5 Frequent Problems in Churches

Question by email: If you went to a church that was replacing a problem preacher or a church experiencing problems, what were the issues that were causing the disunity or problem? Maybe it did not result in the preacher being dismissed but you were the counselor to help find a solution. Your proposed solutions.

Causes of Church Problems

If people tell me their church is experiencing serious problems, my suspicions are:


They are gossiping: repeating and listening to things about each other and others that aren’t helpful and encouraging. Passively hearing and repeating gossip are two sides of the same coin. Proverbs 26:20


While they may be sound, giving right answers to some questions, they are sick (unsound) spiritually — rejecting and ignoring Jesus’ simple, but difficult, instructions for resolving conflict. Matthew 5:23, 24; Matthew 18:15-17


Elders spend their meeting and ministry time on deacons’ work and don’t shepherd sheep. They have no conscious, detailed, written, and committed plan to know members, communicate on a personal level, or minister to individuals and families of the congregation. Their main self-imposed job description is “making decisions,” trying to make everyone comfortable by putting out fires, and attempting to keep everyone happy.


Members rarely express appreciation to elders for their dedicated work.


The concept of an ideal Christian by many is to have the right answers to Bible questions, not do bad things, and come to church some. While those may be helpful for everyone, that isn’t close to following Jesus’ description of discipleship:

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

Solutions to Church Problems

Finding sources and implementing solutions to church problems are responsibilities of every member of a local church. If a situation is chronic and people are upset about it, it’s because everybody likes it the way it is more than what it would take to change it.

When a body is having a physical emergency, if the legs can’t walk or drive to the doctor, fingers need to do what they can and call 911. Get help. Don’t die blaming everyone else. It’s fatal.


Everyone: seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Matthew 6:33


Elders: understand, teach, repeat, communicate, advertise, announce, and assure that each member of your congregation understands and can articulate the individual plan for your congregation to practice the Great Commandments and the Great Commission in your community and in the world. When you ask people what they do for a living, they don’t say, “Buy groceries and make house payments.” They need to do those things. But most have considered choices and evaluated opportunities and can tell you in two minutes or less how they make a living. Their answers: “I teach high school chemistry; I build houses; I’m a lawyer; I’m a truck driver; I’m a nurse.”

While it’s true our mission, in general, is to obey God and keep His commandments, my observation is members of active and excited churches can tell you what’s special about their congregation and how they’re doing God’s work. People know how God is working and how they fit into that plan in this congregation, in their family, and in the community.


Elders: lead into a continuing, consistent relationship with Jesus by example and teaching — whether anyone follows you or not. It’s your choice to lead and do what God teaches you to do, regardless of whether anyone follows. Don’t wait until you know without a doubt the church will follow. Leading is your choice. Following is theirs. I notice when elders lovingly and faithfully lead with dedication and persistence, usually, the church will follow within twenty or thirty years. It took Israel forty years to enter the promised land. But with our technology and training, we may speed that up a decade or two.


Elders: prayerfully and carefully communicate to your fellow Christians that gossip won’t be tolerated in this congregation. There’s a two-step plan shorter than Jesus’ three-step plan for resolving a destructive type of church conflict.

Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned (Titus 3:10, 11, NKJV).

I often tell elders: if you decide and announce that this church, following your example and leadership, will adopt the same rules for peace as God’s word, within six weeks of your announcement, one of your brothers-in-law and a wife of one of the elders with publicly gossip, either in the foyer or on Facebook, to see if you meant what you said. And your response will make all the difference in the peace or lack of it in your church.


Members: repeatedly, individually and collectively, express to your shepherds your love for them and your appreciation for their work. You don’t have to agree with everything they decide and do. If they sin, with two or more witnesses, rebuke them in a loving way (1 Timothy 5:19, 20). But even if you don’t agree with every announcement and challenge, thank them for their work, over and over again. That’s your command and choice (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13). It doesn’t take a whole church to express gratitude for weak or strong working shepherds. One individual or one family can plan and have their own appreciation party.

I ask every congregation where I work,  “How long since you’ve had an Elders Appreciation Dinner?” Many never remember expressing gratitude for the hours their shepherds invest in the congregation.


Leaders, and followers: “mind your own business” instead of waiting for the ones you’re blaming to get right first. Sometimes leaders follow followers and sometimes followers follow leaders. But everyone is responsible to the Lord for following Him, regardless of what others do. Joshua 24:14, 15; 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Regardless of title or position, when someone sets a good example, those who follow are blessed.

What suggestions for peace do you suggest?

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Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

4 Responses to “5 Frequent Problems in Churches

  • What a GREAT post.

  • Excellent thoughts. Thanks. I want to read this again tomorrow, to absorb it better. As for your question, James 3 (& the start of 4) always comes to my mind when it is said a congregation has strife. James cites “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts” as the root cause, and then tells us how to remedy it as peacemakers.

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      5 years ago


      Thank you for this observation.

      The apostles had several fusses over “who would be the greatest.”