When the church bully happens to be the pastor

Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion but voluntarily, according to the will of God;  not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;  nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” (I Peter 5:2-3).

We have written extensively on this website about church members who take the reins of the church and call the shots, who bully parishioners and pastors alike.  But a friend wrote, “What are we to do when the bully is the pastor?”

“What does your pastor do?” I asked him.

His bullying pastor demands his way in everything, tolerates no dissent, and ousts anyone not obeying him.  He intimidates church members and dominates the other ministers.  His opinion is the only one that counts.

We could wish it were a rare phenomenon.  It isn’t.

The definitive bully found in Scripture is Diotrephes.  In III John, we read, “I wrote something to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves the preeminence (“loves to be first among them” (NASB), does not accept what we say…. unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, neither does he himself receive the brethren, and he forbids those who desire to do so, and puts them out of the church.”

That’s the bully:  loving preeminence, rejecting outside interference, bringing accusation against the opposition, and putting people out of the church when they oppose him.

 We’re thankful the New Testament churches had these problems

There’s a certain degree of comfort from knowing that the problems churches experience today are not new, not signs the church is going to the devil or evidence we’re being swamped by the world.  The problems of division and strife (see I Corinthians), heresies (see Galatians), and petty egotism (III John) have been with us from the beginning.

This forever prevents us from piously withdrawing from today’s churches experiencing the same internal strife while claiming that they no longer do God’s will.  There are more churches at this moment in time doing great work for the Savior than at any time in history.  And likewise, more experiencing the cancers of worldliness, division, jealousies, and egotism.

There is nothing new about this.

It’s not even new or unheard of that pastors would be the bullies.  After all, there must have been a reason why Peter wrote what he did in I Peter 5.  For him to have cautioned pastors not to lead in such a way indicates he had seen it happen.

In a similar fashion, we have seen husbands lord it over their wives.  “God made me the head of the home,” the bully says, “so that means you are to take orders from me.”  It means no such thing, of course.  In fact, Scripture says the husband is to love the wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5).  So, there’s a dichotomy here:  The husband is the head, but he is to sacrifice himself for his wife and family.  A faithful husband does just that.

Wrong ways to lead the Lord’s church

The great apostle spoke to “the elders among you as your fellow elder” (I Peter 5:1).  These are pastors. Peter considers himself a pastor/shepherd also.

As “a witness of the sufferings of Christ and a partaker of the glory that is to be revealed,” Peter’s credentials are impeccable.  He was with the Lord when He walked on earth and is in line to share His heavenly glories in the future.

Elders/pastors are to exercise oversight of the Lord’s church (5:2).  The word episcopos (root of episcopountes, the word used here)  refers to the overseeing assignment of the pastors (see Acts 20:28).  A shepherd watches over the sheep, leads them to green pastures, is ever alert for dangers and threats, and has the welfare of the flock uppermost in mind at all times.

Do not lead the flock in the wrong way or for impure motives, Peter advises…

Not under compulsion but voluntarily.  The KJV says “by constraint,” meaning the pastor is doing this “because he must.”  There’s no joy but total drudgery, no inspiration but a harshness.  Instead, the faithful overseer is glad to be preaching the word and tending the flock.  He loves the people, loves the Lord, and loves his calling.

Not for sordid gain, but with eagerness.  He doesn’t do this for the pay.  This is not just a job, not a vocation, and not a work he entered because it paid well.  He is serving the Lord Jesus Christ and is thrilled at the privilege.   Asked what he missed most about the pastoral ministry, a man said, “I miss the trumpets in the morning.”  Ask any God-called and Heaven-anointed pastor.  He knows what that means.

Not lording it over the flock, but being an example.  And here we have the key passage for our subject today.  The pastor is not to “lord it over” the flock.  Jesus is the Lord and he isn’t.

Pastors are not allowed to lord it over the Lord’s church. 

Jesus said, “I will build MY church” (Matthew 16:18.  It’s His church, His body, His bride.  No pastor in his right mind (with his heart right!) would dare to insert himself between the Lord and His bride!

It is true that Hebrews 13:17 calls on God’s people to “obey your leaders and submit to them.”  But that same passage says pastors “keep watch over” (overseeing!) “your souls’ and will “give account.”  Pastors will stand before the Lord and account for their stewardship and care for each sheep.  A scary thought if there ever was one.

A pastor lords it over the church when he…

–makes decisions unilaterally for the church.  He considers no one else’s counsel, believes God speaks only through him, and rules like a potentate.

–micromanages his co-workers and colleagues.  He alone knows what is best and allows them no room for individual expression.

–feels threatened when someone disagrees with him.  Usually reacts angrily and with harshness.

–forces those taking contrary positions out of office.  “My way or the highway” is his mantra.

You get the picture.

