5 Things That Give Pastors A Bad Name With Unchurched People

What gives pastors a bad nameI’ve been a pastor since I was 30 years old, but even now, I still don’t really like telling people what I do.

I have a heart for unchurched people and am always trying to find a way to build bridges and tear down barriers. But I feel like telling people I’m a pastor or lead a church almost automatically creates a barrier—a barrier that seems to grow with every passing year.

Maybe it’s just me, but I always feel there’s a funk associated with the idea of being a pastor that might be a combination of

ConfusionI’ve never actually met anyone who works at a church (that’s especially true in an unchurched country like Canada, where I live).

SuspicionSo what’s the deal with all those church scandals and are you in any way related to them?

IrrelevanceSo what exactly would you do all day or why on earth would your organization exist?

Pity..You really couldn’t do anything else with your life?

It’s easy to point your finger at high profile pastors who fell or who have given the church a bad name, but that lets the rest of us off the hook too easily.

Sure, we can use the negative association to vision cast and correct assumptions (and I try to do that), but what if pastors had a good name in most communities?

So let me ask a pointed question: Is there anything you or I do–as regular, average pastors–that hurts rather than helps the cause of the local church?

I think so. This matters because the more we become aware of them and address them, the better we’ll become at fulfilling our mission.

Please hear that I love the local church. And I love local church pastors.

The vast majority are hard-working, mostly underpaid, sincere people who really love Jesus and want to make a difference.

But our blind spots can be our worst enemies. Identify them, and suddenly you can be more effective.

So here are 5 traps I try to avoid as a local pastor who loves the church and loves the people we’re trying to reach.

1. Speaking weird

I started to fall into this trap early in my ministry, and realized I had to correct it right away.

If you speak in code, you’ll have a hard time connecting with unchurched people.

If you find yourself saying brother, sister, amen, fellowship, tribulation and the like, it tends to bring less credibility to what you do.

Sure, that might work in your church circles, but if you’re trying to reach your community, it’s a barrier.

I also think the more titles you have, the weirder it gets. People ask all the time what to call me. I say Carey. I don’t even list my degrees anywhere (although I have three of them). I realize traditions differ, but I’m trying to connect with people who don’t go to church.

Here’s my rule. If you can’t talk to someone on the street the way you talk in church, you have a problem with the way you talk.

So don’t speak weird.

2. Pretending to be something we’re not

Unchurched people are tired of the hypocrisy. And, honestly, church people are weary of thinking of their pastor as someone who has it all together.

A pastor’s prayers don’t go directly to heaven. You struggle as a pastor spiritually. So do I. Sometimes we feel close to God. Sometimes we don’t.

Few of us have perfect marriages. And we need to say sorry as often as the next person.

What would happen if pastors were simply more authentic? Not as in super-raw authentic, but appropriately transparent. (I wrote about my personal rules about what to share and what not to share publicly in this post.)

Churches spent the ’90s and 2000s trying to be relevant.

Authenticity is the new relevance. Cool church isn’t nearly as powerful as authentic church.

So be honest. Talk about your struggles (appropriately).

3. Being known for what we’re against, not what we’re for

Many pastors—famous and not famous— have become known for ranting against the world.

Yes, there’s much to wring our hands over.

But I believe the general thrust of the of the Gospel is that Jesus loves the world and died for the world as an outpouring of that love.

You can think through that theologically, but also practically (most theology is practical in the end anyway).

Who would you rather hang out with? Someone who hates you, or someone who loves you, (even if they disagree with you)?

That’s a no-brainer for all of us.

People gravitate toward love. You do. I do.

So…what if instead of being known for what we’re against, the local church was known for what we’re for?

I am tremendously inspired by what Jeff Henderson and the people of Gwinnett Church have done with their #ForGwinnett campaign.

They want to make significant inroads into their community, and they want to be known for what they’re for as a local church, not what they’re against.

You can check out their Facebook page to see the highlights of their #ForGwinnett campaign.

4. Being Experts on Things We’re Not Experts On

Local pastors are always being asked, “What’s your opinion on [fill in the blank]?”

Many of us are scared to say “I’m not sure”. So we’re tempted to offer an ill-considered viewpoint on something we don’t fully understand. Even worse, some of us can gain social media traction through those ill-considered opinions.

I may have spent thousands of hours reading the scripture and studying theology, but that doesn’t make me an expert on everything except maybe coming to faith and growing in faith. I think I can speak into that.

I’ve also spent lots of personal time studying leadership, change and parenting. While I’ve got a lot left to learn, I can speak with a bit of expertise into those areas.

But I’m not an expert on the vast majority of issues. Do I have opinions? Sure.

But I’m not sure those opinions are helpful to the average person.

Increasingly before speaking into any issue, I ask myself “Will this help move a person closer to Jesus or further away from Jesus?”

Many of our half-thought-through and even deeply held ‘opinions’ in all likelihood move Christians and non-Christians further away from Jesus.

So why offer them at all if they’re not core to the scripture or the Gospel?

Instead, why don’t we all get comfortable saying “I’m not sure” or even better, “What do you think?”

Then just listen.

You’ll be amazed at what you learn, and how your listening might actually help move someone closer to Jesus.

5. Claiming Privilege

Sometimes there’s a really good reason you need a reserved parking spot. But often there’s not.

You just want it.

Or worse, you think you deserve it.

Right now I have the smallest office of any staff who have an office. In the new facility we’re building, I have an office but it’s not the biggest one.

Jesus came to serve, not to be served. The more I claim privilege, the less I’m like Jesus.

The challenge of course, is that many of us are privileged economically or socially. So it will be a daily struggle.

But sharing what you have with others, taking the low place and serving alongside others can make a big difference, even if after it’s over, you retreat to an office to write your message in silence.

What Would You Add?

These are 5 things I see that give local pastors a bad name with unchurched people.

What would you add to this list? I’d love to hear what you’re learning.

Scroll down and leave a comment.

5 Things That Give Pastors A Bad Name With Unchurched People


  1. Roya S on August 11, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    I’m being honest here. If pastors didn’t ask for or suggest donations or anything…. They could tell about projects… but did not take it upon themselves to raise funds- or couch giving in terms of receiving- after a prosperity sermon- like testing or buying God’s favor- if they left it up to Holy Spirit to speak to and move the hearts of the congregation- towards their body or even others in daily life…

    Made it about Holy Spirit and not “their” organization, hearts would be won to Christ…. And no newcomers would have a reason to suspect financial gain, etc.

    Jesus condemned this at the temple
    For a reason.

  2. Tom on August 8, 2021 at 3:12 pm

    I’m not a pastor. In fact, I am not religious. But the ideas you gave should speak to all of us, whatever our faith or role in the community.I wish you success in your ministry. We all need this.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on August 9, 2021 at 1:19 pm

      Tom, thank you so much.

  3. Bill on August 8, 2021 at 11:50 am

    Should a pastor use you in his sermon? Ex
    .you are sick and ask for prayer then don’t show up on Sunday cause you’re still sick
    Should he use you in his sermon to make you feel bad?
    I don’t think its right to have a pastor to use you in their messages. What you tell him is confidential and shouldn’t be shared.

  4. Danny F. on June 3, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    I would hope they are saved if in leadership in a church! Dang!

  5. Danny F. on June 3, 2021 at 10:44 am

    Why do some pastors air their grievances from the pulpit? I know 1 pastor who will tell everybody’s business from the pulpit. He doesn’t use people’s names and is very vague, but he does this often. And more often than not people know EXACTLY who he’s talking about. I’ve never approached him but I want to… I just don’t want to step out of line.

    • Niki S. on June 5, 2021 at 2:58 am

      You know what? I’ve seen the very same thing before. Honestly, I’m not sure why some do that, but every time it happens it lights this alert in me that it is wrong and doesn’t feel right that they are doing it, and I can say that honestly bc it’s never been a situation that involved me personally.
      I always think about it like this, if I were that person, and I was sitting there listening to that, when my pastor should be focused on allowing the spirit to move through him to speak to our congregation, then I’ll be honest, I’d probably never go back to the church again. Because to me, that’s nothing more than condemnation, and we aren’t to condemn others! Yes we look out for our brothers and sisters, but condemning them creates confusion and questioning your worth to God when it’s plainly written that while we we yet sinner Christ did for us.
      This is exactly what satan does! He makes us question our identity. Why? Bc when we question who we are, and look into the world’s mirror instead of the mirror of our life in Gods word, then it puts a distance in our communication and relationship with God! And that exactly what satan wants, to kill, steal and destroy our relationship with God! I’m sorry you have been through this, never forget that even though we ALL mess up, God gives more grace! He loves us! He may get on to us, but it’s bc he wants what’s best for His children! He just wants us to come to Him and talk about it! Repent about it. And let him to fix those things in us, but we have to let him. And if I’m wrong I hope someone will correct me in love, but these are my instincts when it happens . It’s all I can think about and turns me off from even focusing on the msg that’s to me told.

    • Akane on July 26, 2021 at 4:03 am

      Same! I go to a spanish church of my grandfather and he claims that he randomly heard God tell him their lives but in reality, they just told him themselves.LIKE HELLO, the members trusted you with their personal life situations/hardship asking for your advise and your just gonna blast them out like that?? Or whenever there was an argument in church he’d start preaching about how arguing is wrong and that God told him that He was the one who told him, not anyone else. In reality, my grandma would be the one telling him all the.”Chisme” or “Gossip” from the fellow members. I know its horrible to talk bad about the pastor but i just dont think this is right. They used to have many members go to their church, and now just have a few people because of putting their lives on blast because of that. SMH

      • Akane on July 26, 2021 at 4:10 am

        Same! I go to a spanish church of my grandfather and he claims that he randomly heard God tell him their lives but in reality, they just told him themselves.LIKE HELLO, the members trusted you with their personal life situations/hardship asking for your advise and your just gonna blast them out like that?? Or whenever there was an argument in church he’d start preaching about how arguing is wrong and that God told him that He was the one who told him, not anyone else. In reality, my grandma would be the one telling him all the.”Chisme” or “Gossip” from the fellow members. I know its horrible to talk bad about the pastor but i just dont think this is right. They used to have many members go to their church, and now just have a few people because of putting their lives on blast because of that. SMH. Like i said before, there are only 10 members so everyone knows whats going on… They never even try to recruiting other members because they feel its “not necessary”. My mom tried telling them that The Lord wants us to look and search for souls that need to be saved, but they just ignore her and change the subject. Oh Lord Almighty please do not get mad at me for saying this about them. I feel wrong for not saying anything… I know that they’ll try to say im wrong and do a whole message about how they are the only ones right.

