Managing Complaints in Church

There is something about complaining that is contagious. It seems if one person complains, then soon there are more people complaining about the same thing. This can cause a community to slip into a lack of contentment, criticizing those in leadership and wishing to go back to “when things were so much better.” I have seen this play out in churches when there is change.

Like the Israelites in the Old Testament, God is often leading a community of believers to something new that will be a witness to the world. But the journey to get there can be challenging and wrought with sacrifices that can leave leaders frustrated and discouraged. This is where Moses found himself when he led the Israelites through the wilderness.

In Numbers 11 we read that the Israelites are tired of eating the manna God provided every day. Verse 4 describes the complainers as “the rabble who were among them had greedy desires (NASB).” They long for “the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna (verse 5-6).”

Moses becomes tired of the constant complaining — the repeated desire of the Israelites to return to Egypt. It causes Moses to complain to God: “And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me (11).” If you’ve been in leadership, you may have found yourself asking God, “Why me?” Complaining is contagious and can infect an entire church with discouragement.

For church leaders, whether in the pulpit, a ministry or a classroom, it’s important to remember you’re not alone. Moses told God, “I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me (14).” Ever felt like that? God told Moses, “I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it all alone (17).” As a leader, remember that God has placed other Spirit-filled people in your community. You know who they are. Seek their assistance to share the load.

It’s also helpful to remember that the problems we face in church often require more faith in God than just our own plans to solve them. When God told Moses he would provide meat, Moses tries to figure out how he will provide meat for hundreds of thousands of people (22-22). But God reminded Moses, “Is the LORD’S power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not (23)?”

© 2022, CGThelen

8 thoughts on “Managing Complaints in Church

  1. When we look at our situation with selfish eyes, we see the world’s darkness through a very narrow lens. When our faith trusts God, we see the world’s light through His unselfish eyes.

    1. As Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Thanks for the comment. Blessings.

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