Top 10 Ways to Handle the Church Critic

pastors handling church criticsOne well-worn adage reads, “The two things you can’t avoid in life are death and taxes.”

I’d like to suggest one more, for those in ministry.

The two things pastors can’t avoid are…

people late to the service and…


Having served in full-time ministry for 30 years, I’ve experienced my share of critics. I’ve responded well to some and not-so-well to others. When I’ve sensed a good heart from the critic, I tend to respond with more grace.

As Abe Lincoln said, “He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.

Here are 10 ways I’ve learned to respond to my critics (actually 9, I’d love to hear your 10th).

    • Give them your ear, but within reason. Don’t allow someone to destroy you with caustic criticism.
    • Let your body language communicate that you are truly trying to understand.
    • Avoid an immediate retort such as “Yea but,” or “You’re wrong,” or some other defensive response.
    • Breath this silent prayer, “Lord, give me grace to respond and not react.”
    • Before responding take a few moments to check what you’re about to say. Abe used to suggest counting to 100 when you get angry. That may a bit of overkill, but he is on to something.
    • Look for the proverbial ‘grain of truth’ in the criticism.
    • If you see more than a grain of truth and you can’t process it alone, seek feedback from the safe person in your life. (see my blog post on What to Look for in a Safe Person).
    • Ask God to keep you approachable to your critics (within reason). You probably don’t want to vacation with them. 🙂
    • Learn from your critics on how best to deliver criticism to others. When someone delivers criticism that you received well, ask yourself what about how they did it made it easer to receive. For those who botched it, remember to avoid their tactics.
    • …… tell me how you’ve responded to your critics. I’d love for you to give me a 10th.

    Related posts.: How to Deal with Criticism.In this article I suggest a simple acrostic in responding to critics…LEARN

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

    • H. S.

      I have to admit it’s not easy not to become defensive especially when you know that criticism is not fair at all and has nothing to do with the truth. Then I realized that often times I’m not really the problem; they have issues in their own life or family life which turns into criticizing someone to avoid dealing with their own mistakes/issues. So the stronger the critics become the more kindness, care and love I add in my relationship with them. Sometimes to the level that it surprises them and makes them wonder “what is wrong with this guy”. I always remind myself that my repose should be “other”; different from mainstream culture.

      The other tacit I use is to listen to their complain and criticizer and respond with the story, or a Bible quote (a safe one, sometimes even unrelated to the topic). I do this when I realize that they just want to pour out their unto someone by finding a fault. It shifts their focus onto something good and it becomes a puzzle for them to solve and a food for thought to chew on.

      And I always remind myself that Jesus was the Perfect Man, Son of God, Perfect Pastor and Preacher etc. people not only criticized him but they eventually killed Him. Obviously I don’t dare to compare myself with Him but… if they did it to Him, to the Perfect God-Man, for sure they will do it to us, the mortals and sinners for many reasons we provide with our shortcomings as pastors/ministers. Hope this helps. Thank you very much dear Charles; I learned a lot from your blog. I will be here quite sometime to finish reading all the helpful materials you published.