  6. Cyril Soloman Porter on March 15, 2021 at 3:48 am

    How to know that a Bishop/Pastor is saved?

    • Zenzelo on April 14, 2021 at 4:17 pm

      When you pray to god you always asl him to
      Protect you(he’s a savior).once he tella you abour what cost him to be there!(trick)youve been told about jesus that delivers who share theological and practical but most practical.coz we are serving true God not theollogical god.who learns on how to reap nothing from the poor(my peaple are dying because of ignorance@hosea chapter4:6)im sorry for taking long)Amen

  7. Lloyd Mc on December 26, 2020 at 10:08 am

    Thank you.
    My new year’s resolution taken from your post, start a running list of me personally completing this sentence:
    The more I [insert attitude or action unknowingly in conflict with Christ’s teaching], the less I am like Jesus.

    • Michael Nathan Davidson on April 13, 2021 at 11:28 am

      American pastors specifically
      Won’t visit the homeless
      Won’t give money to people struggling in their own congregation except in meager amounts
      Expect a paycheck from its congregation
      Very hypocritical

  8. Ann Wingert on October 14, 2020 at 4:25 am

    I Googled her. She seems to be one of those independent pastors with no denomination who set up shop on her own. She is listed as having a husband and children of her own. Did he leave? How old are the children?

    Complaining to the computer won’t help. You will have to ask who has local control? Who writes the checks for her salary or does she just raid the till? You will need to ask the leaders of your congregation.

    Try to get into marriage counseling with someone other than her. Only other recourse would be the IRS.

    • Rev Mark Holman on December 26, 2020 at 11:08 am

      I wholeheartedly agree that someone who’s been abusing their power is constantly not a good idea and I can say is that in my denomination that if someone abused their position what happens the issuing authority and that they have to answer to committing the ADULTRY charges. And the decision to remove their papers weather Credentials, Licensed, Ordained or Doctoriate titles and since our Denomination has revoked on several occasions, even a General Presbyterian in another country was fired from his leadership position. I would recommend that in your case the charges should be with two or more witnesses and present it in a Bibical manner, I’ve known personally of someone who approached a Director of a Christian Ministry that her plans to Get Pregnant, Divorce her husband go on public wealfare, collecting child support and slander her husband as a pathological liar. And this has happened time and time again, I couldn’t even tell you how many times this happened. That person moved out of state remarried had another kid. Went out of state, 150 warrants range. I’ve seen the worst case scenario. Another had a warrant for her arrest and was feeding her infant coffee. Went from 1,000 miles to avoid arrest . Divorce and Adultry, Fornication issues comparing David and Bathshebia well that’s a sticky issue. Going back to the issue if I was head Pastor someone would been fired. The Question is what are you going to do about it?

  9. Madeleine Deerborn on April 22, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    Add this one: watching a reverend support (actively, tacitly, implicitly) parishioners who ostracize the most vulnerable, most isolated members because those supported have money and connections when the ones being cast out/down do not. And especially when those supported are ostracizing members who are doing what they were too cowardly to do themselves. And also this: watching the leader support violating directives of those higher up in the church hierarchy simply because those doing the violating are doing so, not in secret, just not in public where they can be seen, but where it is clear to the person cast out that that’s what’s going on and it is also clear to her that the reverend clearly knew because steps were taken to hide everything. I am the ostracized and let me tell you, it hurts. It hurts when you know precisely what is going on and know as well that at best, you’re thought too stupid to figure it out or worse, it doesn’t matter if you do because you don’t actually matter. You either stand in church singing and talking about the gospel or you go out and preach it with your actions. It would be nice to see a pastor side with the latter, risking himself for the 1 outside, hurting and alone and in pain instead of staying inside enjoying a privileged place with the 99 Pharisees who already have everything and who believe the fact that they have it all is evidence of their righteousness and also evidence that no one needs that 1 sheep in the first place. When you stand by the people doing the wrong thing, you encourage not only those people to do the wrong thing the next time, but you also make doing the wrong thing the foundation of your church. And that is not a foundation upon which a church can stand. Nor should such a church stand. I fully expect to be persecuted out in the “world” for following Christ. I even expect to be persecuted inside the “church” for following Christ. I do not remotely expect for the persecution in the church to be publicly rewarded because the persecutors are the reverend’s friends or because they have the money I do not. This is an ongoing event. And I have never felt more lonely in my life mainly because it could have, should have been over today. But I look and see that it isn’t remotely over. It’s actually now something that is reinforced. And when someone says, “Well, you don’t understand and I’ll bet you’d do the same if you had that much to lose” I can assure that someone that I do understand and I definitely would not because I did not. And it cost me everything. And even after it cost all I had, I turn on the internet and see I’m still meant to pay more. So remember, it isn’t the “unchurched” who are harmed, it’s also those people inside your church who are having their souls ripped in half and their hearts torn in two.

    • Cynthia on August 20, 2020 at 7:32 pm

      I know that feeling all too well

    • Tina on April 15, 2021 at 6:23 pm

      Prayers for all who have been hurt and are hurting by church leadership.

  10. Les on January 11, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    As to what people/the world thinks of me, I don’t give a rip at all. As long as God is pleased with me, it’s all good, as far as I’m concerned. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” – James 4:4(KJV)

  11. Dewayne Presson on December 23, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Very well spoken, thank you for sharing. I’ve been in ministry for 34 years and have pastored for 23 of them, so I do appreciate and understand what you’re saying. Sadly, I wish I’d learned these before I started pastoring 🙂 But live and learn as they say. Have a blessed day!

  12. Pastor Bev Sesink on June 19, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    Point 1- Speaking Weird
    This depends on your context.
    In the community I serve, there are over 100 languages spoken, likely nearly as many nationalities (about 50 in our church), and every major world religion and various others.
    A while back a leader in one of those faith groups referred to me as his brother. At that time I didn’t know what to say as we certainly are not of the same faith. Nonetheless he expressed an appreciation for the support and service I provide to him and his faith community.
    It took me time to work through the implications of his statement, and then one day a Christian worker among this group commented that if I am being referred to as a brother, that is a significant compliment, even more than being called a friend.
    And so over time I have begun to call this friend from this other faith community my brother as well.
    As I have extended my use of the term brother or sister to people from this group, they have responded positively, indicating they appreciate my willingness to extend its use to them as well.
    I have therefore discovered that the use of various religious terms are cultural and are appropriate in some occasions, and in others not.
    Certainly using the term brother or sister among Caucasian born Canadians does not seem well received, but from many other ethnic communities (especially immigrants), it seems to be very well received.

  13. Amy on June 1, 2019 at 10:04 am

    I have been a Christian and in the Church since I was 4 years old. I have a theology degree from Oral Roberts University but have been deeply wounded in the Church. I left the Church for 7 years because of that pain but God has healed that pain and placed me in a Church where I feel safe and like I can contribute. I think there are a number of things that Pastors do that turn people away. The most important issue is control. Many Pastors are not willing to let go of the control f the Church and let other people use their gifts to better the rest of the congregation. God does not just talk to the Pastor. He speaks to all His children and a good Pastor will recognize that and create an atmosphere where everyone that wants to can have a voice. Another major problem is incomplete teaching. Pastors tell us “what” to do but don’t teach us “how” to do it. The what without the how is useless. So my advise to Pastors is to dig deeper into the Word and give us the what and the how. It is in there because I have found it. Ephesians 4:11-12 says that the five fold ministry is there to equip the people to do the work of the ministry. How can we be fully equipped if we don’t know how to do what Pastors tell us to do?

    • Bev Sesink on June 19, 2019 at 10:29 am

      It is helpful if pastors themselves are doing what they are telling their congregation they need to do. Not much use telling people to do something if you yourself are not doing it.
      Personal example makes such a difference in encouraging people to step outside of their comfort zone into God’s comfort zone for them.

      • Cynthia on August 20, 2020 at 7:41 pm

        I know that’s right preach!!!!!!💖

    • Frances somerville on July 2, 2019 at 2:31 pm

      point well said. I am also discouraged with pastors that don’t tell the people how to and have guts enough to let them use their gifts that God gave them to add to the Church.

    • Cynthia on August 20, 2020 at 7:38 pm

      Soo true💖

  14. Mrs. Paul Owczarek on May 1, 2019 at 3:59 am

    What gives local pastors a bad name? – How about threatening rape when mothers complain about the bishops blatantly lying to protect pedophiles & their pocketbooks. Then researching & finding out the Church LEGALIZED PEDOPHILIA 100 years ago.

    The Australian canon lawyer and the sociologist published two documents. The first is a legal report entitled “Canon Law – A Systemic Factor in Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.” (free download from National Catholic Reporter) written for the Australian government. The second is the lay version “Potiphar’s Wife.” (buy on line for real money) . I verified the information with the author of the second book and the legal firm from the movie Spotlight. A third is “Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church; An Interpretive Review of the Literature and Public Inquiry Report” another free download through the Center for Global Research; School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT Both books thoroughly document how the vatican ORDERED the bishops to protect the pedophiles starting 100 years ago.

    I was a 50 year plus Roman Catholic watching the pedophile crisis in horror, especially when the previous entity in possession of the vatican compared women who want to be priests to pedophiles. Then the PA bishops ordered all the priests to blatantly lie about PA Bill 1947 which extended the statute of limitations on pedophiles. I complained to my local priest; who handed out the “Catholic’ League’s Essay “Women’s Moral Descent” with its theme that men have the right and moral obligation to decide which women deserve to be raped. I called my daughter at college, crying, saying that all the priests were depraved perverts totally dedicated to worshipping their dicks. Her response, “Duh, Mom!. I’m sorry you had to figure it out in such a painful way.