Final question: What if you are a member of the bully’s staff (as a worship leader, student minister, etc)?  What are you to do?

I’m tempted to ask how this happened, how you ended up on a church staff with someone so difficult to work with.  But I’m aware the answer is often: “I was here first.”  The bully pastor came later, and might even be new.  The church leadership–knowingly or cluelessly–brought in a pastor who would rule over the church with a heavy hand. And you are left to deal with it.

So, what should you do?

–Pray, pray, pray.  Ask the Father all the questions bugging you.  How to respond to the pastor today, what to do when the pastor asks you to do something you cannot or would rather not do, how to make your thoughts known to the preacher, and so forth.

–Get two or three or four friends in other areas to pray for you constantly.  These could be members of previous churches or classmates from school.  They should be able to keep a confidence.

–Don’t get territorial–as in “I was here first, and God called me to be minister of music and this is my job.”  That attitude will get you a quick exit and a bad recommendation for the next church.  Keep your eyes on the Lord and look to Him.

–Ask the Father about making this situation known to a key church leader, someone of great integrity and trust.  If you do this in the flesh or if it’s handled wrongly, it could be interpreted by the pastor as you making an end-run around him and be considered disloyalty.  A pastor who is a bully would see this as grounds for dismissal.

–If things are really bad–to the point that you are considering leaving, but would rather not–then try something bold.  Go in to the pastor’s office and tell him kindly, gently, forcibly, assertively what he is doing and how it feels to you, and why it is wrong.  You do this only when you have come to the point that “if worse comes to worse, all he can do is fire me.”  I’d rehearse again and again, with my wife but mostly with the Lord, what I wanted to say to him.  Then, go for it.

–If nothing changes and the bully continues to tyrannize the staf, get your resume’ up to date and share with your most trusted friends.  Ask the Father who called you into this work in the first place to open up the next assignment for you.

–If nothing else opens up or if you do not feel led to leave, then ask the Father to show you how to do your job well under these most difficult circumstances.  It can be done.  If you make the decision to try to stay, then consider walking in to the pastor’s office and asking, “Tell me what you’d like me to do.  You are my pastor and my boss and I want to do everything I can to bless this church and honor your leadership.  Tell me how.”

God bless you, friend.  The good news about having a tyrant for a boss is the next place you serve will feel like heaven.





44 thoughts on “When the church bully happens to be the pastor

  1. Pingback: The Top 10 Leadership Posts I Read The Week Of November 13th | Brian Dodd on Leadership

  2. Pingback: When the Church Bully Happens to Be the Pastor

  3. We are going through this now. We are seeking legal advice because our pastor and the President our Board ( his hand-picked yes man) have continually broken our by-laws.and because of their arrogance about this, are putting our 501c3 status in danger.

    • I’m assuming the pastor’s offenses are not something person to you, which is what Matthew 18:15 deals with. But when a pastor bullies a church, he’s violating scriptural commands and abandoning the Lord’s instructions to feed and nurture the sheep. So, while a visit by one person is not out of line, it’s probably not going to be effective. Every church needs some kind of mechanism–a committee, a church council, something!–for speaking to the pastor when he needs it. Call it a “pastor advisory committee” or even “pastor support council,” but it exists as a go-between for the congregation and pastor.

      • If the elders do their job, i.e. guarding the flock from fierce wolves rather than being part of the wolve pack, the there is hope. But if the elders see their job as licking up to the pastor and shoring him up at any (even spiritual) cost htere is little hope, especially if the church is very independent with no wider accountability such as leaders of a movement to which ordinary church members can appeal to if necessary, not so much to receive justice but proper, love filled, treatment with consideration.
        I feel that complaint procedures should be part of every church, strictly Bible based with the possibility of an outside mediator. All that in the hope of never needing to be used. Companies have that because the human factor is taken into account, but church usually doesn’t see the need, yet loose sight of Christ and anybody can misbehave.
        I have long, sad experience of being asked to do something then hung out to dry, then labeled as couldn’t be bothered even though having talked with elders and pastors what the problem is. When you get repeatedly blocked, undermined and even maligned, the pastors preaching especially in love, grace and unity becomes a clanging cymbal with consequent ear and headache (God’s real word is difficult to hear), that causes bellyache (it bugs you and chases your mind) and might even end in amputatted limbs (the we have no need of you, obviously not stated plainly usually but sneaked in, a bit like constructive dismissal.

  4. What do you do when your church is losing members because the Pastor won’t follow the riules and asks forgiveness each time he breaks them? He acts like he’s above the law.

    • If your church has no mechanism (a committee of some kind, church council, something!) for speaking to the pastor when he is doing well or not so well, it’s asking for all the trouble it gets. No pastor should be turned loose with no accountability.

