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I don’t normally read the NY Times.  It’s a bit too snobbish for my personal tastes.  But occasionally there is an article that is worth stopping over to and reading.

There was such an article on Nov. 13.  Here’s a quote:

It was once considered unbecoming, or annoying itself, to moan publicly about trifling personal ordeals. Now, in a seismic shift for the moral culture, abetted by technology, we tolerate and even encourage the “microcomplaint”: the petty, petulant kvetch about the quotidian.

Source – NY Times

The article talks about microcomplaints in general, with some obvious examples of the ridiculousness that we have entered into.  It doesn’t touch into the area of politics, where microcomplaints have turned into microagressions and attempts to change what people do and believe.  Yes, they are political power moves.

At any rate, we as a church need to think about these things.  It is only a matter of time until until the church is the target of microcomplaints and microagressions.  Some would argue that the church is already a target, but I disagree.  It’s one thing to take your stand for or against something, but it’s quite another thing to do that in a way that is done in an uncivil manner.

At any rate, how are you going to respond, church, when you are the target of a microcomplaint or microagression?  Before you start to think of an answer, consider this – Do you need to respond at all?  Sometimes the act of responding only gives legitimacy to a complaint.  Sometimes it is better to ignore a complaint than to give it life.  But it depends on what it is.

Here’s something you could go by.  If two or three people complain about the same thing, then you have something that is legitimate already.  It doesn’t mean you have agree with the complaint.  You may find the complaint as proof that you’re doing something right.

Here’s something else to consider – if you respond to one set of complaints by just giving in to the complainers, be prepared to have to do that again.  You’ve now set a precedent.  Then again, sometimes the complaints are legitimate.  I’d your job to discern the difference though.  Remember, people are always going to complain about something.

Or as the NY Times puts it:

But a glance through your acquaintances’ aggrieved online posts may well show equal attention paid to the slings and arrows of everyday vexations. The same technology that allows people to voice their displeasure with dictatorships, police brutality and prejudice also enables them to carp about mediocre meals, rude customer service and that obnoxious guy at the next table who won’t shut up.

Ultimately, you have a choice – a choice of how you listen to complaints.  You can see them as negatives.  Or you can see them in a different way. You can be grateful that people care enough to complain.  You can see them as confirming what you are doing.  You can see complaints as evidence that your church is approachable.