    • Kan Enas on October 26, 2019 at 3:58 am

      I read the article you cited (Catholic’ League’s Essay on “Women’s Moral Descent) in your reply to the article above; “5 Things That Give Pastors A Bad Name With Unchurched People.”

      I could not find anywhere in the article anything that underscores the following conclusion you drew, implicitly or explicitly, namely that “the “Catholic’ League’s Essay “Women’s Moral Descent” with its theme that men have the right and moral obligation to decide which women deserve to be raped.”

      Can you please reply with citations in order to verify the above claim that you have put forth.

      Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.


      • Ann Wingert on October 26, 2019 at 4:58 am

        Did you skip over the opening sentences?

        They start with women being pursed and the response of – Of course you were asking for it. You were wearing improper clothing.

  15. Erin on April 30, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    I appreciate the transparency. I will admit I am not a regular church-goer but I do believe in God and Jesus. I have met a few pastors in my days and have learned from them that they are no more righteous than I am. It’s wonderful what they have chosen to do with their lives, but they are no more closer to God than I am.

    For example, my neighbor is a pastor. I will declare that there are much worse neighbors out there, but after getting to know him and his family over the years, and doing transactions he has shown a very manipulative and passive-agressive side to him in order to save money for himself and maintain a reputation at his church, at the expense of other people. I will not go into details and dont mean to sound judgemental but there are basic values I hold higher than he does.

    Believing in Jesus is one thing… following his word is another. Afterall, Judas believed in Jesus too.

    • Bev Sesink on June 19, 2019 at 10:34 am

      I don’t refer to myself as a Christian but as a follower of Jesus Christ or Jesus the Messiah. This is much better received than the term Christian.
      A while back a friend of another faith community refer to me as a “Good Christian.” He obviously has seen otherwise.
      And he knows I’m a pastor as well as I have served his faith community for a number of years.

  16. Roberto Delpopolo on September 15, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    Improvement to No.5-Claiming Priviledges. Pastors become the devil when they have sex with girls and women of their church and at the same time they teach moral values extracted from the Gospel or Bible. Many other pastors know of this behaviour and they let them continue to betray the Truth. This type of behaviour is similar to that one of the Catholic Church where a priest have sex with many women while people inside the church are kept faithful to their half. It’s a witchcraft-like mechanism that automatically turns eveyone as followers of the devil. The opposite is the truth: believers having free sex and confessing their sin to one another. When this happens, then suddenly stops. Why? There must be pedophelia going on. It can happen when underage girls are sent by the sinful pastor to important people therefore its mafia into the media will move heavy comments against an immoral behaviour of the entire congregation (the believers going to church), simply because sins are confessed and everyone knows about it. At this point the congregation will fear the public opinion and stop doing the sin while the pastor continue to make sins that are not confessed to anyone. It all turns into a busienss venture. Pastors cannot make sexual sins that skip confession. This is the biggest mistake of christians believers.

    • Paul on November 20, 2018 at 10:50 am

      Thank you Carey for the article . Clearly your heart is toward Jesus and furthering his kingdom . Down here in the US in many of the ” word of faith ” churches the problem today I see is not privilige, condemnation , ( what were against ) transparency , ( admitting weaknesses and sin from the pulpit by the pastors ) but ironically being “experts ‘on theology and not telling people the truth . If pastors really knew the gospel and what Jesus said they would” preach the truth in love ” . Either they do not know it in most churches or are afraid to tell the truth because their huge salaries and parking lots along with the ” huge rock concert praise and worship band ‘ would disappear because most people do not want the truth . Its not what I think or Carey but what Jesus says that matters . I do believe that many of these pastors come from families who went to churches with the ” turn or burn ” preachers and are ” pendulum swinging ” to far the other way with the God is love and no judgement mentality.We are our own worst enemies since the garden . Jesus knows it .Pastors are now afraid to say it .The whole gospel . Most people do not want to hear the truth .

  17. Scott Button on July 26, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    Trying to or wanting to be something your not. People see through it. God can only use you as you. It comes back to authenticity and self awareness. Being comfortable and confident in your own skin

    • REL on June 8, 2019 at 4:31 pm

      I agree completely with your comments. Reminds me of a country song, “ Don’t Get Above You’re Raising”. Ricky Skaggs. Just my two cents worth.

  18. Jonathan Hardwick on July 24, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Don’t just do the big up-front things. Be prepared to do the small things that aren’t seen, like unblocking the toilets, shovelling the snow, cleaning the windows. You might think people don’t notice, but they do, and it speaks volumes.

  19. […] 5 Things That Give Pastors A Bad Name With Unchurched People […]

  20. Pamm on July 22, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    Hi Carey, Thank you so much for all you do to encourage leaders. Your messages often hit home! I have a couple of thoughts on this one, though. Might I gently suggest that not using a title may unintentionally connect to privilege? As an ordained female pastor, I can get up front and preach, be on the church website, run meetings, etc. and STILL there are a fair amount of people who do connect the dots that I am a pastor, which matters not because I want to lord it over anyone, but because for church functioning people need to know who I am and how I can work with them, counsel them, make decisions, etc. The best solution I have found–and many of my female pastor buddies have found–is that we have to almost overuse those titles to be efficient and effective. Additionally, when I use my title outside of the church it actually helps people know that Christianity is bigger and more diverse than the extreme conservative white-male political image it has gained in the US (and I assume Canada, too).

    The point on being not experts starts to tread into similar ground. The pastors who do speak out to media requests on pressing issues, and news tend to be the extremists who aren’t reflecting the Jesus I know. If more big-name politically-middle (in their Biblical interpretation) religious leaders spoke out to represent the truth and love of Christ, that increasingly tarnished word “Evangelical” may come back to its truer roots rather than the political extremism it is now reflecting. Being “not an expert” on a contemporary issue may be true, but as pastors we are experts in speaking the bold love of Christ and
    getting out of our safety zones to reflect the (apolitical) truth of Christianity may be actually just what our increasingly post-Christian culture needs!

    • Pamm on July 22, 2018 at 1:37 pm

      Oops…I deleted a word in my comment above. The above should say, “fair amount of people who do **NOT** connect the dots that I am a pastor.”

    • Ann Wingert on July 22, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      I think it is VITAL for ordained women to use their titles.

  21. Wayne on July 21, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Pastors who are overly demanding and don’t tip at restaurants.

    • Ann Wingert on July 21, 2018 at 5:37 pm

      That is my sister, the ex waitress’s comment on the priest where we grew up. When he walked in, he expected immediate service and everyone to fawn on him. She said father had a Tude.

    • Michael Daniel on July 22, 2018 at 7:25 am

      Saying “no”. Whether inside or out, folks too often treat the Church as a shopping experience; so when the “customer” is told “no” by the pastor (regardless of the reason), the pastor is slammed.

    • Karen W on June 3, 2020 at 9:10 am

      Thank you very much, Carey, for sharing your thoughts. I always appreciate your clear way of writing and your obvious love of God and God’s people. I’d like to point out something you mentioned in the paragraph titled “Speaking Weird.” You said that the more titles a pastor has, the more their tendency to “speak weird.” You went on to say that you don’t even list your degrees anymore (although you have three). What was the point of saying that? To reassure your readers and parishioners that you really are a smart guy, even though you are “just” a pastor? To not-so-subtly tell people how well educated you are, so you must know what you’re talking about? Neither one of those seem to have any bearing on your ministry, and they take the focus off of God and put it on you. The last three pastors I’ve had have gone out of their way, in fact sort of bent and twisted a conversation or sermon, to insert the fact that they had multiple degrees, that they “gave up the good life” to go into ministry. One said that “I could have been a lawyer, but instead I answered God’s call.” One repeatedly mentioned that they gave up a six figure salary to go to seminary. Another has also repeatedly said what great pay they used to have before becoming a pastor. Now, I understand that mentioning those kinds of things MIGHT be worthwhile in a testimony or when introducing oneself to a new congregation, but to say them over and over again… well, it doesn’t fit Jesus’ narrative of humble servant. If I, as a “church” person, find that off-putting, imagine how it comes across to the unchurched who are not looking to be impressed but are looking for God. You are a wonderful pastor and writer, Carey, and I don’t care how many degrees you have. If for some reason your stating that fact means that you, after so many years, are still insecure about your gifts and abilities, take that to God in prayer! ( And remove that line from your post – it’s out of sync with all the rest of the wonderful things you have to say for God).

  22. Susan Joy on July 21, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you Carey, for working to make a difference. I am happy to say that within the National seniority of my denomination (in Australia), we are seeing (appropriate) transparency & authenticity. This is filtering down into the States (seen at conferences) & heard in other pulpits. It gives the people permission to be normal & to feel safe to speak of their struggles.

    Authenticity – it’s great when we see the pastor & leaders being this. What about me? Am I authentic? Am I willing to change things in my own life? Am I willing to be (appropriately) authentic with those I influence? The change I want sometimes needs to start with me, then those I lead will have a good role model.

  23. Phil Nelson on July 21, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Our church started the For “your town” movement about 4 months ago and are loving watching God move on our community as we, the local church, put action to what we say we believe. It is slow moving but consistent. It truly makes a difference to be the the difference.

    • Marcia on July 29, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      I had a pastor that didn’t want to be bothered by people, lied to the elders about things and was a terrible public speaker. Rambling on without a point or too many points scattered throughout sermons .It was painful to listen. That church is barely existing. They list 90 percent of the congregation.

  24. Ann Wingert on January 6, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Threatening member of congregation with rape and/or murder

    I am an American afraid to practice my religion. I am hoping that you will help protect the children. VIRTUS training – How to spot a pedophile: They believe they are above the law; usually by claiming to follow God’s Law. It isn’t just the Catholic Church; it is all religions where the pastor is seen as God on earth. The evidence is that college’s are NOT QUALIFIED TO DEAL WITH SEXUAL ABUSE. The vatican is WORSE.

