4 Dangers of Bad Church Leadership

“Your goal is to bring a discipleship model to your church that deeply changes people’s lives for the sake of the world.”

My wife, Geri, and I were in Alexandria, Virginia, a couple of years ago, when I walked past a memorial statue whose inscription read: “Erected to the Memory of the Confederate Dead of Alexandria VA by their surviving comrades. May 24th 1889.” All I could think of was how bad leadership, going back decades, led to a Civil War (1861-1865) that killed 529,000 men in a country of 32 million people.

Bad leadership continues to kill people today—especially in the church.

1. Bad leadership kills individuals.

When people enter our churches, they come with a variety of motivations. They need mature shepherds to offer clear direction on how to connect with Jesus and reach their God-given potential in Christ. What happens when they don’t? Many shipwreck, and a few even die, in this difficult journey we call life.

2. Bad leadership kills singles and marrieds.

Offering discipleship in churches for our singles and marrieds is difficult. It is time-consuming and messy. The consequences, however, of not doing this hard work, are enormous. The community is weakened. Children are scarred. Our witness is sullied.

3. Bad leadership kills leadership development.

We can’t develop leaders unless we make disciples. And we can’t make disciples unless we intentionally provide the leadership necessary to stay focused on Jesus’ command to do so (Matt. 28:18-20).

4. Bad leadership kills mission.

God has called us to proclaim and embody the glory of Jesus to the world. The problem is that it is not sustainable unless we equip our people to a firsthand spirituality so they become passionate for Jesus. Why? We cannot give what we do not possess. And we can only give what we do possess.

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Is leading like Jesus hard? Yes.

Is leading like Jesus slow? Yes.

Is leading like Jesus effective? Yes.

One way to stop erecting statues to our dead comrades is to reboot our own understanding of our roles as leaders. We are like a computer that has frozen and is in serious need of a new paradigm, a new set of glasses for the challenges facing us. The way we lead and make disciples desperately needs a reboot.

Your goal as a leader is to bring a discipleship model to your church that deeply changes people’s lives for the sake of the world.

Pete Scazzero is the founder of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York, and the author of two best-selling books: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and The Emotionally Healthy Church. This story was originally posted on Scazzero’s blog at EmotionallyHealthy.org.

Check out Outreach magazine’s interview with Scazzero, “Emotionally Healthy Leadership” »