How to Be Popular at Church

By Doug Franklin July 11, 2019

The senior pastor isn’t preaching the way you would. The church should budget more for missions. The church website hasn’t been updated since 1997. Everyone is volunteering for the worship team, but no one is signing up to help with the youth ministry. You spend too much time in meetings and not enough time with students. These annoyances build and build until they’re too much to take.

I’ve met so many youth workers who are frustrated with their churches. They see hundreds of problems but very few positives. While they try to keep their frustrations to themselves, their grievances affect their attitudes, make them feel like victims, and create bitterness between them and other church leaders.

We all know the saying, “No church is perfect,” but if we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we still want to go to a perfect church. As the pastor at my church likes to say, “If you don’t have a list of church members you don’t like, then you aren’t involved enough.”

Churches will always have issues. They will always be filled with people different from us. So you have to choose: will you survive or thrive? Ignoring your church’s flaws and putting up with the people who annoy you will only let you survive. If you really want to thrive, you will need a whole new attitude.
This starts with you thinking differently about church and your role in it. Don’t be a know-it-all; become a servant of all. How can you become a more positive, enthusiastic, and engaging church leader? The most popular person at church does the following:

1. Praise the church leaders

No matter where you go or who you talk to, tell stories of the great things other church leaders are doing. Treat it just like gossip—positive gossip. Start with, “Don’t tell anyone this, but Pastor               is awesome because he just did              .”

Good gossip and bad gossip take the same road—they always get back to the person the gossip is about. Negative gossip will only hurt the other church leaders and make things worse. Praise gossip will build them up and give them confidence.

2. Offer to serve 

popular_quoteMost of us know what it feels like to be “voluntold” (volunteered without being asked). It’s incredibly frustrating! So don’t let that become an option. Sign up to serve without others asking. We know the church needs us. We understand the technology and culture way beyond other volunteers or church leaders. Our students have energy to spare, and we know how to make stuff fun. So don’t wait—volunteer to serve, help, teach, and fix stuff.

3. Be teachable 

Humility is the most attractive quality a leader can have. It’s unexpected, and it reflects Christ in us. The only likable know-it-alls are cartoon characters. In real life, you will only come across as arrogant. Ask people to teach you things. Show curiosity in what others are doing. Be the first to apologize. These qualities will make you a magnet.

Remember what Jesus said: “Take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place’” (Luke 14:10).

4. Serve the seniors 

Seniors need help, want help, and love students. Organize your students to serve a Valentines Day dinner or to rake leaves. Give the seniors nicknames and let them tell stories from the past. You can have so much fun serving seniors, and your students will think it’s awesome.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of complaining about church. Pity parties make us feel good for a short period of time, but at some point they begin to destroy your relationship with God. So change your perspective: instead of focusing on problem prevention, focus on serving always.

CC Image courtesy Dale C on Flickr.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More