I recently came across a blog post that quotes Kevin DeYoung’s book, Why We Love the Church, with some of the typical complaints leveled against the church. We need to love the church, warts and all, because the church is people.

I have tweaked DeYoung’s quote a little into a list of favorite church complaints.

1. The church is lame. The ‘church-is-lame’ crowd hates Constantine and notions of Christendom, but they want the church to be a patron of the arts, and run after-school programs, and bring the world together in peace and love.

2. The church is too-programmatic. This crowd bemoans the over-programmed church, but then think of a hundred complex, resource-hungry things the church should be doing.

3. The church is too hierarchical. This crowd doesn’t like the church because it is too hierarchical, but then they hate it when it has poor leadership.

4. The church needs to be more diverse. They wish the church could be more diverse, but then leave to meet in a coffee shop with other well-educated thirtysomethings who are into film festivals, NPR, and carbon offsets.

5. The church needs to feel more like family. They want more of a family spirit, but too much family and they’ll complain that the church is ‘inbred.’

6. The church needs to be a better witness. They want the church to know that its reputation with outsiders is terrible, but then are critical when the church is too concerned with appearances.

7. The church needs to be more involved in social justice. They chide the church for not doing more to address social problems, but then complain when the church gets too political.

8. The church is too divided. They want church unity and decry all our denominations, but fail to see the irony in the fact that they have left to do their own thing because they can’t find a single church that can satisfy them.

9. The church needs better community.  They are critical of the lack of community in the church, but then want services that allow for individualized worship experiences, or are quick to head for the door when conflict heats up.

10. The church needs visionary leaders. They want leaders with vision, but don’t want anyone to tell them what to do or how to think.

11. The church needs to care for people better. They want a church where the people really know each other and care for each other, but then they complain the church today is an isolated country club, only interested in catering to its own members.

12. The church needs to reconnect with its history. They want to be connected to history, but are sick of the same prayers and same style every week.

13. The church needs to be less judgmental. They call for not judging “the spiritual path of other believers who are dedicated to pleasing God and blessing people,” and then they blast the traditional church in the harshest, most unflattering terms.

I can see myself in a lot of these. What criticisms are you most prone to?

3 thoughts on “Favorite Hypocritical Church Complaints

  1. Michael Foster

    I think I’ve made (as a church member) and have heard (as a church pastor) everyone of these complaints at one time or another. I think they all are worthwhile complaints given the right context and we should take seriously. However, I think I would only take them seriously if they came from someone that was willing to work towards a solution in reasonable degrees and steps.

    My biggest complaint has been that leadership is not decentralized enough in most churches. It seems there is always a crazy tight bottleneck. This is dangerous because it can put too much power in the hands of just a few men and/or also put them under a ridiculous amount of pressure. Nonetheless, I’m sure many of us, me included, make this complaint because we think we can do a better and desire power ourselves.

  2. Dennis Clough

    Favorite quote: Elderly lady to Pastor at door,”That sermon was wonderful,Pastor. It didn’t have no doctrine or nuthin’ in it!”

  3. Carla Brooks

    Just starting reading a fictional book “So you don’t want to go to church anymore” by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman dealing with this very subject. Summary on back of book…compelling journal that chronicles 13 conversations w/ newfound friend (John the beloved disciple character)over a four-year period and how those exchanges turn his world upside down…..if you want to mine the depths of what it really means to live deeply in Christ, you’ll find this story will give you hope…This book probes the difficult questions and offers some far-reaching answers….

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