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Well-Intentioned Dragons: Ministering to Problem People in the Church

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  277 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Every church has them--sincere, well-meaning Christians who leave ulcers, strained relationships, and hard feelings in their wake. They don't intend to be difficult; they don't consciously plot destruction or breed discontent among the members. But they often do undermine the ministry of the church and make pastors question their calling.Well-Intentioned Dragons guides ...more
Paperback, 153 pages
Published July 1st 1994 by Bethany House Publishers (first published 1985)
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Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
"Dragons...within the church, they are often sincere, well-meaning saints, but they leave ulcers, strained relationships, and hard feelings in their wake. They don’t consider themselves difficult people. They don’t sit up nights thinking of ways to be nasty. Often they are pillars of the community—talented, strong personalities, deservingly respected—but for some reason, they undermine the ministry of the church. In most cases, they are not naturally rebellious or pathological; they are loyal ...more
Jun 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2006, church, leadership
I wish I had this book about 3 1/2 to 4 years ago. This book is a gold mine of insights and help especially to the pastor who has to deal, constantly, with people. Dragons come in all shapes and sizes and almost always resort to personal attacks and plays for power to attain what they want. Shelly comments that the worst dragons are often the ones who were the pastor’s strongest supporters at the beginning (in fact, many times, the ones who called the pastor). Something that I learned about a ...more
Todd Brown
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
In this book by Marshall Shelley it's amazing how much of it applies to every church I have had the privilege of serving in or pastoring. There are dragons, and these dragons, as well-intentioned as they may be, can cause serious damage. Though dragons can cause damage, they can also be tamed through discipleship. The Author points out the various types of dragons so that as leaders we are able to identify them, and begin to pray that the wisdom of the Lord might show us how to properly disciple ...more
Walter Wolmart
Oct 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is awesome, I've read it over and over, I keep it close to me, and use it for our interns.

The greatest part is after reading the book you can become equipped on how the restoration process should be, sometimes it us who have to change, although most of the times it's just know how to recognize or identify those dragons before they cause any destruction...

I give this book a 5 out of 5
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
When I told a friend who is a pastor's wife that I just became a pastor's wife, and asked if she had any wisdom for me, she immediately recommended this book so I picked it up and read it. It had a lot of good examples of the behaviors in church boards and members that one might expect to see in ministry from time to time, whether taking/starting a healthy or an unhealthy church. Reading the real-life case examples (names and places changed to protect people) was a little like reading a Stephen ...more
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The church is full of difficult people. Often they don’t mean to be divisive, but pastors have to navigate power plays from lay leaders or other people opposed to the minister’s ministry philosophy. Differences in theological convictions can lead to mistrust and questioning of pastoral motives. Sometimes lay leaders have convictions about how to deal strongly with sin in the congregation without seeing the full picture that the pastor sees in confidential counseling sessions. This often means ...more
Deena Shoemaker
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ministering to Problem People in Your Church is a practical self-help book that touches on a subject everyone sees, but no one wants to address. Every church has these types of people. Well-intentioned people who hurt others in the wake of their "help." Don't lie, you thought of at least one person when you read that title.

Shelley describes the cause and effect of these people and how to deal with them. His advice isn't condescending towards these people. He points out that these people are
Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Stuart Briscoe once noted the qualifications of a pastor, “the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child, and the hide of a rhinoceros.”

Marshall Shelley's book on how to navigate leading difficult congregants was published in 1985 and you can feel all of the intervening 35 years. Many of the issues that Shelley addresses feel like they are from a bygone era. And yet, there is still a lot of wisdom in Shelley's book, both in deciphering the types of dragons in the church, and in discerning how to
Randy Corn
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think this is the third time that I have read through this book. As with the two previous times I came away with the same dominant feeling, I have had an easy pastoral life. As I understand it, all of the stories in this book are true, but like Dragnet, “the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” When I compare the problems that I have faced to those in this book, I feel remarkably blessed.

Essentially, the format of this book is to bring together a number of stories of really bad
Preston Hoxworth
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marshall Shelley takes years of experiences of different pastors and uses them to write about this topic of well-intentioned dragons. The Church today is known by Christians as having a wide variety of different opinions and outlooks to ministering to people and communities. When most of these disagreements clash, people can find a resolution or a middle ground. But sometimes they cant, and that is where this idea of a well-intentioned dragon comes from as Shelley explains it. He shares many ...more
Taylor Russell
This is a solid book filled with tons of case-studies and thoughtful scenarios. I found myself thinking time and time again, “wow, I probably wouldn’t have handle that situation well at all,” and so reading through this book helped me to at least have thought through potential ways to act as a pastor.

My biggest hiccup with this book though, and the reason I give 3 stars instead of 4, is that I found myself in pretty much every single chapter thinking, “if this church had even a slightly
Dawn Nordquist
Jul 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I know very little about church leadership so I can't speak to all the authors ideas. I got this book because it was mentioned in something else I read and I saw similar characteristics of the dragons in myself. This book helped remind me to love and be in constant prayer for my leaders and that God would keep me from being a well intentioned dragon. I can see how, in past situations, I have said or done something without understanding the consequences.
It did have some helpful leadership
Nathan Whitley
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book that all pastors and ministers should read. The complexities of working within the church and keeping good relationships, while leading is laid out here. I wish there was more advice on how to communicate with dragons, what was given will suffice.

