Costi Hinn, nephew of televangelist Benny Hinn, has identified five types of “dangerous” church members and encouraged pastors to protect the “precious bride of Christ” from such individuals.
In a recent blog post, Hinn, pastor at The Mission Bible Church in Orange County, California, explained that while no pastor should ever be “callously eager for church members to head out the door,” they must make every effort to “protect the flock from divisive members who prove to be more inclined to subterfuge than support.”
“Sure, there will be plenty of seasons when difficult church members need thick-skinned pastors who will offer counsel, exhibit gentleness and patience, and be longsuffering. That is the job,” he said. “But are there times when a pastor needs to brush the dust off his feet and let church members huff and puff out the door? Absolutely.”
The first kind of dangerous church member, Hinn said, is the “money manipulator,” a person who either gives significantly to the church to “manipulate their agenda,” or they refuse to tithe because they don’t get their way.
“This kind of church member completely ignores imperatives for generous giving without strings attached (1 Timothy 6:17-18),” he said. “Sometimes, they know a lot about church because they grew up in it, served on a deacon board, or perhaps even hold a seminary degree. Unfortunately, all of their experience and knowledge doesn’t translate into supporting or submitting to the church.”
Second, the “sideline spectator” is an unhealthy church member, Hinn said, because their pride holds them back from using their gifts to benefit the church and serve others.
“When VBS needs volunteers, the food pantry needs a cook, the campus team needs ushers, or the children’s ministry needs a teacher, they shrug it off with sentiments like, ‘Let the paid guys worry about that. That’s why we put food on their table,’” he said.
The third type of dangerous church member is the “extortionist,” or an individual who uses their position or wealth to manipulate a pastor’s message.
“Horror stories abound of elder boards and influential families putting a pastor in the position of, ‘do what we say or end up homeless,’” Hinn shared. “This heart-breaking reality is actually one of the reasons why denominations and church associations are so beneficial. They can usually help find the pastor a new church to serve.”
Fourth, the “bitter busybody” is detrimental to the Body of Christ because they “spend a lot of time making their rounds, gossiping and creating factions, questioning the leadership of the church, and adding, ‘promise you won’t tell?’ to their secrets.”
“They are a time thief who distracts the church from staying on mission,” Hinn explained. “You’ll often notice a repeated pattern of strife, gossip, bitterness, and discord at multiple churches from these individuals. ... Usually, they don’t deal with their heart issues at one church so they continually leave churches because of their own pride; ignoring the very thing church members are supposed to: work out their sin and be restored.”
Hinn identified the “blame gamer” as the final dangerous church member. This individual, he said, blames the pastor for their own issues and sins.
“Dangerous church members are those who refuse to love their wives, won’t put down the porn, cuss at the boss, and roll their eyes at the pastor’s sermon series on marriage only to blame the pastor for what they caused,” he said. “Disobedient church members demanding the pastor save them from their sins have it twisted. They don’t need a pastor. They need Christ.”
Hinn closed his message with an encouragement for pastors: “Be encouraged, faithful shepherd. There are some people that you can let go. Focus on loyal labor for the Master and serve those whom God has entrusted to your care. He will reward you (Rev. 22:12).”
Previously, Hinn, who rejected the teaching of his "Uncle Benny" after working alongside him for years, explained there is a clear model in the Bible for keeping relationships with people for the purpose of evangelism. "I want to keep that bridge up," he said. "Flame-throwing and being angry and going ad-hom on arguments and character assaults of my unsaved or charismatic friends or third-wave followers is not going to get me anywhere."
The Bible gives instruction on how to address loved ones who are caught up in false or misleading teaching, Hinn said, referencing Jude 22-23. The passage states, "Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear — hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh."
"I've let my Uncle Benny be in that third category," he said. "I have mercy on him with fear. I'm very concerned for his salvation, I want him to be saved, I hate the sin, I hate the prosperity gospel, but I don't hate him. I want to see him saved."
While there are some who need to be "snatched from the fire," Hinn said it's impossible to do so "if I have spent my time with people insulting them and debating foolish controversies and spending too much time in vain wrangling."
"I'm not going to get the opportunity to be the one to harvest that soul," he explained. "God will use somebody else, because He's gonna save who He's gonna save, but we have to make sure we are keeping those relational bridges up. When people are ripe for the picking, I want to be ready. I want to have relationships with people who know they can come to me. So we need to keep our doors open and our Bibles open and our hearts and ears open."