Let me begin by saying there are and have been many bad pastors who ruin people’s faith. Many a wolf has chomped on God’s sheep. “Test the spirits” is not a throwaway line. Do that. Constantly.
With that being said, I know many pastors and most are sincerely trying to help. Most pastors have sacrificed to do ministry. It’s not an easy job.
No pastor is 100% correct in theology or application. Pastors have a sin nature too. This is why the Bible repeatedly says not to put your trust in people but in God. Do that. Constantly.
I have heard many a backslidden Christian blame a pastor for their backsliding.
(Again, there are bad pastors and they certainly hurt people’s faith, no doubt about that.)
I know some of the pastors who got blamed though and, no, they were not terrible people set on destroying people’s faith.
I’ve been told that my teaching has kept people immature and has hurt them spiritually. People who leave church take time to tell me how much happier they are now that they’re out of my church.
They’ve never been happier. It was my teaching and my church that kept them from all this happiness and peace they now have.
I know who these people are and I understand the desire to let me know how awful I was. But I also know these people were shaky at best in their faith.
Most of these people, when they began attending my church, told me about their last pastor who kept them from all the happiness and peace they now have in my church.
And that’s the problem: Many church goers think going to a new church will solve their problem. Learning a new system, getting initiated is exciting. Makes you feel rebellious. Throwing off the shackles of Last Church for New Church makes you feel like you’re spiritually growing.
But guess what happens when New Church gets boring or the anticipated nirvana of New Church never materializes (which it won’t)? They leave for the next New Church.
Guess what they say to New Pastor at New Church? “Oh man, that last pastor, never helped me. I’m so glad I’m here now where I have so much happiness and peace like never before.”
The cycle continues.
I used to take it personally when people would leave my church and I’d bump into them at Walmart, or they’d email me and let me know how happy and at peace they are to be out from under my faith-destroying ministry. It hurt.
OK, I still take it personally. It still hurts.
I never set out to destroy anyone’s faith or annihilate their happiness and peace. Most of these people were annoying. I sacrificed just to spend time with them and put up with their insults. They typically fell into weird sins and hurt other people in the church. Yet, in the end, their conclusion is that it was the pastor’s fault their lives aren’t better.
Nope, not buying it.
These people will whirlwind through your church. They will excite you at first because it really looks like you’re helping them and they say they are so happy and at peace finally! You’ll feel like you’re a way better pastor than all those other loser pastors, which you kind of knew anyway!
But it won’t last. Soon you’ll be the loser who is keeping them down. Out the door they will go and the inevitable email letting you know how happy and at peace they are will soon pop up in your inbox.
Pray for them. Pray for the next pastor who will get jerked around by them.
People are weird. Pastors are in the job of dealing with weird people. Get used to it. It still hurts. Check yourself, maybe you didn’t handle them the best, it’s possible.
Work it through before the Lord. His opinion of your ministry and their faith is the only one that matters.
8 thoughts on “Pastors Ruin People’s Faith, Or so the Story Goes”
LOL! If it’s any consolation, I’ve been really blessed by some bad pastors. It’s like, clearly this man has no idea what he is even talking about, I better just read the Bible myself. There are even a couple who the Lord pointed to and said, “You see that guy? Don’t be that guy.” See? Everybody serves a vital purpose in God’s kingdom.
I’m sorry people can be so hurtful and blind as to the nature of themselves.
Even bad teachers are still teachers!
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Please keep posting. Your observations serve a valuable purpose.
Thank you. I will say things when I have things to say.
Thanks for posting this and your entire site. In difficult times, it feels good to know other clergy colleagues are also struggling with this who Call to Pastoral Ministry vocation.
Thank you, sir. You are not alone. No need to feel like Elijah, there’s at least 7,000 others!
Great Timing- Text from one member and an e-mail from another member; they are both transfering their membership to another church- you got it right, I wasn’t doing enough for them.
Bummer. I know that hurts. I just went ahead and eventually just started telling myself I was the source of everyone’s problems. Then when they told me I was, it still hurt. It didn’t help. Don’t do that.
That’s rough man.