Why churches have bad reputations
It's the same with people in groups. Churches are especially prone to this, because one of the things people think churches are good for is getting a whole bunch of good people in one place to have a nice time. (That's not what church is for, but that's people's impression.)
Coding Horror, a blog on what happens when people and computers mix, has an article on how one rotten person foils an entire group:
Groups of four college students were organized into teams and given a task to complete some basic management decisions in 45 minutes. To motivate the teams, they're told that whichever team performs best will be awarded $100 per person. What they don't know, however, is that in some of the groups, the fourth member of their team isn't a student. He's an actor hired to play a bad apple, one of these personality types:
- The Depressive Pessimist will complain that the task that they're doing isn't enjoyable, and make statements doubting the group's ability to succeed.
- The Jerk will say that other people's ideas are not adequate, but will offer no alternatives himself. He'll say "you guys need to listen to the expert: me."
- The Slacker will say "whatever", and "I really don't care."
The applications at churches are obvious. But let's be careful here! Churches are places for hurt people to go to seek solace from the Lord. It is important for pastors to see these warning signs and speak with these people; the lost lambs are the ones that need the most help.
Don't let the lost lambs lead the others astray.