      • Each family that has tried to talk with him has left the church. He has taken the authority away from the committee that is in charge of finances and removed it’s commitee head even though the head was put there by church vote and not Pastor appointed.. This Pastor wants total control and no committees that can tell him what to do. Unfortunately there are a few men who are staying to try and save the church and other members who will keep quiet because the Bible says not to go against the Pastor. We’ve lost one Pastor due to indiscretion with a female, the next one stole money and now this one using the church to look good in front of his peers. We are heartbroken by his actions.

        • Well, some thoughts. 1) Don’t go to him one or two at a time. Have a large group go together. 2) Find out who the decision-makers are and talk to them. If they refuse to do anything, you may be helpless. 3) Talk to some denominational person from outside your church, asking them what to do. If you are Southern Baptist, you start with your director of missions, and from there go to the state convention office.

  5. Great article, I’m obviously reading it because our church is going through this very thing. The pastor has been with us a year and slowly overtime we’ve lost many families, he’s bullied many people with anger and harsh and deceptive words, and refuses to listen to anyone. We recently told him how we felt and he decided to resign and now his family members are spewing untruths all over the internet, causing further divisions. It’s very hurtful and sickening to go through this with a leader!! I need the Lord to give me peace in this situation, I know we are to respect our leaders and I feel we showed them love and respect. With this situation though I feel very uneasy and do not want to be out of the will of God. Please help!

    • If he’s gone, then try to put it behind you and let the Lord deal with him and his family members. Pray now for healing for the congregation during this time and then, determine the church will check the next guy out thoroughly to make sure the same mistakes are not made. A thorough checking could have turned up this guy’s character.

      • We are going through a very similar situation except the pastor is not willing to leave. He has taken complete control of everything. He continues to hurt people, he even tried to excommunicate the founders of the church who have been there for over 10yrs had it not been for Godly people who came to their defence they would of been hurt by him. What can we do?

        • Get the counsel of some denominational leader. If your church belongs to no denomination, even so a leader of another denomination would be willing to hear your story and advise you. Please do this.

  6. in mine experience, many church bullies are not so cut and dry. many of them have experienced the love of the Lord and part of them do have the passion to bring people to the Lord and help others, sometimes with a heavy cost of course.

    not only that, the fact they do have a good side often make them more damaging to their victims

    here is why

    1 whatever help they have given to other members of the congregations help them build social capital. and when the times comes, they are not afraid to abuse those capital they have accumulated. This means those members of congregation often ends up becoming their enablers which could also becomes their helpers. or just their helpers from the very beginning.

    this is because it is human nature for people to take the sides of those they have a relationship particularly a close relationship with. they tend to rationalize and minimize what their buddies does, in which case they becomes the enabler and just stand by and watch and allow their buddy to just get away with whatever they do. Eventually they might become helpers if you choose to stand up for yourself. or if they simply assume the guilt on the part of their buddies’ victims even if their buddy is being a bully right in front of them. in which case, they are just the helper from the very beginning.

    for example, i went to this church for the very first time some time back. the pastor was a bit sensitive and read too much into my facial expression which was a bit expressionless due to mine medication maybe ( my expression was definitely not rude) he keep give the evil eye which was extremely rude, but what really made me angry was the fact i know from experience, as the leader of the church and all the social connections he has already built and me being the new guy. There bound to be members of the congregations who took it upon themselves to “assume’ i must have done something and join in the bullying. you would think a pastor who had ministering for years would know this. if he is so ignorant or incompetent, that is still a disgusting way of treating someone new

    i stood up for myself, and sure enough many within the congregation began to give me the evil eye.one old man even stood there at one point and glared at me.

    i was definitely intimidated, needless to say i know i could not go back.

    2 Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

    the sinful nature that is inside every single one of us that make us want to throw others under the bus in order to get what we or those closest to us want. but the worst kind of manifestation of this sinful nature is when a person utterly and completely justify this part of them, or even convince themselves they are throwing you under the bus for “your own” good.

    people often to do this to weakest members of the church, those they know can not defend themselves and can not push back against this type of bullying.

  7. I am the church organist. I love my position and this congregation. When I first went there I was welcomed with ipen arms and accepted. After a few years, this feeling of oneness has waned. What few times I have missed a service (with notification) I have been made to feel guilty, even after just coming out of the hospital. I am on the church board and if I don’t agree with all his proposals, it’s obvious he doesn’t like it & becomes distant. He is a great pastor, and I don’t want to leave, but he just uses too many manipulitave techniques. What do I do?

    • I think you make an appointment to see him, possibly taking a best friend or family member with you, and you tell him what you just told us. Then, say nothing and wait for him to respond. Be prayed up before going. See what God does.

