First and foremost, remember the gospel: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, including difficult congregants. Many people are self-absorbed, fearful, and angry because they have not fully comprehended the incredible forgiveness they have in Christ. Keep reminding them in specific ways of who God is, what he is like, and what he has done—and is doing—in their lives. This is what the apostle Paul did whenever he had to address congregants who were struggling with conflict (1 Cor. 1:4–9; Eph. 1:1–3:21; Phil. 4:4; Col. 3:12a).
Second, take time to listen to difficult people (James 1:19). Some of their frustration may be the result of pent-up concerns that no one seems to have taken seriously. Look for the truth in what they are saying (even if much of what they say is inaccurate); have the humility to admit your church's shortcomings; and take reasonable steps to change things that need changing. As irritating as critics might be, God often uses them to ...1