    After fleeing in terror from the Church this year, I found the documented evidence. The Australian canon lawyers published two documents. The first is a legal report entitled “Canon Law – A Systemic Factor in Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.” (free download from National Catholic Reporter) The second is the lay version “Potiphar’s Wife.” (buy on line for real money) Both explain the Misprision of Felony laws that must be enacted to FORCE THE BISHOPS TO TURN THE RECORDS OVER TO POLICE. This should also be another tool in law enforcement’s belt to force witnesses to testify. They would need to be written to protect witnesses from violence.

    I was a 50 year plus Roman Catholic watching the pedophile crisis in horror, especially when the previous entity in possession of the vatican compared women who want to be priests to pedophiles. Then the PA bishops ordered all the priests to blatantly lie about PA Bill 1947 which extended the statute of limitations on pedophiles. I complained to my local priest; who handed out the “Catholic’ League’s Essay “Women’s Moral Descent” with its theme that men have the right and moral obligation to decide which women deserve to be raped. I called my daughter at college, crying, saying that all the priests were depraved perverts totally dedicated to worshipping their dicks. Her response, “Duh, Mom!. I’m sorry you had to figure it out in such a painful way.” I fled the Church in terror and will never set foot in a Catholic Church again.

    Then it got even worse. I checked this with one of the Australian writing collaborators and the legal firm named in the movie “Spotlight.” Pre Benne Dick, I wouldn’t have believed any of this. Now, I believe every word. The “mercy” prayer”, endorsing men murdering wives by false claims of adultery helped convince me.

    I knew that the incompetence of the Church over the pedophilia crisis and everything else could not possibly be accidental. It had to be deliberate. Both books are both enlightening and explained a lot of things I had seen in the Church that didn’t make a bit of sense before.

    May 27, 1917 was the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of ‘legal’ pedophilia in the Catholic Church; because that was the day that pedophilia became a “crime” with NO PUNISHMENT! DO NOT FORGET THAT THE VATICAN IS ITS OWN SEPARATE COUNTRY. On that day, the vatican decided that pedophilia wasn’t a crime IF NO ONE KNEW ABOUT IT. The law made secrecy about pedophilia paramount and all cases had to be handled directly by the vatican; which had no provisions for punishing them. The penalty for breaking the vow of silence was AUTOMATIC EXCOMMUNICATION.

    Both books are useful tools to document the process and the legal remedies that can be taken to stop them and force the bishops to turn over the records. (Now I see where Marino got the inspiration to create his legal drug pushing rings!) Misprision of felony was abolished in most jurisdictions. The canon law requires the bishops to obey civil law where THEY ARE LEGALLY REQUIRED TO REPORT. It is getting worse. Francis was all – We are a nation of pedophiles – in front of the UN.

    The vatican has proudly and effectively proclaimed that Christ is the Great Penis in the sky to which you must sacrifice children. I WILL LITERALLY BE DAMMED IF I WORSHIP THE GREAT PENIS IN THE SKY TO WHICH YOU MUST SACRIFICE CHILDREN!

    Then we have the evidence of the vatican mercy prayer written for the year of ‘mercy’. (2015 – 2016)
    The second example: The “adulteress”
    From the account in the Gospel, it was doubtful that she was guilty of anything. She was brought to Jesus by the Pharisees and the scribes. Assuming the woman had a choice, which is doubtful as a starting point; the fact that she was there solo immediately indicates she is a pawn in a political game. The law would have had both the man and woman condemned. The religious authorities were making a mockery of the Law by using her as a trap for Jesus and as the scheduled entertainment of the day. If he had had her stoned, the Romans would have convicted him of murder. If he had simply let her go, the scribes could have claimed he wasn’t following the law.
    Remember, the ‘honor’ killings of women in the mid east did not start with ISIS. They were popular back then as well. A lot of the point was the practice of the religious leaders terrorizing women. Think of the public humiliation. The vatican demonstrates jealousy of the ability to publically and mortally terrorize women with this example. Did they stop to think that this would have been the fate of the Virgin Mary if not for the incredible miracle that was St. Joseph? I’m sure they had checked into the local gossip of Nazareth. They were not so subtlety calling Jesus the son of a whore.
    The story contrasted the evil and misogyny of the religious authorities to that of respect and love of women Christ continually displayed. The Divine Mercy was to the religious authorities for twisting the law for their own aggrandizement.
    What Jesus did that day was more miraculous than his ‘parlor trick’ of raising Lazarus from the dead. He would have remained just a Jewish miracle worker if that was all he did. He did something greater that day. He changed society that day. He struck a mighty blow against those making a mockery of justice and whose concept of religion was – I belong to the magic group that means I get to kill people.
    The vatican – It was only the woman who was guilty and that the next greatest sin is a woman having sex except with her owner’. It also implies that it is perfectly acceptable for a man to murder his wife on trumped up adultery charges.
    So the prayer is just further proof that the ‘mercy’ of the vatican applies ONLY to unrepentant pedophiles.
    Coming soon – Men Explain Religion to Me, i.e. subverting God to promote greed, torture, xenophobia, pedophilia, etc. I had to hire the publisher’s artist as I don’t draw

    • Dennis on June 15, 2019 at 9:15 am

      Ann, this section is for COMMENTS, not dissertations. When you write more than three paragraphs as a “comment,” people simply scroll to the next one and whatever your message was is lost.

      • Ann Wingert on June 15, 2019 at 4:13 pm

        Dennis. Thanks for compliment. I’ve put a LOT of research into what I write. Even if no one reads them, writing them lets me vent and feel better.

  25. Fawn Harris on September 14, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    My comment is short and simple… I find this with almost every church I have been to..The pastors belief that he has the power to scan a congragation, especially new people ..and feel he knows the”whole story” then he will use guess work claming God has told him and start to preach from his heart as to gain a new member by zeroing on a reason that person is at church.. I see it over and over.. just read God’s word it will do the work…. you as a person need not know a thing except obey God’s voice.

  26. Robin Whitney Cromer on March 1, 2017 at 9:58 am

    I find this article interesting though I do not agree with it 100%. Why
    do we search so much inside ourselves as to what make a good or bad
    Pastor or what reaches the unchurched when ALL those answers and so much
    more are in God’s Word. The love of God, pure and unadulterated,
    always draws people to Him. The Word says, If I be lifted up, I will
    draw ALL men unto me. So it is simple. Preach the goodness of Jesus,
    and remember, it is not all fluff and feel good. Preach the truth of
    Jesus from His Word.

  27. Emily Fravel on February 28, 2017 at 9:42 am

    Don’t assume that someone who doesn’t go to church doesn’t know “the truth”. Many of us know it, heard it, lived it and left. We left because of spiritual abuse.

    We don’t want to hear how your church is different. We don’t want to hear about giving church a second chance. We don’t want you to offer to pray for us.

    • Carolyn on July 31, 2017 at 6:45 pm

      I hear your pain. I have been grieving leaving a church I attended for a year and was involved. The minister does not serve her community. We support her in tithes and offerings. 6 weeks after I started attending my mother passed. I didn’t receive support. At times I have left phone calls and emails good things too and never acknowledged. She makes reference to Jesus but nothing about relationships. Prosperity gospel is huge. I was one of their biggest endorsement on Facebook. Since I decided not to attend any longer I have been blocked. I started working for USPS overnight. The heavy demand schedule wasn’t working with church and pushing to take classes. I was belittled by a member in front of others. I couldn’t pay my rent and had the worst financial time of my life there but I tithed. They promote love and acceptance of everyone but actions are dark. I couldn’t be myself. I was constantly asked when I would get a car. Felt less human but I made the effort to be there coming from a 10 hour shift working 55 hours and up almost 24 hours before bed to work that night. So much invested in a year to be for no reason other than great memories. Minister brags what church is doing but a handful does the service. I cry everyday since leaving in Feb. My heart hurts more that I hurt them then they care about me. Never thought it would end so painful.

    • Niki S. on June 5, 2021 at 3:33 am

      Girl you gotta find the right people! People who love you and speak life into you! I completely know where your coming from all too well! They preach fellowship and the importance of going to church to meet, the importance having Godly people in your life, but some places don’t fight for that! They don’t fight for fellowship anymore, they don’t fight to make sure that each one in the church is doing okay!
      How many times have we walked in and said we are doing good on a Sunday or Saturday or even Wednesday night ( depending on when people go) and we’re not alright at all, but bc of the church’s lack of true fellowship to get personal and reach out, we can’t open up!
      Most churches want you to come to them! I say nay to that honey! They need to go out into this world and approach a true compassionate relationship with other just as Jesus did! But they won’t because their faith isn’t bold enough and they won’t bc it makes them uncomfortable!
      I’m SO sorry on behalf of Jesus that others have put a name on the body like that, but if there is anyway that I can talk with you, be a support to you or just have someone to talk about life with please allow me! Because girl you MATTER! And we are ALL equally important here in the world for one humongous purpose which is God’s!!!

  28. mary on February 27, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    Someone recently told me their reason for choosing a particular church: “The pastor actually spoke to me.”

    Unfortunately, I’ve experienced what this person was talking about, too. The pastor does his sermon and goes to his office, or stands out front shaking hands and saying a couple words to this person and that, but isn’t truly available to anyone. Who wants to go to a church where leaders don’t say more than a quick hi, and never respond to emails or calls?

    • Mark HALE on July 21, 2018 at 5:48 am

      When Jesus fed 5000 plus women and children, I doubt he had deep conversation’s with many who stood in line to meet him afterwards. That’s the beauty of joining a small group in your church. You get the care you need, and it doesn’t cause the pastor to carry all the burdens of the people. Your group can usually help you sort things out.

      I preach 3 times every Sunday. Ask anyone who does that. It’s EXHAUSTING! There is so very little left in the tank, I cant imagine having a “real” conversation on a Sunday. But I love to welcome people, catch up a bit in the foyer, thank them for coming.

      I think you should thank your pastor for doing the best he can. I bet God is using him. And….if you really need to speak with him, stop by the church during the week, or better yet, make an appointment.



  29. Mr. Cadillac on February 27, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    Being excessively overweight. You look like someone who is living off others.