  8. Some of our members in our church also were feeling down with how our pastor is treating some of us…consider him as bully and insensitive to some situations, no one upto now is brave enough to speak to him to address the issue for him to know that we were sometimes hurting and feeling bad about his choice of words.

    • Pray a lot before going, listen to the Lord for instructions, and go humbly. Take several good and godly people with you. Make sure each one speaks out, and do not leave one person as the spokesman. The pastor needs to know it’s all of you.

  9. i served on staff with a pastor who seemed to enjoy conflict. There always seemed to be someone “ out to get him” and he enjoyed it. It brought him pity by some. His bullying was both open and subtle. In a meeting with staff and a church member who was concerned about a personnel issue, I watched the Pastor scream at the one questioning him. At the end of one sermon, he asked all who wanted him to continue as pastor to come foward. While some did, many left the building, never to return. Our membership went from 450 to 150 in a year. When all those who disagreed left, the pastor was content.

  10. Google Fr Daniel Barica of Sts Simon and Jude in Huntington Beach, CA. I have never seen so many comments about a priest. The church needs to act fast before more kids leave. The Orange County Diocese facebook account even has reviews from upset people posted on July 9 and 13, 2018.

  11. The Pastor of my Catholic church.is a bully.He thinks he is the greatest person in the church.If you ever disagree with him you are shown the door. I told the Pastor that I have a mental illness He said he would never barr me. Because of some emails sent to him I am barred for life. He tells all my friends there that he will leave the church if I should ever come back.Hes barred me from all the coffee shops in the immediate area. Every body likes him because if they don’t they are out. He did throw me a nice party on my 50th. but less than a month later he threw me off church property in front of my friends for not agreeing with them that he’s a Saint.. You have to die first in order to be a Saint.. Church teaching too.

  12. Thanks Joe for this wonderful article.
    It reminded me when I was still young, and my Shepherd was like that …. a bully.
    When I served this same church as a deacon, many brothers asked me to talk to the pastor, because of the way he treated people, they did not realize that he treated deacons the same way.
    One day I went to talk to him, I heard from his mouth: While I’m here, I’m the boss.
    We all suffered, many went away …. this is very sad.
    I finished the seminary, and left this church, to be pastor of another church.
    I have been a pastor for 15 years, and before I was at the head of a church, I told my wife that not only the bible but our sad experience taught me that a shepherd is a man called to love and serve the sheep of Jesus.
    He still continues pastoring the same church, and the brothers still suffer …. he hasn’t changed a thing.

    Pr Elijah
    Baptist Church in São Paulo, Brazil

    • Thank you, Brother Elias. That bully-pastor will answer to God for abusing His Bride. I would not want to be standing anywhere near the man when that happens. My strong hunch is he is an atheist, in that he really does not believe in a God who will hold him accountable.

  13. I am having a similar issue but I have not seen any advice of where to go to try to take care of the bullying Pastor who has the support of the President of the church, secretary and the head of lay ministry that is too scared to do anything. Any advice of who I can contact?

    • Our denomination does not have a “President of the church,” so I’m unsure what to suggest to you. If a bullying pastor has the support of the main leadership, I’d say nothing you can say would have any effect. — I think if I were you I’d go outside the church and find a denominational leader and ask him for advice. If your denomination does not have such, I’d find one of another denomination. All you’re looking for is sound counsel. God bless you.

  14. What about showing this “pastor” has disqualified himself from ministry? The bully is not hospitable, is not reasonable, is quarrelsome and divisive.

    Stop abusing Christ’s church! Stop the abuse with two witnesses, as the scriptures require. It’s a disgrace!

  15. I am weeping as I read this. I am a deaconess at a full gospel church and a board member. I never wanted to leave my church but I feel I have to now. We have a husband-wife pastoral team. She is headstrong, takes his microphone during services, gives blistering prophecies to him saying God has something against him being long suffering that he should pick up the sword. I promise, our little congregation is precious and I know of nothing against them. She threw a chair at the choir risers because no one was in their place 15 minutes before church started. (If you arrive early, she works you too death). She was angry at choir practice because of the sound (arrived angry and took it out on a musician who was only trying to explain someone had fooled with the equipment. He had taken all he could so he left and both she and her husband, also pastor, told the choir, “he’s a drug addicted anyway and no one would want him.” Breaks my heart. I lost my husband to colon cancer and her response was “grief is not in the Bible.” So cold and cruel. I could go on but I won’t. I don’t know how much longer our church can take this. I am the last member of the board besides her and her husband because everyone else has left. Nobody to talk to and yes I have been praying so long. Help me.

    • Oh my friend. Why are you staying? Has anyone tried to talk to the pastor about his wife? If they do, they should go as a group, not singly. Otherwise, I think I’d ask the Lord for permission to leave. Life is too short to have to endure this devilish woman destroying the Lord’s church.

