Hard conversation with someone at church

I think I need to have a conversation with a man at church but have no idea how to approach it. Bottom line, he is driving me crazy but what’s worse he is driving people away. My church is very small, it was larger once but there was a nasty split a little over a year ago and now we’re just a handful. This guy seems to think it is his job to fix everyone. It doesn’t matter who it is, he will start a conversation and then pounce on something he thinks is wrong with the person or something they’re doing. Sometimes it’s theological where he thinks the person is wrong about something in the bible, or it could be how they’re raising their kids,or the music they’re listening to, or how much they read the bible. There are no boundaries, he will find something. He is constantly giving unsolicited advice and will go on and on about it. I know this is name calling but to paint the picture as succinctly as possible I have to mention that he is self-righteous and egotistical. He once claimed he went weeks without sinning. He doesnt listen and has to be right no matter what. It’s as though he thrives on it. I’ve tried avoiding him but in a small church that is impossible and what ended up happening was that I stopped attending things like bible study. I thought about leaving the church but don’t feel God is leading me to and I have responsibilities there. And it’s not just about me. I know his attitude is turning people away and that some have stopped coming to church because of him. I have been praying about it and feel I do need to have a conversation with him but how do I start? Or should I even bother? Am I trying to fix him like he is doing to others? What would a positive outcome even be? Appreciate any and all advice and prayers!

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  1. This sounds very frustrating, but I’m sure most of us who attend small churches can relate. You’ve made a great first start by praying about and asking questions about your own motives. That’s excellent preparation. There are no guarantees in any hard conversation but it sounds as if you want to set your mind to imagine a series of hard conversations with this man and not expect one chat to do it all. How would you feel about asking him to chat affirming that you’ve noticed his enthusiasm for everyone’s spiritual growth and his boldness, but wondered what he’s observed about how he’s being received? Then really listen to how he’s processed the fact that people aren’t responding with enthusiasm. (Hopefully he’s noticed that much.) Also, share your observation that he seems to like to be direct in his communication and ask if he’s willing to receive direct communication. Then, gently, but honestly, state your concern that while he has the right intention, his approach is having the opposite effect of his goal. Before you meet with him, consider carefully whether you’re willing to work with him on improving his communication because that could be a commitment with a cost if others misunderstand and see your working with him as approval. You’re likely imagining he won’t be open to correction, but what if he is? What if he’s eager to be effective and just doesn’t know how?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well, God bless you for searching for a good way to address this. It truly sounds hard, but if it is chasing people away from church, it becomes important.

    I agree with Lori’s comments and suggestions on having several chats rather than dumping it all into one.

    Praying for God to lead you, guide you, and make you brave!

  3. Jane says:

    I feel for you, and am in a similar situation. I love that you care enough to contemplate doing this and not walk away. Just today, I heard this message on my way to work that speaks to this issue and was helpful to me.. It’s out of a series called “Simple Church”. Bottom line: we are called to confront many times even though most are not willing.