Dealing with Rude Church Members
I. Signs of a Rude Church Member
II. Why Church People are Impolite
III. Examples of Rude Conduct in Scripture
IV. Toxic Christians Hurt Church Culture
V. Dealing with Toxic Church Members
Signs of a Rude Church Members
The first sign of a rude church member is refusal to follow Jesus’s command to: “love one another as I have loved you”. The body of Christ was designed to be both welcoming and inclusive. I am not suggesting “inclusive” as the world defines it. For those who choose not to live a life according to the words of Jesus, hell is real! A rude church member often destroys a Holy Ghost atmosphere. This takes away from the worship experience as we were meant to experience it. Without exception, these people are dismissive and disrespectful to others.
Most are accomplished at congregating with other people who share their unloving behavior. A rude church member has failed to demonstrate what the Bible calls “fruits of the spirit”. These are love, joy, peace as well as others. While I would not offer rude church members do not participate in the church community, they do so for demonic reasons.
Another sign of an ill-mannered member is lack of social awareness. I do not care what, as a Pastor, non-sincere members think about me. Satan often uses this misplaced care to drive his agenda. However, I care what real Christians think! Bad-mannered congregants never care what anyone thinks. If so, they would repent and turn from this behavior.
Here are seven (7) more signs of wayward Christians:
1. They specialize in causing problems rather offering solutions.
2. Are disobedient to leadership, committee chairs, as well as other Saints.
3. Avoidance of accountability and become undignified when accountability occurs.
4. Causes confusion effectively and consistently.
5. They launch personal attacks on others.
6. Refusal to repent and demonstrate Christian integrity.
7. Have no clue either what the Bible says or what it means.
In summary, impolite pew sitters refuse participation in a spiritual community. In the strictest sense, their body arrives but the heart never does. They are not true followers of Jesus. In His own Words: “why do you call me your Lord and do not do what I tell you to”?
Why Church People are Impolite
Church people are impolite because they are unregenerate, unrepentant, and unfaithful to the cause of Jesus. In short - they are rebellious Christians. Before proceeding, it is crucial to explain the difference between a rude person and one who only appears so. The church has gotten far away from the teachings of scripture with respect to biblical discipline. A symptom of this is the doctrine that is it wrong to “judge” others. We have all heard the false statement: “we are not supposed to judge each other”. This is a lie, from the pit of hell, and I have exposed it in other articles. From a Christian apologetics standpoint, this is among the easiest misinterpretations of scripture to disprove.
Nevertheless, rudeness speaks truth, but does so to condemn rather than encourage. A person who may seem rude, but is not, speaks truth in concern. To be a bit clearer: whether someone is rude or not boils down to motives more than their presentation. There is one thing most suffering from the plague of “rudeness” count on from a church leadership perspective – fear! Inside tip – there is one (1) thing your Pastor fears more than even God: being voted out as Pastor! This causes a deafening silence and is the direct contributor to your Google search.
Here are seven (7) more reasons for rudeness:
1. Not understanding the spiritual danger they are in. 2. Refusal to properly read and comprehend the Word of God. 3. Viewing the church as a social opportunity rather than a chance to get closer to the Lord. 4. Failure to serve others or allow themselves to serve others. 5. Blindness about serving Satan’s agenda and the high cost for doing so. 6. They value control of others over “loving” them. 7. Confusing intelligence with wisdom.
In summary, certain congregants are rude because they have never truly had a regenerative encounter with the Lord Jesus. Further, the greatest failure, in addition to that, is refusal to truly believe God. If one has never been born again, and doesn’t believe they should be, rudeness will always result.
Examples of Rude Conduct in Scripture
While the Bible describes individuals who exhibited noble and virtuous behavior, it also includes those who acted rudely. Here are seven (7) examples of ill-mannered behavior in scripture:
Ham, son of Noah: he found his father, Noah, naked in a tent and passed out drunk. Instead of covering his father, Ham chose to go and speak about it to others. He ended up cursed by Noah for doing this (Genesis 9:20-27).
Nabal: this man insulted David and his men. This resulted in his death through the hand of the Lord. (1st Samuel 25:2-39).
Jezebel, wife of King Ahab: she persecuted the prophets of the Lord and was ultimately punished for her wickedness (1st Kings 18-19; 21; 2nd Kings 9).
Job's wife: in this famous (or infamous) scene, she rudely told Job to: “curse God and die”. This was during his time of trial (Job 2:9).
Pharisees: these religious leaders often accused Jesus falsely and ultimately had Him killed (Gospel of Matthew).
Demetrius: treated Paul rudely by inciting a riot against him (Acts 19:23-41).
Peter: this Disciple of Jesus was rude and disrespectful by attempting to tell the Lord “what was best” (Matthew 16:22-23).
In summary, rude professed Christians are nothing new. The reasons for this behavior were discussed in the previous section but most of all, a need to insult others is at the heart of all their efforts. They hate themselves and want others to experience self-hate as well.