      • Thank you for your insight into this subject. It has helped me immensely. I have decided to leave. I only pray for my dear church family left to endure her wrath!

      • Thank you for saying, “ Why are you staying?”. Our associate pastor has been putting up with abuse for over 20 years . He is a man of God in every way but I feel that by putting up with this he has helped the situation to continue. I left my church, the church I loved. It is heart breaking and a difficult time. Still looking for a church .

    • Mary, it’s been two years since your comment, but I wanted to respond anyway, since I could almost feel the pain you endured. I’m assuming you’ve left that church since then. I’m hoping you found a good church since then, with a godly pastor and pastors wife. Naturally you were concerned about the congregation that would be left there. Only God can truly protect them from ungodly leadership. Your job is not to stay in a church like that and get battered and abused yourself. Your spiritual health and maturity is just as important to God as anyone else’s. He doesn’t want you to be abused anymore than he wants that for any other Christian. Your only “job” is to pray, and if God tells you confront the leadership, fine, but if leadership won’t listen then get out and continue to pray for those left behind. Pray they will also see what’s happening and have the courage to leave if God says so; especially if they have impressionable children or teens there, but even if you or they go alone, you should do it for yourselves too….The younger generations walk with God could be negatively influenced by a bad pastor (or pastors wife) and cause them to rebel and turn away from ANY church, even the good ones. But even for adults it can cause a wounded spirit over time. (Like I said I assume you left, so this may be a message for someone else currently in the same predicament that’s reading these comments) God bless you and your loved ones!

    • To Mary (from September 16, 2020),
      If you haven’t left by now I’d advise you to RUN, not walk, out of that church. There is NOTHING you said they’ve done, that is biblically correct. The pastors wife is not supposed to be running the show. If she’s that bad in church, in public, imagine how out of order their home must be. Grabbing the microphone out of her pastor husband’s hand? Correcting him every chance she gets in front of the church then saying God told her to do that? Publicly insulting and accusing someone serving in the church of things he did in the past? And in front of his peers? Not only should you leave but you might be disobedient if you don’t leave. (Of course that’s ultimately between you and God)
      To stay is to be in agreement with them, even though you’re not, it will be perceived that way. To give your time and money to something so unproductive will go nowhere. That’s time and money you could be giving to something productive. She sounds like a controlling narcissist. Why follow a ministry like that? Sometimes a church SHOULDN’T stay open. Even if the pastor himself is trying to do right, he should be able to have some kind of say over his wife, in a godly way. But instead SHE rules the roost. That’s out of order. If she’s a true narcissist, she’ll never change. She’ll never think that SHE’S the problem and never admit she’s wrong. It’s SHE that’s dividing the church, not the people choosing to leave. I’m not saying he’s perfect either, but how much of that is because he is not allowed, by her, to be the leader Gods called him to be. Sounds like she usurps him every chance she gets.

  16. I have recently left the church where I first came to Christ.I served diligently and faithfully. Pastors have no idea about the harm they do when they are bullies. Leaving a church is like leaving a family, like a divorce. I have been searching for a new church and find it difficult . I feel that my church was great except for the Pastor. It is an independent church so no accountability. Praying that God reveals a new church and new direction. Please pray for those that not only leave the church but also turn their backs on Jesus because of the bad example of the person in charge of guiding the flock. It is a very complex and difficult situation .

