Letter from a ‘Concerned Church Member’

by Jared C. Wilson January 27, 2017

Dear Pastor,

I have thought a long time about whether I should write this letter to you. You know that I'm not one to complain. But after talking it over with five or ten other folks in the congregation and realizing that some people had similar concerns, I thought you had the right to know. Below are some suggestions to consider.

First, we need to talk about your upcoming vacation. The last time you went out of town, you didn't respond to any emails, which was pretty disappointing. We didn't feel we could reach you in a timely fashion, and I'm sure you agree that it's not good if a flock can't reach their shepherd. We're happy you're able to get away with your family, but we don't want you to forget your responsibility to us. Jesus said the church was more important than family, remember. So we want you to have a good time and relax — you deserve it! — but please pay better attention to your inbox and voicemails.

Secondly, it's come to our attention that last week when one of our dear sisters was visiting in your home she noticed your children were playing games on computer tablets. You know that sister doesn't like nosing around, but she knows that they are fairly pricey. Your finances are none of our business, of course, but please consider how this looks.

I heard you were thinking about buying a newer car too, and you should probably know people are talking about that. Just want you to be aware.

Generally speaking, we think you're doing a great job. But there are some areas of improvement we've noticed. Here are some suggestions we came up with for you:

– We want you to very humble and transparent, but don't make us uncomfortable. Some things shouldn't be talked about.

– We want you to be readily available to the congregation, but we don't want you to think you're too important. You should be available 24/7 like any good pastor, but don't get a big head about it.

– We want you to be confident and "take charge," but not bossy or arrogant.

– We want you to be tender and sympathetic, but not weak or whiney.

– We want you to be very theologically knowledgeable, but not too bookish.

(We have a list of "suggestions" for your preaching, but will send separately.)

Almost finally, some of us have had growing concerns about all this talk about "reaching people." We know that our Lord has called us to preach the gospel to everybody, but all your emphasis on evangelism and mission and "reaching out beyond our church walls" seems premature since there are some of us inside the walls who feel like we don't get enough ministry from you. If people want to hear about Jesus, they know where our church is, and they are welcome any time. But my last three churches, the pastor did this same kind of talk, and before you knew it, people started coming — people with all kinds of issues and baggage — and, frankly, the place changed. It wasn't ever the same with all those new people and their needs and problems. It stopped feeling like a tight-knit family. I really don't want that to happen at our church, and others agree.

While we've got you here, we need to let you know that another sister is very hurt that she has not been invited to tea with your wife. I know your wife is a shy person, but she is a pastor's wife, which means she can't just spend her time with 2 or 3 friends. She has to be friends with everybody.

We really do want the best for you, which is why we felt like you needed to know these things. With a little more hard work and concentrated effort on your part, this can be a win-win for all of us.

In Him,

A Concerned Member

(To be continued . . .)

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