    • Emily Fravel on February 28, 2017 at 9:40 am

      I have a transgender child. It never fails that those who tell me that what I’m doing to my daughter is a sin are overweight. I look at the pics of their families and it’s a fat couple, often who share a Facebook page (which is Christian for “one of us cheated”), with fat kids.

    • Jason on November 7, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      Or…someone who eats a lot and doesn’t exercise.

      • Stan Starkey on July 21, 2018 at 9:31 am

        Or someone in a lot of emotional pain who has not yet found the grace to overcome, and turns to food for comfort – and they are trapped in a cycle – “just a thought”

  30. grace on February 26, 2017 at 11:52 am

    I don’t go to church and I don’t go because I don’t believe that there should be any professional clergy. because of the corrupt and ungodly nature of most American churches, in many cases as much as 97% of the money they bring in through tithes and offerings is spent on overhead. In a recent study 59% of millennials who were raised in the church do not attend church. Once the baby boomers who are faithful tithers retire the American church will be defunded. I believe that this will be a positive development. I am a Christ follower to my core, but I will most likely never attend church again in this life, at least I hope I don’t have to.

  31. Jim C on February 25, 2017 at 7:58 am

    I disagree, or rather would change, number four. While I agree that we, as pastors, aren’t and don’t have to be experts at everything (I believe you can’t be a proper theologian without a good dose of “I don’t know” in your vocabulary.), I do believe that studying God’s word for thousands of hours doesn’t limit you to “coming to faith” and “growing in faith”.

    Two things…
    1) It enables you through the Holy Spirit to speak to principles/designs/commands that God has clearly shown about the world. Thousands of hours gives you God’s perspectives on things that others may not yet possess or at least, be able to show a framework that clears up misconceptions. As Christ followers, we are all a part of what God is trying to do here. I can’t totally count out what anyone is saying, because I’m asking myself “What is God saying through them?” or “What’s the point God is trying to drive home, not necessarily through the oration, but through this encounter?”

    2) Insight the Holy Spirit gives you because you were put in the position to answer. Often, my wife and I are put in the position in counseling to speak to issues we haven’t experienced or aren’t “experts” on, and for a while, we felt unqualified to give direction. What freed us was the realization that we aren’t speaking from simply human knowledge, but we speak from God’s wisdom which is appropriate in ANY circumstance.

    The Holy Spirit is the great Equalizer, because he can make you an expert on anything, even more than human study and years of experience can. I don’t think it’s for the sake of you being an expert, but to get what God is saying through you, to bring glory of Himself and people closer to Him in that moment. He did that with Joseph and many other people.

    The point is that you actually are following the Holy Spirit and aren’t speaking for the sake of personal hubris (truth, but in love). I usually find that the Holy Spirit pushes me to say more when I want to say less and to say less when I think I have all the answers.

    It’s had nothing to do with whether I’m an expert or not, but who I’m truly following, who I’m honoring and who I’m speaking for, rather than my credentials to speak on anything.

    • Erik Humphrey on February 26, 2017 at 11:03 am

      Hi Jim.
      Can I ask your age?

      Carey isn’t suggesting we shy away from “normal” discussions, just that we don’t walk around always trying to be the expert. Or having input to every topic.

      Even with the Holy Spirit, there are topics we know nothing about. If one asks about those, maybe we shrug and say “Wow! I’m stumped along with you! I’ll be praying,”. And help find a better advisor for them…

    • Niki S. on June 5, 2021 at 3:58 am

      ABSOLUTELY! I agree!
      We can study all we want! In fact I’m quite the little Bible / history nerd (😂), but Godly wisdom is a very precious thing that’s not from us. And that’s so beautiful! How amazing is it that God just gives so freely!?
      Listen, I just turned 29 years old. I am hungry for God and I have such a passion to want to help clear up the mess, lies, false teachings and worldly views of Jesus , bc so many have perverted who He is and what He’s all about! My point is … there have been times, though I’m young, and also young in my faith, a answer comes right out so fluent, it rolls out, and it’s usually times that I’m sitting there thinking to myself “ oh boy, I don’t even know what to say” and I know what when this times come and wisdom is given it ain’t from this young lady!
      Pride and mans knowledge often gets in the way, which I’ve learned that the hard way as well and am very thankful for the life lessons God has taught me . But when we are walking in the spirit, praying in the spirit, staying the word, praying the spirit down to come upon us, why would we expect any less!? Ask in faith and receive it! Pastor or not! He works through us all! We all have special abilities that he born us with for his purposes and we all receive different gifts, but the difference is ability is for everyday calling use, gifts are when the Holy Ghost is upon us! It’s His power not ours! And I’m so thankful he made it that way! Could imagine if we had that type of power on our own!? What a dreadful place this would be nor would it be as mighty either bc God is mighty above all!
      Just wish so bad we could all step all this out to the streets! That’s the biggest heartache I’ve had lately! People wanna be filled but they don’t get filled, and it’s bc they go to church get filled and use it for absolutely nothing!
      We have a job here ! A huge one as the ambassadors of Jesus! And we HAVE the brotherhood as coheir with Christ! What the heck are we doing!? Come on church! Let’s go!

  32. Sou5 on February 13, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Beware if you come to Malaysia. There’s a pastor who preaches and teaches do this do that don’t to this don’t do that if you can’t accept teaching you are proud and etc.. but his actions contradict his teaching. When he has something against someone or when someone does something bad to him he will curse you,threaten to harm you,bypass you proudly and gossip bad about you in his church,to people and etc.. and even his assistant pastor and church members are like that too. I’m fed up and fume up with this kind of hypocrite proud pastor. Before he became a pastor he was not proud and arrogant but now that he become he is proud and has change 360 degree. Moreover when he does wrong, he does not admit and acknowledge his wrongs and does not apologize(Like he teach(Truly disgusted with this pastor)). This pastor and his church members especially his assistant pastor and one brother have caused TREMENDOUS hurt,offense,strife and horrendous ordeals to a lot of people & families.. Pity them..
    If only these pastor don’t exist.

  33. ZombieStomper on August 12, 2016 at 6:45 am

    As an associate pastor, I know that we in church leadership are held to a much higher standard. That being said, we pastors shouldn’t use our position (which should be of servant, shepherd, and protector of the flock) as an excuse to treat others with despite, condescendingly, or like they’re a bother when they come to us with a problem. We need to also realize that as pastors, it most certainly does not give us the right to project an air of superiority; as you mentioned, we are there to serve, not to be served. I appreciate your writings, and look forward to reading many more of them.

  34. Steve Walker on August 11, 2016 at 7:54 am

    you walk around with the church credit card and buy coffees for people making them think that you are spending your own money on them

  35. Rick McNeely on December 27, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Hi all. I’m an atheist. If more pastors acted as you believe, there would be fewer people like me. I’m not going to offer an opinion on whether or not that would be a good thing.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 27, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      Rick…thanks for reading this post. And thanks for being open enough to leave a comment with a trace of hope. A bunch of us are working on it. I pray your path leads you to Jesus. He is far more amazing than any of us or all of us.

    • Randy on March 27, 2018 at 11:35 am

      Thanks Rick, If more people would graciously direct us in our short comings, and be open minded that we Christians are not all the same we would all be better off and able to communicate.

    • Joe on July 21, 2018 at 7:04 am

      Than you Rick!

  36. John Crowe on August 22, 2015 at 6:17 am

    I would add a very important flip side to number 4. “Not being an expert in what we should be an expert in” We expect a lawyer to know law and how to apply it to our lives. We expect a doctor to know medicine and sometimes extra medical knowledge in a specialty.

    I think we hurt ourselves when we know far more about all sorts of issues in life and society but we don’t know our book, the Bible, well enough to help real people with real lives churched or unchurched to connect them with biblical truth and ultimately with God in dealing with their questions and issues.

    We should after years of being in ministry know the Bible better and see how to apply it better than we are able to like at the start of our ministry. We expect the same of more experienced lawyers and doctors. I think we should expect no less of ourselves.

    I think we hurt ourselves by not being and growing as an expert in our book which is our major tool. By expert, I mean more that knowing a lot about the Bible, but actually knowing the Bible. Too much of what passes as bible study gets all focused on areas about the bible instead of making the actual content of the Bible our focus while letting other things function as tools.

    I’ve met many clergy who can tell me a whole lot about what they learned in seminary about the bible as well as about various theologians and issues, but are woefully ignorant otherwise.

    Even if a pastor does not know or ever want to know NT Greek, many would benefit from reading an old classic “The Minister and His Greek New Testament” by A.T. Robertson.

  37. Donald McLeod Carmont on July 20, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Carry… I LOVE your stuff! I was a pastor for 20 years, and for the past 25 have observed a lot of things. I, too, love our Lord and His Church, and find your insights on target and highly valuable.

  38. obumom on March 20, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Accessibility…but maybe that’s just a problem of being a member of a huge church.

  39. Lisa Mior on January 18, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Keep on doing exactly what you are doing. It’s working. Based in the faces and overheard conversations exiting Connexus Orillia today (Jan 18/15) for the second installment on “Overwhelmed”, your delivery was amazing. Showing the human side of you and sharing your struggle with discouragement years ago and your fight back was so heartfelt and real. You even said this was a difficult issue to talk about however Carey, you touched upon all of our lives this morning. Jon Gonzales expressed his feelings that Connexus and all it stands for helped him and continues to feel like a safe and warm place to be. I get so enthusiastic hearing the various bands every week. You, Dan and all the wonderful staff keep it real. I live for Sunday services and wouldn’t ever say that growing up. Once again, thank you for your inspiration.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 18, 2015 at 7:25 pm

      Lisa…Wow! Thank you! I really appreciate the feedback and I’m so glad God used the service and the series so far in the way he did.

      Love that Jon Gonzales…he has such a great heart.

      So thankful for all that God is doing at Connexus these days. Very grateful to be part of it.