  17. I attended a certain Christian church for decades. That church closed its doors several months after the pastor decided to “retire”. In its place came another, similar denomination. I now attend that church, which means I’m in the same building, just under a different church name. I was happy because for years I’d been verbally bullied by the pastor and now I have a new pastor who seems more humble. The problem? My former pastor asked the new pastor if he could join the staff at the new church, and the new pastor said yes. He came in as some kind of consultant. I didn’t realize until after I’d joined the new church that he was still there and actually had never truly left. . He’s not there officially as a pastor but even so he’s still being treated almost like HE’S the pastor even though he’s only a staff member. The new pastor there still calls him Pastor ——. I don’t feel he has the same level of authority over me, or over the church, but he still is being called pastor when he’s not one. In my heart I feel he still wants to run the church from behind the scenes. He can’t stand the thought that he’s no longer in charge. He preaches on occasion, though not often. But when he does, he still manages to slip In hurtful remarks, while pointing out his own “perfect” family, He’s not very nice to those in the church that don’t have much clout, but no matter what guest speaker comes to preach they always go on and on about what a good man he is, pointing him out more than they do the current pastor, who they often ignore during their sermons even though he’s a more humble man than my former pastor. My former pastor sits in the exact same seat on the front row as he did when he was pastor. (The new pastor should probably be sitting there but sits one row over to accommodate him) . I guess you could say those of us who attended, for decades, the first church where he pastored know him better than the visiting guest speakers and the current staff who’s only known him for 3 or 4 years,, when the transition took place. It seems the former pastor meets these visiting speakers as they arrive then charms them into thinking he’s something he’s not. He’s not a humble man and is very prideful. He can be super nice and hospitable to people he wants to impress. I’ve witnessed that for myself…..He only shows them what he wants them to see, to the point that suddenly he’s this great man who must be mentioned in their sermons. He’s still getting pats on the back, as if he was still the pastor, but he’s not. Though no one that is from the first church, and now attends the current one as I do, blatantly talk bad about him, little things that are said let me know they don’t like him either and wish he was not attending. I thought I was finally free of him, although I’d resolved to forgive him and move on, he’d made my life miserable for a long time (I did leave my first church for a while at one time because of the abuse, some out in the open, with others where he knew no one else would see, but only reluctantly; because I loved my fellow churchgoers like family. I ended up returning after a while only after trying another church and feeling like a fish out of water. I knew that church wasn’t for me and most churches in my area are Catholic, so I decided if was going to be in a church I’d give it another try)….I want to make it clear the abuse was not sexual, or physical, but it was verbal, which is usually as damaging when it’s ongoing…..That’s why I was so happy when he “retired”, only to find out he was a member of my new church and even on staff there. I feel like I can’t get away from him. He loves being in control and won’t give that up. The church didn’t close immediately after that sermon where he said he’d retire after 35 years of pastoring. It was implied that they’d move to another town, where they’d sit under another pastor in a new church but still remain serving the Lord in some way…But it takes humility for a former pastor to just sit under a new pastor anywhere; without humility they still want to be in control, even if at first it’s only secretly.. From the pulpit, when he’d announced his retirement and said GOD told him clearly that the present youth minister at the time (he was friends with the young ministers parents) was to be the new pastor, no matter what. He also said God had spoken to Him very clearly in all those years (35 years as a pastor, 45 as a Christian overall) only 5 times, and that was why he KNEW it was God. (Only 5 times in 45 years?) Well, that youth minister WAS appointed pastor and it was a disaster. People stopped attending and started looking for other churches and after just a few months that newly appointed pastor left for something new. He was wrong about that “word from God”, apparently; while demanding that the youth minister take his place, even though he was young and had no real experience. People that have only known Pastor—-for a short while think he’s the greatest. After the newly appointed pastor left, the building sold and with that came a new pastor. This new pastor seems humble, is available to chat with and make conversation with new people as they come in on Sunday mornings, and he’s accountable, so I don’t want to leave unless God says so. But I also feel I shouldn’t have to leave since I don’t feel I’ve done anything wrong. Don’t misunderstand; I know I’m NOT perfect, either. But there’s a difference between the damage a church member with little to no clout can do to an entire church and the damage a pastor, or a staff member can do to a church body, if they have any kind of authority at all, they can either build up the church, or tear it down. I don’t discuss it with people at church, only one family member knows how I really feel and that’s because he saw some of the abuse and hypocrisy and left, and is now hesitant to return to any church, even though he wants to. Once he learned the former pastor was on staff there, he’s more hesitant than ever….. scattering the sheep in so many ways. Unless God changes my heart about this (I know either way I MUST forgive him) I’m tempted to pray he leaves and he and his wife attend a different church, but as of now it looks like he’s happy to be in the same church I’m attending and doesn’t look like he’s in a hurry to leave . I don’t wish any harm to him and have prayed for them to find someplace even better; I pray blessings over them; I don’t seek revenge, and I’m not angry about this, just really disappointed since my first Sundays at the new church felt like freedom where I would never have to be treated like a second class church member again, by a pastor, until I later realized he was still there and even on staff. I’m glad for sites like these because they’re not here to stir up gossip, it’s simply a place to share your frustrations, where people don’t know who you’re talking about anyway (unless someone decides to use real names). Thanks for allowing me to share.

