What to do when you hate your church

http://www.sxc.hu/profile/cynthiab

1. Realize you probably don’t hate your church.
Someone may have offended or hurt you personally but it is highly unlikely that you do in fact hate your church. You’re probably unhappy with an individual or the overall direction (or lack there of) of your church, but you probably don’t hate your church.

2. Find a different word than hate
I think hate is a strong word because we associate it with racism, ethnic cleansing and other inexcusable actions. Hate is lack of tolerance for a position or person. For instance, I hate abortion. Some people may disagree with me but it’s something I hate. I also hate the New England Patriots. Do you see how silly the word hate is now? We use it to describe major issues and minor ones.

Our vocabulary is insufficient so we think we hate our church. Tweet this

Take the time to figure out what really upsets you and figure out a different way to phrase it.

Instead of “I hate our worship music.” you could say “I think we should simplify our worship so there are less moving parts and that might improve its quality.” You don’t hate your worship because that music is sung to praise the same God you love. What you don’t like is the style or the lack of enthusiasm or the song choices. Find a more mature way to explain your feelings than to use the word “hate” every time you don’t like something.

3. Talk to people at your church; members and paid staff
First, email is not talking. Get face to face with someone. This idea is dangerous because people who don’t like their church are often already talking to people in their church. They’re gossiping. They’re not being constructive in their conversations.

If you’re not talking to the person who can change the situation you’re gossiping. Tweet this

Seek out people to get their opinion on the issues that bother you and ask them how you can help. Seek to be part of the overall conversation that helps improve the situation, not pollutes it. Offer your encouragement, suggestions and most of all your help. Be part of the solution instead of feeding the problem with unhealthy words.

We should treat family differently
I’ve felt this way about my current church and others that I’ve attended. It’s natural and it’s also unhealthy if you and I don’t handle it appropriately. Some would just tell you to go pray about it but frankly I think it’s unlikely our hearts and minds will be turned to a better place by simply praying for the topic. I think we should pray for direction, have healthy conversations and take action based on those conversations. We’re too picky with our church experience.

To hate your church is to hate yourself so don’t hate either. Tweet This

Church needs to be viewed more as a family than a concert. You stick with a family through good and bad. If the concert is lame you complain about it on Facebook. If you’re not satisfied with your experience then change it but don’t spend precious time and energy blaming others. It’s your family so fix your family, starting with your own attitude.

[note]Have you ever taken healthy steps to fix something at your church? Ever done it completely wrong?[/note]

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  • http://www.dadrenaline.com Chris Pilon

    Andy, our church has been doing something for the last ten years or so where we get together on a Friday night and Saturday morning and have a “Re-Focus”. It’s a time to get together and discuss the direction of the church and to air any issues. What we’ve seen are powerful discussion surrounding our mission but we’ve also seen the little “nitpicky” things addressed before they become bigger church changing issues. We do this every few years and I believe it has been a great way for us to stay focused on our mission to bring more people to Christ.

    • Andy Traub

      Love that Chris. Love it.

  • http://www.OneSolutionFor.Me Trey Smith

    Great post Andy! I heard a sermon a couple of years ago where the pastor sincerely told the congregation that if there was something going on at church that they did not like, “don’t leave, fix it.” My wife and I recently took that approach and actually talked to someone that could make the changes that we believe needed to happen within our church. An amazing thing happened, they were receptive and said it was an answer to prayer to have us come to them with our concerns, observations AND potential solutions. I like Chris’s comment, I also will be bringing that up next time I meet with our church staff.

  • John

    Great post! Where I don’t see it working is when you’re the pastor of a
    the church. What do you do when you wouldn’t go to the church that you’re the pastor of? I pastor a Baptist church and I wouldn’t go there if I wasn’t the pastor. The things I don’t like haven’t changed for over 100 years and 3 pastors in the last 5 years tried to change things and all got the boot. There are people in comfy positions of power with a lot invested and will not let go. My dream is to only have one service on a Sunday rather than two so that I can go to another church to worship as a ‘punter’…..Saying that, with a bit of luck in a few years the LORD will call me out of where I’m at and if I’m blessed enough I might end up in a Vineyard church! Peace yawl!

    • http://www.TakePermission.com Andy Traub

      I think you’re being dishonest with your co-workers and congregation. I suggest you search the Scriptures for how to deal with conflict and then have some. Conflict is healthy. Conflict communicates trust. Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team is a great place for you to start.

    • http://www.TakePermission.com Andy Traub

      I think you’re being dishonest with your co-workers and congregation. I suggest you search the Scriptures for how to deal with conflict and then have some. Conflict is healthy. Conflict communicates trust. Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team is a great place for you to start.

  • http://www.TakePermission.com Andy Traub

    Sounds like a great example of conflict being a healthy step in a relationship. I hope you can meet with your church’s staff and have those conversations.

  • http://www.TakePermission.com Andy Traub

    Sounds like a great example of conflict being a healthy step in a relationship. I hope you can meet with your church’s staff and have those conversations.

  • Michelle Durbin

    I came to this site because my Church has been going through a lot of major changes over the past year or so and each one is worse than the one before. To explain, we were a very small church that was on the verge of dying out… around 20-30 people were left, so a larger church from a neighboring city came in to help. But they didn’t stop at helping, they have completely taken over the church and have been set on turning it to something unrecognizable. First they changed the way songs were played (this seems like a minor complaint, but it is very hard for me to change a tempo on a song that I have been singing for years or sing along with on the radio). Then they started lowering our overall standards of dress, they believe that dressing up for church makes visitors feel uncomfortable… so even the preachers wear jeans and t-shirts. Then another church in our city needed a new building, while our church needed members…. so we were to merge with them. Many of us hoped that meant the outside influence would leave… Nope! They got worse! Now they say its 3 churches merged into one… while one of them is only a satellite church. Mind you, we were never consulted on any of these changes, just informed that they were happening and left to deal with it. After the merge, we were informed our church was changing it’s name to the same as the one from the other city, that service was going to start an hour later (to accommodate people who might come to a later service, totally disregarding the people who already go), and we now had 3 pastors…. the 2 that merged were going to HELP the one from the church that only is partially there to begin with. Now, they have decided that the church building is no longer where we will have church services. For many years, our church had a school in the building behind the church that was discontinued around 8 years ago, due to lack of funds. This building houses the gymnasium and banquet hall and also serves for our food pantry and childrens church ministries. We are now having church in the gym! No a/c, no heat, the bathrooms leave a lot to be desired, they sunk thousands of dollars into making a new platform, and buying chairs that haven’t even arrived yet! Many of the original church members have left, I am torn! I hate…. and I really do mean HATE the way the church has gone, but it is beyond my control. I want to leave, but I don’t want to leave…. I am at a loss! I don’t enjoy going to church anymore and can’t seem to find God when I do. I think I am having trouble leaving because I still love the people… I even love the people from the merged church, just can’t stand the people from the outside church. But it doesn’t feel like my church anymore and I am miserable there.

    • http://www.TakePermission.com Andy Traub

      I hope you can have an honest conversation with your church family about this. The truth sets us free so have that conversation.