How to handle complaints

Complaints. I’ve had a few.

Leaders will get the complaints of the people they lead.  It’s only a matter of time.  In ministry they can sneak into a committee meeting, Bible study or, my favorite, right before a worship service.  Phone calls, emails, anonymous letters and even social media messages can come from anyone at anytime.

You’d do well by deciding beforehand how you will handle complaints.

I’ve learned to filter them.  Some complaints represent genuine issues.  Most others do not.  You have to make that distinction.  I use a few factors to make up my mind; of course, this is more of an art than a science.

  • Listen to the tone of voice people use, if applicable.  Are they ticked off or hurt?
  • How long has this complaint been brewing?  In other words, is this a thought someone has reflected upon or do they just want to give me a piece of their mind?
  • Has anyone else been told about this?  Is it that important?
  • What do they want you to do?  Is this someone blowing off steam? Is this person worried that what’s happening right now may have a negative impact on the church’s ability to reach the world for Jesus?

If you feel a complaint warrants attention, by all means, take time to address the situation.

But please, dear church leader, do not react to every complaint you receive.  Don’t change something you’re doing because someone complained about it.  Don’t change your mind because someone didn’t like what you were doing.

Church leaders cannot spend their time reacting to every complaint. Their role is to lead the church into mission, not to appease the church into complacency.

Stay blessed…john

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