  18. Before I started attending the church I’m in now, I was in another non-denominational church for 30 years. That pastor retired but two years before he did that, God told me to leave. It’s a long story, but I left on good terms. There were issues I’d long overlooked, but some things I couldn’t, so I eventually left. I’ve seen the pastor since then and everything is fine between us.
    It was hard to leave because I felt like I was leaving family, people I’d done church with for 30 years.
    This new pastor in the church I attend now came from another church to pastor this one. He was, I think, an associate pastor there. At first he was friendly, (to me), walking the halls saying hello. He seemed humble and happy to be the pastor. Before I go further let me say I know there’s no perfect church …It was only after 30 years that I left the first church because God said to. I’m not a high-maintenance person, and I always respect the pastors time. Only once in ALL the time I was there, I called his home for prayer, and that was in an emergency situation. If I need others praying in agreement with me I’ll ask a friend or two, but almost never the pastor or even his wife because I respect their time. I’m not always critiquing everything or expecting special attention. I’m happy to stay in my lane. I love seeing others get special accolades. I’m not overly competitive by nature. Not long after I left my prior church, the pandemic started. I didn’t attend any churches, just stayed home on Sundays. Now, unfortunately, this new church, I’ve found out, is heavy on monitoring the congregation. They seem to know who’s doing what at all times. The first time I went I felt like I was being watched. I shrugged it off thinking I was imagining things. But each time I went back I felt “shadowed” especially by this one person in particular. She wasn’t doing anything wrong, she just was there everytime I turned around. I found out later she’s on staff.. It’s become obvious, the minute a new person starts attending, they’re assigned someone on staff to track them. She seems to be a nice person and when I talked to her the first time (on my 4th visit) she seemed uncomfortable and even hesitant, with being sent to watch me, although she never said that out loud and I never voiced my concern. I can read people pretty well. Now after being here for a year I KNOW I wasn’t imagining things. And it starts with the pastor. I seldom blame a staff that is only doing what their boss is telling them to do. They don’t want to lose their jobs. If the pastor wasn’t controlling, they wouldn’t be either. He’s setting the thermostat for their behavior. Because he so far, preaches sound doctrine, quotes scripture correctly (sometimes I wonder, but usually it’s little things, and i can’t always put my finger on it), and I sense he’s a godly man in spite of his faults, I haven’t left there, at least not yet. I prefer to fist give people the benefit of the doubt. I’d had high hopes in the beginning, but that’s starting to wane. The church is always involved in EVERYTHING, including around the community. That’s a good thing, but although it’s not said out loud, it’s clear they expect members to be involved in every single activity. Not everyone has the same family dynamics. Not everyone has the energy, the time, the calling, or the desire, to do everything, but you can tell there’s this line in the church dividing the spiritual “haves” and “have nots” (that is decided by them) They give glowing reviews, usually from the pulpit, about this member or that member, which is great, and I have no problem with that. But those are always the ones that attend every activity and service, and always have their hands in something. They may or may not not have their heart in it, but they will be there no matter what. Right now I’m “only” a greeter, although I’m in the process of getting ready to volunteer at a pro-life clinic. I was on staff at one as a counselor for many years and we included telling them the gospel in our services, (all our services were free) Many got saved and decided to keep their babies.…then we helped them with that too. But that was not the only ministry I’ve had in my 30+ years of being a Christian.
    From the pulpit more than once, the pastor and even guest speakers, who all come from the same home church the pastor came from, have spoken about those that are content to “just hold doors open for people”. As if that’s ALL we’re doing or have ever done. I was in prison ministry for years, at a maximum security prison housing females, some were murderers, and leading them to Christ. I volunteered at two different food pantries, one at my former church and one in town that reached out to the community. I don’t say that to pat myself on the back, only to say he and they don’t know everything about me or what I’ve done before they ever knew me. Just like I don’t know every single thing he’s ever done either. There are several things that this pastor doesn’t know about me because he’s only known me a year and we’ve never had a real conversation…I’m getting tired of hearIng put-downs of the “lowly” greeters from the pulpit. . isn’t that some sort of church elitism? If that’s how they feel, then the pastor must be ABOVE everyone else, right? As in, BETTER, or more holy, right?. I won’t put any pastor on a pedestal; maybe he can sense that, although I’m respectful of his office and have never said anything to make waves, at all. . I’ve never shared my concerns with anyone from the church; but I wonder if I’m the only one seeing those things. No one wants to say anything. To begin with, speaking up often gets nowhere, and then you’re suddenly the troublemaker, and you wished you’d never said a word. This whole church is on a constant treadmill of activity. It’s good to be active, but when they demand everyone be the same, and do the same activities, at the same time; it’s like a herd mentality. Do it or else you get the cold shoulder from the pastor (has happened to me a few times). He was so friendly at first, giving me a warm side hug, and saying hello every Sunday before service. Now that he knows I’m not going to jump through hoops, he barely says hello. But I’ve observed he remains friendly to those that He deems worthy because they’re at everything the church is doing. He brags about his wife, his perfectly behaved kids, and holds himself up as the beacon of fatherhood. He’s putting one segment of the church down while holding up another, but we ALL serve in some way. Recently I heard again about the man that led a certain well known preacher to the Lord, he was a “mere” janitor or something like that, and that certain person he told the gospel to, became an evangelist and led many thousands of people over the years to Jesus. That janitors reward will be great too, simply because he was obedient. Some would have considered him “the least” but God doesn’t!! (I forget all the details but I do remember the gist of the message)….I heard another preacher on the radio say God doesn’t look at what we’re doing for the Kingdom the way man does. Man wants to know what we’re doing right now, this moment, and judges us on that. God sees the WHOLE picture, once we’ve been saved. He doesn’t ever judge us on what we did BEFORE we got born-again. That’s been covered and erased by the blood of Jesus. AFTER we’re saved, God sees our beginning and our end, at the same time, and sees the ENTIRETY of our walk with Him. Some seasons we may be busy with activities for the kingdom, and in others He tells us to rest, but it all has a purpose and it’s ALL good. I remember feeling like I was put on a shelf many years back, after having been in ministry. God spoke and said rest was necessary for what He was calling me to next, which was prison ministry, then in succession, counseling at the clinic. And BOY, He was right. Prison ministry got rough at first because the devil was mad as a hornet about that, but lovingly coaxing young women not to have an abortion, no matter what they ultimately decided to do, involved even MORE spiritual warfare. .