My main take away is that I have no idea why any church would have a board. Leadership, yes. Accountability, yes. A church board? No way!
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! I’m tempted to say I wish I had read this when my hubby first entered the ministry, but I think several years in service gives one the context necessary to really grasp and understand the author’s message. Every scenario/story resonated with a personal experience. Even the beloved church at Phillipi had dragons. This book better equips leaders to deal with them.
Linda Carlile
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

If you need help negotiating the sea of personalities as a leader this is a good start. Awareness of actions & their origins will arm you with skills to work with & endure their pain.
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a topic! I wish I had read this a few years ago, and I wish for others that they will read it soon. Shelley does a great job of blending story, tips, and theology in an easy 150 pages ripe with wisdom.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dan Carlson, you might like this book.
Nicholas Hanges
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for any pastor or leader in the church

If this book was read by every new pastor in a church, regardless of denomination, it would save a lot of damage to the body of Christ in the future! Timeless classic.
Jonathon Burns
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every organization seems to have at least one or two people who mean well but still manage to cause emotional strains. These people do not usually intend to cause problems, but sometimes they can derail the organization and cause stress for those in leadership positions. In this book (an updated version of the formerly released Well-Intentioned Dragons), Marshall Shelley reaches out to Pastors who may be dealing with these sorts of people. Shelley likes to refer to these people as ...more
Allan Benson
Ministering to Problem People in Your Church unfolds a side of ministry that many people don’t often see. It was a good read of an unpleasant topic. A negative tone overshadows many of the chapters, and I sensed some hesitation to read through one painful story after another. Additional follow-up after the stories might have been a more efficient way of illustrating some of the principles in the latter part of the book. Nevertheless, the book was helpful in that is contains these lessons that we ...more
Suzanne Noakes
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I happened to be reading this book at the same time that our leadership was dealing with our own well-intentioned dragons.

One of the ways that these people gain and retain their hold is that there is so much that is good and even likeable about them. Thus it becomes difficult to appropriately understand and appropriately respond to their toxic dynamics. Shelley clearly speaks as a seasoned shepherd, quoting other experienced voices as well, helping to tease out the tangle and lay out the power
Jalynn Patterson
About the Book:

The editor of "Leadership Journal" offers practical, time-tested strategies for ministering and communicating love to the often well-meaning (but difficult) people in your church.

About the Author:

Marshall Shelley is a vice president of Christianity Today International and the author of several books, including Helping Those Who Don't Want Help and The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham. He holds a journalism degree from Bethel University in Minnesota and an MDiv from Denver
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Source: Free copy from Bethany House for the purpose of review.

Marshall Shelley has written a practical and constructive book of response for pastors dealing with "dragons". "Dragon" is the metaphoric description of a problem person in a church. Shelley shares examples of situations where problem people created havoc and how the situation played out, including responses from both sides. There is a chapter explaining what to do if the "dragon" is correct, and what the reaction should be.
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a re-release of Well-Intentioned Dragons. It has added content in relation to online issues such as Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

I read the earlier edition of this book back when I was interning as a youth pastor. It gave me great insight into the people who create problems for pastors in churches.

Now that I'm a senior pastor I read this updated version and, so help me, found myself getting angry at the Problem People in the many stories shared.

As you read the
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marshall Shelley has written an amazing book “Ministering to Problem People in Your Church”. In his book, Mr. Shelley helps us visualize problem people, that is well meaning Christians, as “dragons”. We can either slay the dragon, or we can work to deescalate our situations. The most obvious is to deescalate.
Mr. Shelley has given the reader true life situations that can and will happen in any church, and shown how pastors have handled each one.
This is a book that all pastors, leaders, deacons
Lucy Loong
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book. Marshall Shelley covers a difficult topic and one that I have faced myself … battling well-intentioned dragons! At one time or another in our in spiritual home, be it church, temple or meeting hall, we are bound to encounter a person that challenges us to our core. How to keep your spiritual balance while being attacked can be a daunting task. Marshall Shelley draws on his own experience as well as the myriad experiences of others in a Pastoral position that ...more
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is geared toward Church Ministers and maybe church leaders. It shares a lot of real situations and covers many reasons prone to cause problems in churches.
It can get frustrating to read through with so many negative situations are shared - page after page. It took longer to read because I didn't want to deal with so many problematic scenarios but the point may have been that Pastors must handle them daily.
The tone in parts of the book felt somewhat negative and I found myself not
Emil Bredahl
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really really enjoyd this book that was recommended to me by my pastor. It took me 2 days to finish it, because i could not stop after i had started reading the book.
I find the subject difficoult for people to talk about, so that is another reason why this book is SO important for people to read. Its written in an easy way that is very easy for the reader to understand.
In some way I think this book should be a requirement for pastors to read. During my own 4 years of bible college we never
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an essential book for every pastor to read. Although I've never been a pastor, I've been in church all my life, in leadership. I've certainly seen my share of dragons - those people who look like everyone else on the outside but on the inside are trying to grab power, prove their superior spirituality, or some other harmful attitude. This book is full of stories. It can be depressing to read how some pastors are treated. But they are also encouraging because it gives hope that the ...more
Aaron W. Matthews
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
The amalgamation of pastoral wisdom collected in this book leads to the solution of a problem - dragons within a church. Dragons are those poeple who breathe fire and cause problems for ministers and otherwise healthy churches. How do you deal with problem people? How do spot such people? What do you do with a dragon once they're caught? Some of these questions are fleshed out in this book. It is a good, short read recommended to me by a former pastor that found great solace in its words.
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“The goal in handling dragons is not to destroy them, not merely to disassociate from them, but to make them disciples. Even when that seems an unlikely prospect.” 0 likes
“If a person is argued into submission or politically subdued in one area but the underlying emotional need isn’t met, he’ll simply create another headache somewhere else.” 0 likes
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