  40. Jeff Hooper on January 8, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Great post Carey! As I am praying (that is all I am doing right now) about church planting it excites me to read your posts. I really believe the local church (no specific church, really) has complicated church at so many levels. Thank you for being authentic, real and a great teacher. Go get ’em! 🙂 My wife and I would love to come and visit you church this year, especially since I have dual citizenship.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 8, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      Jeff…thank you so much for the encouragement. Really appreciate it! We’d love to host you. Let us know when you’re coming!

  41. Heidi Murdoch on January 7, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    It really bothered be that a pastor who visited me in the hospital who told me I was there because I didn’t have enough faith in God. Yes, I was emotionally distraught but it had nothing to do with my faith. Come to find out it was due to work-related sleep deprivation, stress, poor nutrition and food sensitivities. I was on call 24/7 for days at a time. I didn’t ask for his opinion. I needed ministered to with a few of God’s promises, but that didn’t happen. He prayed and that was the only positive thing. I am not sure what you want to call this experience.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 7, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      Heidi…that’s just really sad. I think that’s what you call it. I’m so sorry. Keep believing. Keep trusting.

      And I hope you got a break. I love the quote from I think Dallas Willard that says “70% of discipleship is a good night’s sleep”. There’s truth to that. Sometimes we underspiritualize things. Sometimes we overspiritualize them. Hope you’re feeling better.

      • Heidi Murdoch on January 7, 2015 at 11:24 pm

        Yes, I am, Thanks for asking. 🙂 It did not shake my faith one bit. The heavenly father is there for us when others fail us.

      • siah on November 14, 2020 at 11:44 am

        Thanks for this message
        I would have loved to share it with my pastor but I can’t because it will make him to get more arrogant than he already is. He loves to play God and thus he feels he is always right. Our church is over 11 years but we don’t have 30 permanent members. He is still blaming people instead of checking and mending his ways. Its so unfortunate that am currently stuck in the church. I love God but my pastor is making me to dislike church

  42. Rian on January 6, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    I recently visited the UMC in Ormand Beach, Florida. They had several spots near the front door designated “visitors only”. Hmmmmmmmm………….

  43. Malachi3 on January 5, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Thank you, Carey. These are all things that have been a concern to me for years. I have failed to find the words. “Preach against” in the Word, but easy to find, “Proclaim the good news (Gospel).” Years ago, as an associate pastor, I intentionally sat at the back of the room at a banquet and was called to the front table. The Word works. I now consider myself working “under cover” for the most part. I love it. I can be normal and when a situation comes up that needs some “pastoring” I sometimes get the privilege. Wouldn’t have it any other way, but I still have a lot to learn. Taking Jesus’ words literally has helped me immensely!

  44. Judith on January 4, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Interesting discussion of parking places. We are trying to foster an awareness of all baptized Christians being called to minister so, one Sunday, our Senior Warden printed “Minister” on all the parking spaces in our small lot. Despite all our education, many people drove around the lot unsure of where they could park since they thought the spaces were reserved for the “ministers.” We have more teaching to do…

  45. Joshua Wilson on December 26, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    How bout posting politically pointed FB posts that knowingly isolates half your audience?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 27, 2014 at 11:47 am

      Great point Joshua. I think this is where my Canadian neutrality is an advantage (I realize some will not call it neutrality…but I digress). I sometimes see posts from US folks on Facebook that really make it seem like God belongs to a political party. I don’t get that. I think Tim Keller addresses that issue brilliantly from his pulpit in Manhattan, doing a great job of transcending both Democratic and Republican worldviews.

  46. Skip on December 20, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Our church has limited parking that is pavement, so even though I am almost the first there every Sunday, I park as an example in our grass lot carrying all the things I have to bring to church. But if I can’t park there I can’t expect my people to park further away either.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 20, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      That’s great leadership. Way to go Skip.

  47. Skip on December 19, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    I enjoyed the article however, Not sure what you meant on #2, “A pastor’s prayers don’t go directly to heaven.” Where do they go then, cause every child of God has access to the throne, including pastors.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 19, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      Great catch. Probably should have said “A pastor’s prayers don’t go directly to heaven any more than anyone else’s do”. Bingo.

      • Matt on July 20, 2015 at 1:13 am

        I thought the same thing. Thanks for clarifying your view there.

  48. Anton Lim on December 17, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    As someone who attends the church you lead Carey, I am very aware of the conscious choice of words you choose to communicate. I’m sure after many years of experience a lot of it is sub-conscious, but every week I listen to you communicate I’m very aware of the words you choose in place of other church-speak jargon.
    Even as Connexus heads towards moving into a permanent location, leadership has been very purposeful in referring to the building as a permanent facility from which we can operate out of for two cities. If I’m not mistaken, there is a conscious choice not to use the phrase “We’re going to move into our church soon.”
    All the other points you made are great. I just felt compelled to affirm you in the first one. Thanks Carey.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 18, 2014 at 5:43 am

      Anton…so appreciate you and so appreciate this. And yes, you are right on. We chose the words very carefully and try to always be intentional in what we say. I think words have power we don’t fully appreciate. Thanks! So thankful you and your family are part of what God’s doing at Connexus.

  49. Mr. Cadillac on December 15, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Then there’s the pastor who quotes the Greek as though it solves the issue because he knows that no one (he supposes) knows Greek. I’m a Greek scholar and find that those who dangle Greek words have no idea of the correct nuance of them. Study κοινη Greek in your office, but turn it into common English in the pulpit. Remember if there is mist in the pulpit, there is fog in the pews.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 18, 2014 at 5:43 am

      Good point.

    • Matt on July 20, 2015 at 1:15 am

      Its not a bad idea to use a greek or hebrew word in the pulpit but use it as an illistration. Translate it for them like you would with latin. break it down and help them.

  50. Circle Thomas on December 15, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    This is good stuff. I’d add to #4, pastors/priests who feel the need to answer a question they don’t know with some Biblical verse, which oftentimes just feels completely random and irrelevant to the hearer.

  51. ralph juthman on December 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    How about pastors who use vulgarity or crude language just to sound like ‘one of the guys’ people still expect more from us and they should.

  52. Steve on December 13, 2014 at 10:01 am

    A wonderful article…just think the title needs to be changed…these are 5 things that give pastors a bad name with ANYONE.

  53. […] Carey Neiuwhof: 5 Things That Give Pastors A Bad Name With Unchurched People […]

  54. Kit Sonoda on December 13, 2014 at 5:59 am

    Thanks Carey for your thoughtful and insightful words.

  55. Betty on December 12, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    The last few I been around are good at getting other people to do stuff, but they don’t do task themselves.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 13, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      That’s not leadership. Effective leaders don’t do everything, but they work hard at what they can do best to further the mission.

  56. FlowerPower89 on December 12, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    General Patton was terrified of being called to be a minister, he wanted to be a soldier, not a minister! He knew, when you got the call to be a Minister, you could NOT say “NO” to God because it was the highest calling of all! He was relieved when he didn’t get the call! 🙂
    Joanne K

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      Did not know that! Wow.

    • Don on December 15, 2014 at 1:41 am

      Priesthood of all would suggest it’s not the “highest” calling since all are called … that could be number six, talking about being called which is only meant to elevate one person over another.

      • Matt on July 20, 2015 at 1:16 am

        That depends on the denominational view of the person though. Some don’t believe in Priesthood of all.

  57. […] 5 Things That Give Pastors A Bad Name With Unchurched People by Carey Nieuwhof […]

  58. Roger Fritts on December 12, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Interesting responses. “Employee only parking” is fairly common in our society at hospitals, schools and other institutions. My ministry involves coming and going from the church to attend community events and visit members. My congregation apparently does not think it is a good use of my time to cruise around looking for a parking space each time I return to the church, so they provide me and other full time staff with designated parking spaces. This makes me feel good because it says to me they value my time and the work that I do. I suspect that people who get upset because a minister has a parking space have been hurt by religion in bigger more important ways and the parking spot is symbolic of that pain.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 13, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      Roger, I think in truly urban areas where parking is at a premium reserved parking can be essential. Many leaders simply see it as a perk. That’s what I’m against. We’ll have lots of parking at our new facility. I won’t reserve one for me. Sundays, I’ll park out back so guests get prime space.

      • Jimbo on December 15, 2014 at 8:44 pm

        I am a Pastor in a church in Georgia, and I removed the Reserved for Staff parking signs, and encourage staff to park furthest away and walk, to allow others to use the better spots. Not slamming the other guys, but I just think when we think we deserve something special for what we do for God, we’ve lost sight of the the essential teaching of Jesus that says we must become servants of all…others before ourselves, always.

        • Matt on July 20, 2015 at 1:17 am

          Jimbo, can I ask what church? Im also in Georgia and I love visiting other Churches when I’m not preaching.

  59. Links for Leaders 12/12/14 | Do You Really Believe? on December 12, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    […] pastor has a significant effect on how the unchurched community views the local church as a whole. Carey Nieuwhof has some helpful thoughts on that this […]

  60. Links for Leaders 12/12/14 - Eric Geiger on December 12, 2014 at 10:51 am

    […] pastor has a significant effect on how the unchurched community views the local church as a whole. Carey Nieuwhof has some helpful thoughts on that this […]

  61. Today in Blogworld 12.12.14 - Borrowed Light on December 12, 2014 at 10:08 am

    […] 5 Things That Give Pastors a Bad Name […]

  62. Roger Fritts on December 12, 2014 at 9:22 am

    I have a reserved parking space. When others park in it, I put a note on their window. “We are really glad you are here and we would never tow anyone. However, next time you visit please do not park in my space. Having my own parking space is one of the few perks that I get for serving as a minister. It makes me feel good to drive up and park in my space. Again, we are glad you are here! The minister.”

    • Elldee on December 12, 2014 at 10:25 am

      If I ever had a note like that put on my car, I would think “who does he think he is?!?!?!” and probably would not ever come back.

      Many years ago, when I was fairly new to my church, I brought my mom to our mother-daughter banquet. She asked me who one of the men serving the women was, and I said that he’s the pastor. She was incredulous. You see, in her church, the pastor always had a seat at the front table, and even at a buffet, he was served first and didn’t have to go through the line. My mom was so impressed with my pastor’s humble attitude of service that she attended my church often, and when she knew she was dying, made it clear she wanted my pastor to participate in her funeral service.

