Monday, November 26, 2007

People Who Are Easly Offended

As a minister, one will find those who are easily offended. You might preach a sermon on love and someone might say "All you preach is love, love, love. What about judgement, wrath, hell?"

And you might preach a sermon on hell and someone might say, "All you do is preach on hell, we need more sermons on love, and grace."

Or you might even dare to change the order of worship. You might have 3 songs instead of 2, a communion talk, then communion, prayer, song for communion, sermon, invitation, invitation song, scripture reading instead of prayer. You have someone who is offended because it wasn't the way they are use to doing it.

In the everyday, we also find those who are easily offended. Many times people are offended that we didn't wave when we meet them while driving or that we didn't shake their hand, or that we said something taken in entirely the wrong way.

There are always people who wear their hearts on their sleeve and those who don't like us just because they don't like us. There are also those odd few who "dare" us not to offend them until we are just walking on egg shells around them.

The questions I have are should we jump though hoops for those who are easily offended? Should the squeaky wheel get the grease? Should the loudest voice run the church? Is it the way it usually works? Should it be the way it works? Why? or why not? Have you seen it in your church? Have you seen the elders manipulated by those who were easily offended? When change takes place should we tell the congregation when and why? Would it help? Is it those who are easily offended that are holding the church back from what God wants and desires for his church to grow?

Share your thoughts.
What do you think?


Blogger cwinwc said...

As Clint Eastwood said in "Heartbreak Ridge," "Negative Marine."

Folks who wear their feelings on their sleeves should be the last folks to "control" or direct a church. They are immature people posing as the "weak brother of Rom. 14."

10:40 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

every one in the church should get a turn to plan and preach a service. of course everyone would have to draw a number out of a hat and wait their turn.

have you ever seen the bumper sticker... Get in, Sit down, Hold on, and Shut Up!...? no laughing now! hey, i saw that grin!

12:30 AM  
Blogger Jason Campbell said...

You sure know how to push the hotbuttons...

As a very new church with lots of loud opinions floating around, I have a weekly encounter with the squeeky wheels. Not just from the annoying easily offended people (which I don't mind admitting I don't listen to very much), but also from other well-meaning people. We don't have enough history yet to irritate "The Way We've Always Done It" people, so everyone has great opinions on how to do things. I've found my way through this maze time and again by majoring on the majors: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, and constantly reminding people of those majors, adamantly refusing to admit "opinion" or accumulated repetition define the way we do things or how we spend our time.

We'll see how long that lasts...

12:57 AM  
Blogger AncientWanderer said...

"When change takes place should we tell the congregation when and why?"

Yes. But it won't do any good. Communication outside the "pulpit" is an almost impossible task. But you do it cover yourself and because it's the right thing to do. Or is it because it's the right thing to do and to cover yourself?

Put which ever one offends you the least first. :)

Every now and then I have to say to the men of the congregation- "Don't make me give you the: 'The Lord's church ain't a democracy' speech."

AND NO that doesn't mean I get to rule! ;)

9:27 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:59 AM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

of course i was putting aside my own view of the church...what it is and how it changes...

(it is like hearding cats!)
everyone has their own earthly view of what church should look like...

people keep thinking of church in the earth view...when the church is actually Spiritual.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

You know it's probably not the right thing to do, but I avoid these types of people altogether, because, as you know, I've got a big weakness with saying exactly what's on my mind, unfiltered.

What I have found, though, is that when people want the truth, they come to me. They know I'll say exactly what I think. And I think many respect that about me.

I have had to learn, however, that many times I just need to keep my mouth shut until people are ready to hear what I think. It's a weakness of mine, but it's improved as of late, I think.

Take care, Preacher.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

I find this post highly offensive!

Just kidding!!

When it comes to this sort of thing, some congregations struggle with this more than others. In some places a culture of negative thinking prevails. You'd think that the members were dipped in vinegar and weaned on a sour pickle. Some act like they believe that church is a place to sit and soak and sour! If we let it, the carping will consume us. However, we can easily become jaded and appear insensitive. What to do? What to do?

I know a brother who was constantly being tied up in knots by this sort of thing. He determined to do two things:

1) Openly identify it as a problem plaguing his church and pray each time he preached or taught that everyone would be able to set aside their feelings and agendas and make personal application of God's truth their priority.

