7 Reasons Ministry Leaders Are Criticized

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THERE IS a proper place for criticism!

Yes, there is a fine line between helping and criticizing.  Some criticisms are helpful, and obviously, some are not. That is true in many realms of life and living. A good marriage includes criticism between a husband and wife.  In a family, children have legitimate criticisms worthy of parental attention.  In a society, a dating relationship, an educational setting, the business world, perfecting a hobby or a sport, books, and films, and the operations of the church — criticism takes place because it is needed!

AND Yes, I know that there are those who find comfort in, and maybe even profit somehow from the failures of Christians and Christian leaders.  Nevertheless, while we are fully aware of the possibility of false accusations, many are not equally aware of the reluctance of those in positions of prominence and power to address the wrongdoing of ministry leaders and pastors.  The major cause of that is “relationships.”  Those in the position to address wrongdoing see themselves as protectors of the leader or pastor, rather than representing those who put them in that office.

By design and purpose, “All-Thing-Church” is critical of an anemic American Christianity, which is warned about throughout the Scriptures.  We ought to be the first to be willing to criticize sinful attitudes, conduct, decisions, behavior, and viewpoint in our own ranks! [1] That anemic brand of American Christianity is first and foremost the responsibility of ministry leaders and pastors, not the sheep. 

THERE IS a proper place for criticism because . . . . 

#1) Pastors are “part” of church problems.  Far more often than not, there are two sides to a problem.  No one bears 100% responsibility.  The pastor is in a position to come out looking like it has little to do with him or his leadership.  Pastors get to have “the last word” among the leadership on a matter.  Too often, their judgement of a situation is taken to be the case because — well, they are the pastor!  That is why there is good reason to make sure the leaders speak to all sides, personally and corporately — with the pastors!

#2) There may be, and indeed are, legitimate reasons why people leave a church that are directly related to the attitudes and decisions of the pastor and the church leadership.  Instead of giving some legitimate credence to such reasons, the reasons are just dismissed — because . . . well they left — so what is the reason?  Too often, there is a reluctance to probe any deeper since — “they left.”  The proof of that is found in the work of Julie Roys. It is again amplified by the newly revealed plagiarism of the newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention — but he apologized! [2]

#3) Some pastors and/or church leaders fail to appreciate and value each person who attends, serves, gives, and worships at their church — even if they attend for only several weeks, or sporadically throughout the year!   Some pastors label people because they have not reached their expectations, and the end result is tunnel vision towards that person. They can be seen as nothing else but what they have come to see them as.

#4) While most leaders say that they value criticism — that all changes when it is offered.  Some of the leaders who are the most averse to criticism — legitimate or illegitimate — are ministry leaders and pastors.  Where humility ought to be exemplified, pride, arrogance, and an unbiblical over-confidence exist.  Leadership improves with both legitimate and illegitimate criticism.  Discernment requires the input of critical thought and criticism.  There are many examples of legitimate criticism — and “thank God someone spoke up”–  throughout the Scriptures! 

#5) When people leave the church, they are typically characterized as troublemakers by pastors and leaders.  A narrative is constructed [3] as to why they left, and that becomes the explanation with little regard as to what the issues and concerns actually were.  That approach is an easy way to explain away real issues that ought to be addressed, and just kicks the can down the road, when the next person or family leaves.

#6) Pastors and leaders are too willing to discard “indigenous members” when they disagree.  “Indigenous church members and friends, those who have worked, served, given, supported, attended, invited others et al. FOR YEARS.  They are given little berth as soon as they voice their concerns — legitimate or illegitimate!  No matter how many times we said that we appreciate and are thankful for your ministry in the past, that was then!  No matter that we said that your gifts and talents matter — over your many years — feel free to leave.

#7) Some pastors and leaders utterly fail at seeing themselves in the censure by which they accuse others (more than is seemly with those who preach and teach humility).  “Them there church members are being . . . ” — when it is often equally true that “they themselves have been and are being . . . . .”  The points they make in characterizing others prevail in their own actions, decision, and attitudes.  [4] [5]

It is in the DNA of church members to give a wide berth to ministry leaders and pastors, and for good reason.  Nevertheless, may I suggest that there are far more people who are aware of verifiable church and pastoral wrongdoing who say little to nothing than those who are actually sowers of discord!  The discord has been misidentified.  It has been sowed by the wrong-doers!  Their lack of care, or self-serving decisions, or immoral actions, or power grab, or improper financial actions, et al., have created the discord!

Wrong-doing has to reach an untoward level of discomfort before it is addressed — (and a level discomfort far more than is fitting for the church).  In the end, some people leave, not because of the wrong-doing, but because of the cover-up and/or complicity of the leadership, which refused to comment and would not address it until it got obviously out of hand!

Our anemic brand of American Christianity
is first and foremost
the responsibility of
ministry leaders and pastors,

not the sheep.


1. It was the Roman Catholic Church that has been and still is unwilling to deal with wrong-doing in and among its own ranks, and the world sees that and “gets it.”  Are we different, or are we cut from the same piece of cloth! 

2. Tom Buck:  First, I’m grieved by those who are silent, minimizing, or justifying the actions of Ed Litton. I was stunned that one pastor spun it as an attack of Satan upon a man called of God to do great things.

You see, if you get permission to repeat someone’s sermon, it isn’t plagiarism.  If someone gives you permission, then you have not been unethical or immoral, even though those listening had the impression it was your message.  There are all kinds of sermon sites that allow you for free or for $$ to use a prepared sermon and/or outline.  So I guess it isn’t plagiarism to use them and leave the audience with the impression that you have worked on the passage and message for hours this past week in your study!
This is laughable twisted, and SAD!  — Ted Martens

. . . .

3. The narrative is typically a story of a single incident — “Well, they left because the pastor said / decided / changed / announced this-or-that.  I find that God’s people are pretty resilient when it comes to differences of thought, changes, and offenses.  There is no ONE or even TWO events or situations that caused the decision to leave.  That clearly must be true of those who are the “indigenous members” and have weather all kinds of situations over the years!  Most of God’s people are willing to give the benefit of any doubt to the pastor and seek peace and unity because we understand biblical truths and principles.  It probably was far more than one decision, comment, action, or offense.  RATHER it was a pattern.  Events, decisions, actions, comments began revealing a self-serving picture of leadership.

4.  When some read . . . “

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
And above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for love shall cover the multitude of sins.

When some read those words, they think of those who have been critical. Some never see that they themselves have failed at that very point in dealing with others!  It is “them there church members and friends” who ought to love and “cover the multitude of sins.” At the same time, the pastor and/or leaders have egregiously failed at that very admonition — egregiously because they are “the adults in the room” — the shepherd, not the sheep!

5. More and more, I find ministry and church innocence claims very difficult to accept out of hand.  The kind of dishonesty, duplicitous self-serving decisions, and man-handling of people is far too prevalent!  The problems which continually arise are due to both a willfull ignorance as to what is actually happening and/or self-delusion, which is bolstered by a gross underestimation by other leaders in a position to address it, concerning the ability of pastors to purposefully deceive through a variety of methods!


See maligning the truth-tellers:https://julieroys.com/harvest-leader-repent-maligning-truth-tellers/

“But apparently to Vanlaningham, it’s better to sacrifice the sheep and God’s reputation than expose the fraudulent shepherds. God will “sort things out”—eventually.”

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