    • karstealy on December 12, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      I think that’s a terrible idea. How selfish. Unless you are handicapped and absolutely CANNOT walk, you should park as far away as possible. What a terrible way to “welcome” someone. I would never return.

      • UrbanGirl on December 14, 2014 at 6:17 pm

        “Selfish” on whose part? The person parking in a designated spot knew the spot was reserved and chose to park there anyway. If that was done anywhere else, the car could have been ticketed and towed. If that person is already so selfish as to park in a clearly identified spot, maybe it isn’t so bad if they don’t return.


    • vbscript2 on December 12, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      I really hope you’re joking…

    • Karen Johnson on December 13, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Is this a real comment? If I got a note on my windshield like that, no matter how nice, I would never return to that church. Really arrogant of you pastor

    • Glinda on December 13, 2014 at 9:32 am

      I’m on the staff of a church. We have a tiny parking lot (7 spaces) for the staff to use during the week. The city-owned lot adjacent to the church charges $3 per hour M-F, so having our own lot is very much appreciated. So, when anyone (who isn’t staff) parks on the tiny lot during the week, this forces the staff to pay to park on the city lot. We are not reimbursed for this. The staff have never left a note for anyone. We just take our lumps.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 13, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      See Roger’s comment above everyone. I’ve seen inner city churches with no parking. Thanks for the clarification Roger. I share my other thoughts above. 🙂

      • Dennis on December 31, 2014 at 10:48 pm

        I’ve been pastoring in the same city with many of the same people for going on 41 years. It’s funny that all this parking opinion has missed a simple servants heart on reaching unchurched people. Jesus didn’t even own his own donkey.

    • hummingbug on January 8, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      This would be entirely off-putting to me… especially where you put “having my own parking space is one of the few perks I get for serving as a minister.” It just isn’t worded in a way that brings glory to God or credence to your calling. It says, to me, “look, getting here each Sunday is a feat. I’m weary and exhausted of the work I do. I deserve this space because despite that, I’m still here with a smile plastered on my face and that means something.” I could be off base, but That’s how I would read it and I would infer that you didn’t really care to be at that church since clearly this is one of the few “perks” your congregation could afford you.

      In the end, it’s just a parking spot. And if you didn’t get a chance to speak with that person (people) who parked in that spot before they left your church, you spent more time critiquing them than you did building them up…

      • Roger Fritts on January 8, 2015 at 3:35 pm

        From the NYT
        By VIVIAN S. TOY
        Published: August 1, 1996

        For years, many doctors, teachers, politicians and reporters have been able to do something that most New Yorkers could only dream about: park legally in an illegal space. Yesterday, the City Council voted to create a new category of privileged parkers: the clergy.

        The Council unanimously passed a bill that would allow clergy members to park next to their places of worship for up to four hours, and near hospitals or funeral parlors for up to three hours — allowing them to avoid the time-honored tradition of driving first one block beyond their destination, then two, then three or more, just to find a legal spot. Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is expected to sign it, making New York what Council members say is the first city in the nation to extend parking privileges to the clergy.

        Clergy members from a variety of denominations had lobbied the Council for years for the privilege, complaining that they were constantly getting tickets while doing their jobs. They argued that since doctors and dentists could do it, why not them? After all, they said, doctors may heal the body, but the clergy heal the soul.

        Council members concluded that because the clergy often have to respond to emergencies, they should not have to circle block upon block looking for parking spaces.

        ”It is difficult when you are called to go to a hospital in the middle of the night and you can find no place to park, or you conduct a funeral and come out to find your car has been towed,” said Wendell Foster, a Bronx Councilman who is also a senior minister at the United Church of Christ on Forest Avenue. ”This is a necessary bill.”

        Mr. Foster said he had tried to introduce a similar bill more than 10 years ago, but backed off when conflict of interest questions were raised because he is a part-time minister. But he said the new bill defined ”clergy” narrowly enough to make him ineligible for a clergy permit. (Of course, as a City Council member, he has a special permit that allows him to park in illegal zones when he is on ”official business.”)

        Under the bill, only full-time clergy members whose primary source of income is their religious work would be eligible for the parking privileges. The Department of Transportation would issue permits to officially recognized houses of worship; each permit would cover up to three clergy members affiliated with that house of worship.

        City officials said they expected that the restrictions would limit the number of clergy permits to ”a couple hundred” — only a fraction of the thousands of ministers, imams, rabbis and priests in New York City.

        The specifications are intended to guarantee that only legitimate clergy members ministering to the sick, dying, or bereaved would get the parking privileges, and to weed out church volunteers who want to park illegally while dropping off a pot of spaghetti for a church social.

        ”We tried to work it out so there would be no abuse,” said Noach Dear, a Brooklyn Democrat and chairman of the Council’s Transportation Committee. ”Because, of course, I was concerned about issuing another permit,” he added, rolling his eyes.

        Council members said they also tried to define houses of worship carefully enough to make sure that enterprising New Yorkers do not suddenly decide to start calling their bedrooms places of prayer to get free parking in front of their apartment buildings. The bill explicitly excludes residences. Any church, synagogue, temple, or mosque also would have to be used principally for ”divine worship” and be registered at the city Buildings Department as a place of assembly to be eligible. But the bill does not specify which religious denominations it applies to.

        For Rabbi Larry Sebert, who lobbied the Council for the bill on behalf of the New York Board of Rabbis, the bill’s passage was welcome news. ”On any given day, I’ll have to do a funeral, three hospital visits, the whole gamut,” he said, noting that he is ticketed a few times every month and received a $55 ticket on Tuesday for parking in front of his synagogue during morning services.

        The combination of parking fines and hefty garage fees to avoid tickets was a hardship for many clergy members, he said. ”Being able to stop quickly at the hospital is certainly a tremendous help, both for the clergy, and I believe, for the congregants,” Rabbi Sebert said.

        Councilman Martin Malave-Dilan, a Brooklyn Democrat, introduced a more sweeping bill in early 1994, but no decisive action was taken until recently, when the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and leaders of Protestant and Jewish groups started lobbying Mr. Dear.

        The bill passed yesterday was significantly narrower than the original version, which would have allowed unlimited parking near houses of worship, hospitals, funeral homes and jails.

        ”We made sure this is not just a new, free parking spot for them,” Mr. Dear said. ”But it was the right thing to do, because they’re God’s messengers and this is a way to show respect for what they do in a practical way.”

  63. Richard A McKinley on December 11, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    The thing that is very, very off-putting for me… and maybe it is more prevalent here in the southern US… is to be asked… or assaulted… with the question: Are you saved? Often before we have even begun to converse. And often after I have been asked what church I go to… and the questioner doesn’t like the answer. As a Christian I hate that question. I can only imagine how a non-churched person must feel when that is the first or second thing out of your mouth.

    • keith on December 12, 2014 at 7:58 am

      I once went to a church and the pastor spoke directly to me saying I was holding back and should crossover the threshold and accepting God. He didn’t know I had previously been a worship leader at several churches. That in itself doesn’t mean I worship in spirit and truth but, based on the sermon he gave, I believe he just wanted to add me to his donor list.

      • Carey Nieuwhof on December 12, 2014 at 9:18 am

        Great—and sad—points Richard and Keith. Thank you.

  64. Mark on December 11, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    I am a different Mark than the one below.

    The same things could be said for giving a pastor a bad name among churched people. If the pastor is only doing the dirty work of the leadership, then there is a problem in the congregation. If the leadership is upset over something, they should have the guts to get up and speak, not hide behind the pastor. I have heard sermons which I knew the pastor did not want to give. I have a strong feeling that he was told to give it.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 12, 2014 at 9:18 am

      Mark…ouch. Oh man, that’s hard. I can honestly say I have never delivered a message I haven’t personally been convicted over. I can’t imagine the dynamics behind giving one you were told to give. Wow.

    • Matt on July 20, 2015 at 1:23 am

      Mark, thanks for that. I see it a lo. Its one of the reasons myself and the associate pastors at our church are hesitant at connecting with a denomination that may force a decision that we can’t work with.

      • Mark on July 20, 2015 at 9:27 pm

        This was in a nondenominational church.

  65. Mark on December 11, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    I’m a pastor, and I do not have a reserved parking spot. I don’t want one. Just today I pulled into the church next door and saw they have a spot reserved for the pastor closest to the door. I had the same thoughts you did. It just didn’t seem right.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 12, 2014 at 9:17 am

      Doesn’t make sense to me. My reserved spot happens in my driveway at home, that’s all.

      • PeaceBang on December 13, 2014 at 10:04 pm

        Not that this is the most important part of your post, but these boastings about not wanting a reserved parking spot are very gender-based. I am alone in the building a lot late at night. I want to be able to get out the door and to my car without walking through a dark parking lot.

        • Matt on July 20, 2015 at 1:25 am

          If you are alone late at night, park where ever you feel safest. I think this is meant for service times where the church has others there. I would think that it would be fine to have a spot right next to the door during working hours or late at night, but for a time that you want the church to be full (sermons, special events, ect.) park in the back. Thats what Im getting from this post at least

          • PeaceBang on July 20, 2015 at 5:52 am

            Matt, have you ever hear of mansplaining? You’re doing it. I know what Cary meant. What you’re not getting is that being a woman pastor has a completely different set of security issues, some of them around personal boundaries. Have you ever had a random guy meet you at a church service and give you unwanted and unwelcome sexual attention? Have you ever gone to church intending to stay a few hours and wound up there until 9 PM, alone in a wooded area? Have you ever had a violent ex? Or a stalker? Or been raped by a “friend?” Stop interpreting blog posts for women and start making the world safer and more sane for us. That’s what would help. We shouldn’t live in a world where we need to get into our cars fast and safely at day or night.