2) If/when people came to him with complaints, objections, hurt feelings and the like, he would practice reflective listening. After being certain he understood what the problem was from the other person's perspective well enough to repeat it to them, he would do so. Then he would insist on taking the matter to God in prayer at that very moment. This seemed to help everyone walk a bit more humbly with their God.

For the most part, he saw positive results to the practice.


11:53 AM  
Blogger Keith Brenton said...

Two of my favorite former bloggers are also former ministers because they spoke what they believed, which included telling influential people in their churches that they disagreed with them.

It takes guts to do the right thing, and a willingness to accept the consequences.

Patrick Mead's Tentpegs blog had a great post touching on this subject a couple of weeks back, Honesty About Mission, which includes one of my favorite blog lines ever: "There is nothing wrong with defining your church as 'Keeping the Smiths happy for three generations!' as long as you’re willing to put it on your sign out front."

12:02 PM  
Blogger Odgie said...

I think a middle ground approach might work - when someone complains to you, listen to them, reiterate what they said back to them, consider it, and then move on with a polite "I appreciate your input and I understand why you see it that way, but I/we think that this is the best way to go."

12:11 PM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...

We can't allow ourselves to be offended by someone else who is offened. A revisit to 1 Corinthians 13 and Galatians 5 will remind us of Kindness and patience.

Most of the time a reply to the offended with a soft voice, with a smile and perhaps even a hug will work wonders.

I have told people, "we don't have to agree on everything to love each other. That is not a requirement. So, on this topic we will have to agree to disagree but continue to respect and love each other for Christ's sake for after all it is about Him isn't it?"

Most people when treated with love and patience will respond in like kind. For the remainder who only want to argue, the Bible makes it clear that it is ok in extreme cases to avoid them.

His peace,
Royce Ogle

12:46 PM  
Blogger dbbjavance said...

If those who are easily offended aren't holding the church back, then it is those with influence who yield to the offended too easily. Instead they should use their influence to act with courage and vision.


3:07 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

it is not what is in the hour of the is what is living in us. we gather together, we leave, we live each day...and the Church goes with us because it lives in us and through us. it is able to move with us and through us. The Holy Spirit, the Word, God, is in us. For that one hour a week, well, what can i say if God's children do not want to worship in a certain way. But, we can all encourage one another to be accepting and loveing toward each other....we are all still learning. or you can get one of those bumper stickers and paste it on the front door.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

We need to be wise in speech, but some people will never be pleased.

4:21 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

sorry if i am getting to be a total pest...however i read this today, and though it might be in a strange way... i thought it might encouage you.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Bob Bliss said...

Kinney, here is a link to an article by Bill Hybels of Willow Creek. I don't normally read anything of his but this article came from CT's leadership email. I happen to agree with Bill Hybels about ministry leadership is not like business leadership. I think some of his comments are appropriate to your thoughts.

9:45 PM  
Blogger David Kirk said...

Every church has some people who were born offended!

10:34 AM  
Blogger ftwskies said...

Sometimes you have to see beyond the complaint to the underlying fear of change. Some people sound like they need an argument, or a lesson, when all they really need is reassurance.

Remember that for some folks, changes at church are just one of many ways they see their world shifting around them -- chapters ending, pages turning -- and they just need to be reassured that they won't be left behind or forgotten. Sometimes they just need someone to lovingly sit down with them and reminisce for a while.

-- Jim <><

2:40 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Great thoughts and question.

You as a pastor been in the middle of all that, and I've experienced nothing of that, or next to nothing.

I'd say offhand, gently challenge them in trying to help them to a different perspective. Work on this for awhile. If this doesn't work, then they need to be challenged. Depending on the nature of the case, they may need to be gently rebuked. And of course in all of this alot of prayer.

And maybe in the end, if this is disruptive enough, they need to be warned. Now when it gets that far, at least all the church leadership should be involved, though actually, if this is out in the open and this person is chronic in this, then the leadership team needs to be involved sooner than later.

But hopefully this could be just a "body" thing, resolved or worked out among the believers themselves. But is does need resolution and not to go on forever.

My ramblings. Probably too idealistic or whatever.

