How to Properly Handle Church Complaints


If you’ve worked in a pastoral role for any amount of time, you know full-well that there are people who just love to complain. And generally, most of the complaints received in a church always seem to come from the same few congregation members.

Complaining is a habit in some people – there’s no doubt. And it can be hard to deal with when much of it is aimed directly at you. But complaints can often provide meaningful insight on something that needs to change.

If you are wondering how to properly handle church complaints, these are a few tips:

How to Properly Handle Church Complaints

Handling church complaints is all about keeping a balanced and holistic view of the situation and approaching each case with care and understanding. Being able to recognize the value of certain comments is incredibly important if you are trying to be effective with how you handle church complaints. These are some things to keep in mind as you attempt to properly handle church complaints:

Balance Your Perspective

Make sure you have a few close friends or colleagues who you can inform about the complaints. If it’s the first time you’re being hit with “that” particular complaint or by that particular person, it can be hard to know whether or not it’s a valuable comment worth considering.

Often, through speaking with colleagues, someone may inform you that “he/she has been complaining about this for years.” This type of “perspective balancing” is super important when trying to figure out what you’re going to do with the information.

Address It Right Away

Obviously, take time to seek council, pray, and carefully consider how you will approach the issue, but do not drag it out. Letting a week or two go by before you confront the complainer just makes things worse.

Let them know you value their feedback and that you care about them as a person and member of your church. However, if they are a recurrent complainer, be honest with them about how their comments make you feel. Some people are entirely oblivious to the negative and hurtful effects their words have on others.

Let them know that their comments are heard and either (1) tell them their comments are in consideration, or (2) inform them on why your church won’t be implementing their suggestion, which leads to the next point…

Inform Them How it Will Be Handled

This can certainly be a tough conversation to have, but complainers will continue to complain if they feel their comments are not properly being addressed. If their complaint is worth consideration, let them know that you are actually considering it! But if it’s not something that you’re going to change, they need to know. And they need to know why…

Break the news to them gently on why your ministry won’t be changing what it is they’re commenting on. Give them the reasons behind your response and perhaps some examples of how changing it would negatively affect other aspects of your ministry. Congregation members usually don’t have a holistic understanding of how parts of the ministry affect each other.

Lead by Example

Addressing complaints with reciprocal complaining and negativity only enforces that type of attitude amongst your coworkers and congregation. Lead by example. Handle these situations delicately and practice approaching all aspects of your ministry with a positive attitude. Watch the tone of your own voice when offering suggestions/constructive criticism to others.

Learn how to deal with negativity by practicing and living out active listening and kindness in all your responses. People – both coworkers and congregation members – tend to reflect the behavior of their leadership. Encouraging gentleness and patience in the way you handle complaints is crucial to grow a healthy culture in your ministry.

Chris Fleming, Author

About the Author

Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as TAYA, Big Daddy Weave, and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the worship music scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris is the Motion Designer at Motion Worship, helping to create motion background collections and countdowns for our subscribers.

Leave a Comment

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