaining seems to come with the territory of serving. I can only encourage you by saying your service to our Lord is much louder than anyone’s complaints. God bless!

    • Amy,

      Your encouragement is always welcome. Fortunately this time, it is not be who is receiving the complaints. This is more of a response to a conversation I had with a minister colleague who is receiving a lot of complaints, which does come with the territory. It seems like we miss the point of Philippians 2:1-18 sometimes. Any ways, tomorrows post will be on how to respond to complaints.

      Grace and Peace,


  2. Could it be teaching the “proper” physical CHURCH,”requirements” simply does not produce the proper fruit of the Spirit?
    Must we teach followers of the Christ to remain in step with the Spirit of
    God Himself before the fruit of the Spirit becomes evident in “church people?”

    Galatians 5

    13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

    Keep in Step with the Spirit

    16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. [of condemnation]

    19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

    25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

    • Clayton,

      I am convinced that can get so focused on teaching the so-called external markers of the church that what we end up doing is erecting a box of doctrine we call the ideal or “New Testament” church and then try to fit people into that, rather than trying to teach people to be the church. Rather than building this box, if we would teach people to be followers of Jesus then those followers not only become the church but also become the character that Jesus intends for his church which includes a life that exhibits the fruit of the Spirit.

      Grace and Peace,


  3. Pingback: Responding to the Complaining Christian | Kingdom Seeking

  4. Is there ever a time you would show a manipulative complainer to “the door”?

    • Yes…if left up to me, yes. There are some church members who become so divisive with their manipulation tactics and such that they become a cancer to the body. And Paul even seems to suggest that course of action to one the the young evangelists he was mentoring (Titus 3:10-11).

      Of course, I was asked this question by someone else in a church and when I responded “Yes”, I was told that it might be time to show me the door. :-). But I am more and more convinced that this is one of the issues that prevents churches from growing in spiritual health and mission.

      Good question.

  5. Pingback: this went thru my mind |

  6. Pingback: There’s The Door: Dealing with Conflictual Christians | Kingdom Seeking

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