5:53 AM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

You can tell my gift is not bluntness, but I think there is a time and place for that- when done so in love.

5:54 AM  
Blogger jel said...

morning PM

and yes I'm an tenderheart! ;)

have a great day!

7:04 AM  
Blogger Candle (C & L) said...

A good questions -- and while we often know how it "should be" -- it isn't easy finding the balance between listening to and respecting other people -- weakor not -- I believe we need to say clearly to people who seem to have this "it's all about me" attitude - something like this --

"I understand what you are saying and what you are feeling and I would like to do things (or behave the way or say the things) you feel are best -- However - I can't --so I hope you will as I do turn these things over to God and accept that life isn't perfect by my definition of perfect -- but it is perfect to the extent that I can surrender to Christ

I also have to say that in these situations I keep reminding myself that it isn't about me -- it's about how I can best serve God and for now this "way" is my judgement as to what best meets the needs of the "whole" -- as as Spock said "sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the pain of the few)"

God Bless Charlie
p.s. Thanks for coming by and leaving your encouraging words --

10:20 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I want to thank everyone for their comments and adding to the discussion. I am blessed to be at a Church where no one wears their feelings on their sleives. We are a loving congregation, full of grace and mercy. We extend it to everyone and respect everyone within the congregation. It is wonderful. I love it.

I was just wondering how you or others would handle it in a church or daily life. Thank you so much. I believe your answers were right on target and Christ-like. God bless each and everyone of you.

In Him,
Kinney 'Preacherman' Mabry

11:55 AM  
Blogger Neva said...

I posted a comment but it must have gone to your Spam folder. Sorry!


11:58 AM  
Blogger Nedra Smith said...

Hi, I really appreciated this article. My father was a preacher, and it sometimes seemed certain brothers wanted him to push certain issues from the pulpit.

I know preaching the truth in season and out of season is a huge challenge for you guys. If y'all didn't preach, there'd be a shortage of beautiful feet...

12:29 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I hope you that the church still will move forward despite those who are easily offended. I know that God's will, will always be done.

7:27 PM  
Blogger TREY MORGAN said...

Preacherman ... this is my favorite post of yours ...


6:39 PM  
Blogger Danny Sims said...

Here's my two cents. Spend wisely!

Should we jump though hoops for those who are easily offended? No. It gives them too much power. The really loving thing would be to engage them as a person but to ignore their complaint and move on. Wise like a serpent, gentle like a dove.

Should the squeaky wheel get the grease? Duct tape works better than grease.

Should the loudest voice run the church? Is it the way it usually works? Should it be the way it works? Why? or why not? Have you seen it in your church? Dysfunctional people are run by many things in addition to volume. Money, tradition, fear, being current...

Have you seen the elders manipulated by those who were easily offended? Sure. I've seen myself do it to and I'm not an elder. We've all fallen short. However, I am blessed to work with guys who don't pay much attention to fear-driven politics.

When change takes place should we tell the congregation when and why? Would it help? Sure. Here's what a communication degree gets you: Tell them, tell them what you told them, and remind them three times. And when someone says, "I didn't know about that!" apologize and tell them again.

Is it those who are easily offended that are holding the church back from what God wants and desires for his church to grow? It sure can be. But we're held back mostly by a lack of faith. If fear wins out over faith is it that our fear is so big or that our faith is so small?

Nice post Kenny!

6:48 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I believe that when people get offended in church all of the time, they are usually critical all of the time. They are unhappy with their life and they believe that church should be ran the way they want it to be ran.

I believe that when an issue is brought forth, an offense, it should be listened to and prayed over by both parties to see where God stands on the issue. I have seen this happen in our church with church members. When someone joins we vow to each other to be open and honest and if we get offended with one another about something, including the pastor, we go to that person and we pray together.

Yes, we have had people get up and leave during the service or after a few visits because of whatever, but it was mainly because we are not doing something that they think is "church".

We are to be God pleasers, not people pleasers. We should do everything in love because God is love and be obedient as to what God desires because isn't He the reason why we have church?

9:41 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Heather thanks for adding your commments they are great.

9:14 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

A great thanks to everyone as well. I don't want to offend anyone by not not thanking all who joined in on this discussion. :-)

9:15 AM  
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