Toxic Christians Hurt Church Culture
There is a difference between church members and real Christians. Yet even Christians have bad days and hurt outreach. Christians forget we are called to “love others as ourselves”. Toxic Christians, who exhibit divisive behavior, have a negative impact on themselves and the church. First, their ungodliness drives people away. When people encounter toxic (rude) Christians, they are discouraged because of hypocrisy. This can make it difficult for the church to reach out to new people. On more than one (1) occasion, the conduct of a rude Christian have hindered my personal outreach as well. In fairness, this is only part of the reason people refuse but all the same, it is a hindrance.
Second, such unbelief creates a negative perception of the faith. When people see such hateful conduct, they become confused. This makes it harder to build bridges and limits our impact. Ultimately, rude congregants works directly against our ability to share Jesus with the world. It is therefore important to exhibit the love, kindness, and compassion that are central to the gospel message. Third, rude Christians create toxicity in their own lives. Being socially unaware, as most of these people are, hurts others but in the end, hurts us as well.
Here are seven (7) biblical directives against toxicity:
1. Love one another (John 13:34-35): we are called to love one another by showing the same kind of sacrificial love that Jesus demonstrated. 2. Showing hospitality (Hebrews 13:2): Believers must cultivate care for other believers and strangers as well. 3. Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32): Saints should forgive one another, just as Christ forgave us. This is key to a disciple’s lifestyle. 4. Encourage and not discourage (1st Thessalonians 5:11): Sometimes in speaking truth, we hurt someone’s feelings but in the long run encourage their faith. However, being unloving always discourages. 5. Demonstrating patience (Ephesians 4:2): a symptom of rudeness is lack of patience with others, their shortcomings, and personal beliefs. Rude people “snap” on others who do not see things as they do. 6. Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15): this may seem “rude” when it is happening, but nothing is further from true. People who love us, willingly perform this Christian duty. Those who do not may speak truth, but their lack of love demonstrates rudeness. 7. Showing humility (Philippians 2:3-4): toxic people are always rude and never possess the ability show humility.
In summary, unrighteous conduct, in any form, hurts the church and those conducting themselves righteously. The Bible teaches the opposite of toxicity. This does not mean that sometimes people will not appear rude but are speaking the truth in love!
Dealing with Toxic Church Members
Dealing with toxic church members requires direct confrontation. As a Pastor, these sorts of people ruin worship experiences and destroy church culture. The question we must all ask ourselves is: are we allowed to sacrifice an entire church body for one (1) uncommitted, and purposely wicked person? At our church, the answer is absolutely not! However, loving these people through such issues can pay dividends. This has happened in my ministry on several occasions. But they must desire the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It must also be considered that poison people are a result of a poisonous leadership team. We will save that for another article, however.
Biblical confrontation can be a challenging task, but there are several steps that can be taken to address the situation. First, it is important to approach the wayward Christian in a spirit of love and grace. This does not mean backing down, being nice, or continually enabling. Rude people are damaged people who have mastered the art of damaging others.
Second, it is needful to have a one-on-one conversation. Be honest, and direct, about how you view them and give specific examples of the offending behavior. You will be surprised to know that most have never been directly confronted by other Christians. People avoid them, smile at them, but never love them enough to confront them. The limit of their knowledge may be their experience with constantly being in conflict. They believe everyone else is the issue and not them!
Here are six (6) strategies to confront these sorts:
1. Confront with humility: when confronting a fellow believer, it is important to do so with a spirit of humility. Rather than approaching in self-righteousness, seek to understand their perspective and struggles. No matter their age, this may be the first time another Believer has “appropriately” (and biblically) brought this to their attention.
2. Focus on restoration: The goal of confronting should always be repentance, restoration, reconciliation, rather than condemnation or punishment. This is a Holy Ghost opportunity to grow both their faith and yours.
3. Address the “spirit” not the “flesh”: God’s Word reminds us of the fact this is not a “flesh and blood” battle! It is not the physical person who is the issue – it is the spirit overwhelming them. (Ephesians 6:12)
4. Use discretion and wisdom: use discretion and wisdom in choosing the right time, place, and methods. You may find it is more important to “listen” than to “speak”. Didn’t scripture teach this? (James 1:9)
5. Pray for Holy Spirit guidance: begin the process with prayer and never cease from doing so! To often, God’s people run to Pastors (like me) for advice when they should go straight to the Holy Spirit. If things have gotten this far, and the person is a church disrupter, your Pastor has not dealt with them effectively anyway (if at all).
6. Offer forgiveness and grace: the goal is not to “beat them up”, but to make them aware so the Holy Ghost can intercede. You have shown “grace” and “mercy” by confronting them, if they repent, it is time for forgiveness.
In summary, dealing with the toxic church member can be a nerve-racking experience. However, you will both be saving them, yourself, and the church grief. Why won’t your Pastor deal with this? I cannot answer that but that may not matter if the Lord has put it on your heart to do so. There was no way I would not confront such a person. I just had to do so a few weeks ago. However, was important is that the Lord uses whomever He will. God doesn’t always use the equipped (church leaders), he uses the willing.
Header Image Courtesy of Engin Akyurt @ Pixabay