Th RainI’m finding a lot of wisdom and insight from Dr. Rainer recently.  Previously I’ve linked to his topics on  Inward versus Outward Church and Critics and Criticizing.  Now consider this one about the different kinds of  Church Critics.

1.  The constructive critic. This person really wants what’s best for you and the church. He or she does not have a personal agenda or vendetta. Most have prayed about talking to you or writing you before confronting you. The best response is to listen, discern and, if necessary, make changes. The challenge is that it is often difficult to discern the voice of constructive words in the cacophony of other criticisms.  (Note: I’ve had one or two people like this in every church I’ve served.  I love them and thank God that they have been in my life. To read how a constructive critic acts {Again from Dr. Rainer}, CLICK HERE).

2.  The negligent critic. This person makes an offhand comment and does not think much of it. He does not realize that his words really stung you. He truly was not making the issue a personal matter. In my own leadership position, I have made critical comments that I did not realize were so hurtful. And I would have never known my error unless others had told me. It is likely that if you let these critics know of your hurt, they will be both surprised and remorseful.

3. The hurt critic. Pain is pervasive in our world, and church members are not exempt from it. From their pain, these critics often lash out at pastors in moments of deep frustration and anger. Unfortunately, pastors are often the most visible and convenient targets for the hurt and angry critic. If pastors can discern this mindset of these critics, they should have a twofold response. First, they shouldn’t take the criticism personally. Second, they should make every effort to respond with compassion, concern, and love.

4. The sinful critic. Yes, everyone is a sinner. But there are some church members living in a state of rebellious and unrepentant sin. Their criticisms are attempts at deflection. They refuse to face their own rebellious ways, so they try to make you feel like the guilty party. If a pastor knows about the unrepentant sin in a church member’s life, he should confront him on it. Unfortunately, pastors often do not know these facts at the moments in which they are criticized.

5. The self-serving critic. This critic is having a thinly-disguised temper tantrum because he is not getting his way on some issue in the church. He doesn’t like the music. He doesn’t approve of the budget the church voted on. Somebody changed “his” order of service. So he lashes out at you because you are the leader who either led or accepted these changes. These critics are, in many ways, the most challenging.