          • Matt on August 1, 2015 at 1:24 pm

            No, I’m explaining my take on the article and comment. That’s it, nothing more. And its the same set of security issues. The town I’m from has people get stabbed and shot all the time so its a similar issue of safety. Have I ever had a random person meet me at service and follow me around? Yeah. Stayed longer than I meant to? Yeah. Had a stalker? actually, yeah. (No ex’s to have to worry about though, so there’s that). Raped, no but beat up and threatened with death, yeah. I wasn’t attempting to interpret anything for women, but simply making a comment. Please re-read that with the lens of speaking to either gender. I wasn’t attempting to be rude but I do stand by what I said. (And if everyone leaves and you’re still there for some reason, just move your car around while its day light so you dont have to worry about it)

      • Don Johnston on March 20, 2018 at 2:14 pm

        Yeah, and my wife or daughter usually park in it…LOL

  66. […] 5 Things That Give Pastors A Bad Name With Unchurched People — Carey Nieuwhof […]

  67. […] shelboese Leave a comment https://careynieuwhof.com/2014/12/5-things-give-pastors-bad-name-unchurched-people/ By Carey Nieuwhof I’ve been a pastor since I was 30 years old, but even now, I still don’t […]

  68. Keith on December 11, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Seeming to not care by not being connected to people. I have been in church leadership and I’ve heard this many times. I was out and no one called or showed any interest at all. I was in a church of 700 members, on the worship team and signed up as a member. I invited people to lunch, birthday parties, bible studies etc. However I never could develop any close friendships. No one had time. Everyone loved God but not each other. I can understand a pastor can’t call everyone all the time but, the church culture is a result of the structure and expectations of the staff and laypastors of a church. I have many secular friendships.

    • Big Giant Head on December 11, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      Churches of 700 never allow a pastor to have time to develop relationships. Its impossible. The average person has the ability to know, somewhat, about 150 people.

      • keith on December 12, 2014 at 8:01 am

        I totally agree. But shouldn’t he know the church leadership. I.e. the worship team.

        • Carey Nieuwhof on December 12, 2014 at 9:17 am

          I think you guys are keying into something: capacity. But I agree Keith, knowing leaders is key. We have over 2000 people who call our church home and about 400+ volunteers. I try hard to know all their names but it’s work! Also work to remember the names of as many people attenders as I can.

          • Big Giant Head on December 12, 2014 at 9:39 am

            I pastor a church of 350. I have been criticized for not visiting (at their homes) everybody. It’s impossible. I have worked hard for eight years to create an atmosphere that people can call me at any time if there is a pastoral need. I’m getting there. As I reach an age where I think retirement (whatever that may look like) is viewable in the future, I really would like to pastor a church of less than 200, I think there is an opportunity to impact more lives if one can focus better.

          • FlowerPower89 on December 12, 2014 at 8:13 pm

            Carey, I think you do a wonderful job of remembering our names. I can tell you work at it. It does matter! Thank you!
            Joanne K

    • vbscript2 on December 12, 2014 at 11:56 am

      While a preacher should try to get to know as many people as they can at the church… so should everyone else. No one person can know what’s going on in everyone’s life in a large congregation… especially if they’re not told. This is part of the reason why the Biblical model assigns this responsibility to a group of elders (also referred to as overseers, bishops, etc. in the Bible,) not to a single person who also happens to the preacher. Also, while the responsibility is not as great as it is with the elders, knowing and caring for others in the church is *every* member’s job, not just one person’s or a small group of people’s job. No one can have a close relationship with 500 people, let alone 2,000 people, but those people can – and should – have close relationships with others in the church.

  69. Notable Voices: December 11, 2014 - ThomRainer.com on December 11, 2014 at 6:00 am

    […] 5 Things That Give Pastors A Bad Name With Unchurched People — Carey Nieuwhof […]

  70. john on December 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    I think you are a nice guy. Great points. Ok so you needed a pseudonym and grabbed tiles from a scrabble bag. . Could you try another handfull of letters. . Aim for a pronouneable set .. try a few times. I have time here.. I can vet them for you. 🙂

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 12, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Good stuff Jon. Deleted the h. Just too much for me. 🙂

  71. Leo on December 9, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Hello Carey, I just want to ask if you have a blog about Young Pastors who are already leading a church. Im Leo from Philippines.

  72. This is worth your time. on December 9, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    […] 5 Things That Give (Christians) A Bad Name: “Cool church isn’t nearly as powerful as authentic church. … Many of us are scared to say ‘I’m not sure.’ So we’re tempted to offer an ill-considered viewpoint on something we don’t fully understand. Even worse, some of us can gain social media traction through those ill-considered opinions.” Read more… […]

  73. Brent Dumler on December 9, 2014 at 10:55 am

    There’s not much worse than a pastor earning a bad name among his/her own staff. And micromanaging can definitely cause this. When we simply cannot allow our staff to lead and make decisions in the church without our rubber stamp of approval we communicate mistrust. When we do that, overall morale and creativity inevitably shrivel up and vanish. This never helps the kingdom reach the lost.

  74. Lawrence W. Wilson on December 9, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Carey, this may be a hybrid of 3 & 4, but it’s very easy for us to slip into advice giving mode–with people who aren’t actually seeking advice. Nothing is more annoying than being told what your problem is when you haven’t asked. Even if the speaker is correct.

    One more? There’s a kind of pastorish persona, especially here in the Midwest, that I think is terribly off-putting. It’s not so much the language (your #1) but a way of acting that is falsely warm, happy, and concerned all that the same time.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 9, 2014 at 11:06 am

      So true. Great points Larry!

    • Richard A McKinley on December 11, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      This is soooo true. I’m not a pastor, but a lay leader. I am a chiropractor, and I cannot tell you how many times I have seen healthcare providers immediately jump in and start giving advice without even asking rudimentary questions first or seeking to find out what is really the matter… all of us… medical, chiropractic, holistic, etc. I am thinking of one particular church conference where the announcement went out “Is there a chiropractor in the house?” to minister to the speaker who couldn’t go on… I went out front to see him and he was being lectured by an MD about what exercises he should do in the mornings, etc. The man was in pain and couldn’t stand up straight!! He didn’t need to hear what he should do when he wasn’t in pain… even IF the MD’s advice was correct which it might not have been. And another prayer meeting where a parishioner asked me about her friend with migraines. I replied that I would have to see her and ask her questions and figure things out, but a holistic provider jumped in and started prescribing a whole course of treatment. The patient wasn’t even there! So… you’re right!! LISTEN!! ASK!! Don’t assume. And don’t come across as a know-it-all.

  75. keli on December 9, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Defending bad behavior of other pastors.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 9, 2014 at 11:07 am

      Great point. I don’t think you should malign other people publicly, but that doesn’t mean you have to defend them. You can empathize with the situation, express concern and leave it at that.

  76. Robin on December 8, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Great blog… I always enjoy the benefit of your wisdom Pastor Nieuwhof!

    As a ministry leader and devoted church member… here’s what I would add:

    1) that you need to be visible in the community. Many pastors and leadership teams who are trying to reach the unchurched are relying on members and attenders to ‘invite, invite, invite’… which don’t get me wrong.. isn’t necessarily a bad thing… but it sort of negates the command to “go out.”

    2) the other thing that I would add… is to value your key leaders and volunteers… don’t treat people like they are disposable. If 100 people… key leaders and volunteers… seasoned Christians leave your church in less than a year… AND they’ve tried to handle their “discontent” biblically and walked truth in love multiple times… but you’ve simply ignored them… well.. that’s fairly telling.. don’t you think? ESPECIALLY to new people and baby Christians.

    • Robin on December 8, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      p.s. hit share before I could go back to #1 and elaborate.. lol. When you are visible in the community… ministering the lost and broken… it tells your community you care about it. Being inward focused tells the community at large that you only care about your own small community of believers.

      • Carey Nieuwhof on December 8, 2014 at 10:32 pm

        Great points Robin. Thanks. I agree with both. Sounds like your church has been through some tough times lately. Sorry to hear that!

        • Robin on December 8, 2014 at 11:49 pm

          Thank you… although I will admit that I’m a little embarrassed that some residual pain came through in my comments.

          Honestly it’s all good. God called me out of the boat back in April which was super scary and completely caught me off guard… but despite my fear… I had peace with my decision, obeyed… and the work He is and has been doing both in my respective ministry and my “new” church as a whole has been nothing short of amazing. Of course people are people and people go to church.. so it’s not “perfect”… but God is definitely moving.

          As an aside and given that it was apparent I was speaking from experience… I would like to be completely honest here and say that I certainly didn’t handle myself 100% rightly towards the tail end of the hurt and conflict in my previous church. Regardless… I love my former pastor and church family and pray for them often.

          But I digress… I worry for pastors and leaders during these times. I fear that in our quest to be relevant… to be the “cool church”… that we actually end up being the antithesis of relevancy… especially due to the insidious nature of sin / ego.

          • Carey Nieuwhof on December 9, 2014 at 6:48 am

            Robin that’s awesome…so glad you are working through that. You may have done this, but if you ever have the chance to tell your pastor what you own and to have a final conversation, I think that could be very healing. People often forget that as much as ‘they’ have to work through broken relationships, pastors do as well. It hurts on both sides. Thanks for raising this issue. Appreciate it and I wish you well!

          • Robin on December 9, 2014 at 3:28 pm

            I agree… I attempted biblical reconciliation a few times. Sadly when one side is demanding grace and forgiveness but unwilling to reciprocate – it’s hard to achieve genuine restoration. It’s okay though… he has my forgiveness even if he doesn’t receive it.. God knows my heart 🙂

          • Carey Nieuwhof on December 10, 2014 at 6:26 am

            Good for you Robin. That’s a hard one, but it sounds like you did your part. Way to go.

    • Lawrence W. Wilson on December 9, 2014 at 8:16 am

      Robin, I so agree, especially with #1. It’s very easy for pastors (I speak as one) to become systems managers, even in smaller or mid-sized churches. You’ve got to be out there in the mud.

    • Marcus on August 8, 2020 at 2:51 pm

      Or howabout…

      6) The “pastor” that only cares about the “unchurched” (Carey, it’s ok to say “sinner.” It really is.) while completely ignoring his faithful parishioners who pay him boatloads of tithes that scripture doesn’t require because “evangelism” and “growing the church” is far more important than ministering to and discipling the flock. You know…the pastor’s JOB.

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