The Morning After…

BACK-SEAT DRIVER: ˌbaksēt ˈdrīvər/  a passenger in a car who constantly gives you advice about how to drive

ARMCHAIR QUARTERBACK: ˈärmˌCHer/ ˈkwôrdərˌbak/ a person who is not a quarterback but offers opinions and criticism on the performance or decisions of those who are


“Back-seat Drivers” and “Armchair Quarterbacks” are phrases used that are negative in their connotation. They imply unwanted or inappropriate advice is being given. Every single pastor that I know (EVERY pastor I know), has experienced this from both members and visitors of their congregations…and yes, sometimes the advice provided really is negative in its intent (1). But, more often than not it comes from people who are passionate about their church and their faith. It isn’t mean. It isn’t disrespectful. In fact , much of the time it is the pastor who is defensive and perceives it as threatening. Those in a church who offer advice like a Back-Seat Driver simply want the best for the church and for the people who gather there.

It is with the best of intentions that I offer up some thoughts based solely on the advice and suggestions of those who offered it without invitation. Why? Well, it isn’t to poke fun at the people or their perspective. It isn’t to disparage someone’s ideas or ridicule anyone’s point of view and perspective. Rather it is because I believe, as difficult as it may be for all of us, that unsolicited advice is actually very, very helpful in at least one of two ways. First, it often points out things of which we are unaware such as the temperature of the worship space. In ours, I’m under a bunch of bright, hot lights…if I’m comfortable, it is likely someone else is cold. Or when it comes to sound, I love loud music (LOVE loud music). What’s a perfect volume for me may be too loud for others…you get the point.

The second way that unsolicited feedback is helpful is that it forces us to evaluate why we do what we do. Is there a reason? Is there a purpose? Are we just going through the motions?

It is this ‘second way’ that motivates me…

In this BLOG section I will lift up comments anonymously that I have received over the years, both recent and long passed, that have forced me to do exactly that…think through why I do what I do.

My thoughts, the reasons and responses to some of that feedback, are what I want to unpack here…after all, you may have the same unsolicited advice in your minds and just didn’t share…. 🙂

Click Below to read about each feedback topic:

Week 1: Hollywood!


1- To ask a good ‘Lutheran’ question…what does this mean (0r what am I referring to)? Well, it doesn’t mean that the pastor shouldn’t receive feedback. OF COURSE feedback is welcome, even necessary. I simply am creating a venue to explain my perspective on some of the playful as well as some of the more critical feedback that I (all pastors really) get from time to time. I am using this space to offer my perspective as much as a cathartic act as anything else (and for me, something fun to write about). If I receive feedback (which I do all the time most often in a loving and respectful way), then I should on some level have a reason why I do what I do.



One thought on “The Morning After…

  1. I love sports analogies so I will chime in with similar one. I have always viewed the congregation as a team working together with the church leadership to promote the message of Christ. Great coaches or quarterbacks will work with the collective body to determine the best way to get the team firing on all cylinders. The feedback you get from the coordinators and players should not be viewed as unsolicited advice, but opportunities to review the statistics and trends to help the team grow with the current veterans as well as the new rookies, looking at their skillset and capabilities to help the team move forward. For example, one mistake a college football coach may make is to come in with a complete new scheme that is ill fitted to the current team members. The vision to immediately install a spread offense into a team that is equipped with an existing traditional pro style one while not heeding the advice of the players and staff to make incremental changes could stall the team’s progress.

    It takes time to build a team to reach new heights, and it takes courage from team leaders to listen to to their team members and make the correct decisions for the team, even if it is not 100% aligned with their vision right now. The goal from great leadership is to encourage advice to help the church grow to support the service of Christ.


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