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How To Be Unhappy At Church


If you’re happy with your church, good. But, if you thrive on anxiety and turmoil, here is the quickest way I know to get your drama fix at church. If you’re new to church and want to avoid the “land mines” of church life, sidestep these.

Focus on the church instead of on God. Listen for, actively seek, or invent the “inside story” on every dispute, decision, or direction in the church. Take sides. Form strong opinions and express them widely. Bonus points for becoming intolerant of alternative opinions.Get involved in peoples’ lives, and then divulge confidential details as “prayer concerns” widely.Volunteer to lead a ministry, especially one that has gone neglected too long. Pour yourself into it, fix it, and save the day. In the process, develop a sense of ownership in the ministry. When the church leadership has to break it to you that you don’t, in fact, own the ministry, feel betrayed.A parallel path is to give sacrificially to the church, but with strings attached. Even go into debt to give money to the church. Thereby develop a sense of ownership in the congregation and a right to approve or veto what goes on. See #3, above, for the result.Become a public figure in the church. Do things the way they’ve always been done. Or shake up things by doing them differently. It doesn’t matter, as both paths lead to the same conclusion – someone won’t like it.

I used to believe that passivity belonged on this list, but I’ve grown a lot older and a little wiser. Sometimes we come to a church as wounded souls in desperate need of “spiritual life support”. Simply worshipping the Father in the company of others without obligation can be a Sabbath rest, letting our spirits heal and wounds knit. The key, I think, is to listen for the inner call to plug back into an active church life. Perpetual rest and spiritual feasting make for obese souls.

The pastors, staff, elders, deacons, and ministry leaders face every one of these pitfalls, and successfully negotiate around them. It’s not trivial that they work in the dark innards of the church and yet stay positive and constructive leaders.

I’ve been down this path before, got the t-shirt, and hated it. Nowadays, my struggle at church is to find ways to serve that don’t entangle me in the distractions from worshipping the Father and serving for serving’s sake.

Because the ugliness starts when I take my eyes off of God. Just ask Peter when he walked on the stormy waves. (Matt 14:22-33)


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Mike Pulley

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