    Remember Martha and Mary; when Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and just listened as He spoke, He told her she’d chosen the best thing, even though what Martha did was also necessary. It wasn’t that it was wrong to prepare for guests, but it was even more important to sit at Jesus’ feet. God may not even be happy with so much activity all the time; 3x a week (church services /a prayer meeting), once a week for home group Bible study, at the end of which will be a conference that cost a decent amount of money. I can afford that but some may not be able to. There’s once a month for church clean-up and lawn day, plus one, two or 3 community outreach days a month, pre-service BEFORE the Sunday morning service, each and every week, where they thank us for serving as greeters, ushers, etc…, then, from that same pulpit, they later bash us at the regular service, because we’re “only” doing those things (especially the greeters)…I’m not exaggerating. And when is there time to spend time with family away from church? The pastor has even said we shouldn’t go on vacation if we’ll be out of town on a Sunday, but if we have to, we should seek out a church to attend in whatever town we’re in. Really?? He has more rules than God does. I’ve never felt God telling me we had to do that on vacation. In fact the one time my friend and I did that (we’d flown to Phoenix for a reunion she was attending), we asked around for a church, were given the wrong time for service, took a bus dressed up, with “cute” shoes on, got dropped off in the middle of a desert, had to walk a half mile to civilization, through 100 degree weather even in the morning, never found the church, and went back to the hotel to change into comfortable clothes. Then we went sightseeing!!! Clearly God did NOT tell us to do that, hunt for a church, and we learned a lesson. It’s hilarious now and everything turned out fine, but even so.
    In one service greeting was compared to being nothing more than a “door stopper”, even though we have to be there earlier than everyone else, are expected to be at pre-service, and we pray together for the incoming members and guests that will be arriving for regular service. We’re also expected to stay a while after the service to say “have a great day” or lead new guest to guests services. We are the first ones they see and the first ones to shake their hands, and welcome them in as they arrive. Then often we’re the last ones there to see them out. Yet we are treated like second class citizens of the church, even though we don’t get paid to do it, and we’re all volunteering our time. WHY are they SO concerned with that one ministry in the first place? I think it’s about numbers more than anything else.
    Something clearly is not right at that church. Maybe God is showing me this and will have me respectfully, of course, speak to the pastor, and I’ll do it out of obedience, but I don’t like confrontation. The fist time I walked in the door, I heard Him say He would use me for a particular reason, but because everything seemed fine the first few times, and I didn’t know then what I know now, I almost forgot about that until I’d been there 3 or 4 months, when it only got worse, and not better.
    Please pray 🙏🏻 for me to be bold to confront the pastor, OR to have the courage to simply leave, (or both), if that’s what God wants.

  19. After attending a local church in a small town and praying over the situation for a few years, without going into details of the ungodly behaviour and lies, I decided I could never return there. The pastor was ok with that.

    Weeks later my wife decided she and our kids would also stop going to that church and the pastor warned if she left his church that I would never be welcome at another church. For months every time he saw my family in the cafe or something he tried to get my kids to pressure my wife to return to his church without me.

    When he discovered we were attending another local church he contacted the pastor there to talk about me. I spent the next few years not going to any church.

    My family recently started going to a church about an hour away hoping that our former pastor would let us move on. The pastor discovered this and has contacted the new church to discuss me.

    What do I do? How do I make him stop this harassment? We should be able to attend a different church without fear of persecution by this ungodly pastor. Perhaps the only safe option is to stop attending any church.

    • Two thoughts. 1) Ignore him and keep going. I suspect the other pastors know this guy is a nut and they ignore him. You should too. When I was pastoring, I’m recalling a couple who started coming to my church. Their pastor in another town warned me that the man was dangerous, that in teaching a SS class he gathered people to him and became their pastor. In time, we let him teach a class and he was wonderful. Nothing like what his pastor had said. So, do not cave in to this guy. Keep going to a church and hold your head up high, loving people, being kind, and in time they will see what’s going on. 2) The other thought is legal action.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.