How We Make Church Leadership Harder Than Necessary

Here are 12 ways we overcomplicate church ministry.

Often as I work with churches, I’m reminded that church leadership and church growth aren’t typically “rocket science.” We leaders are the ones who make them more difficult than they ought to be. Here are some ways we do that:

1. We work first, then pray second. When that’s our order of leadership, we make our work much harder because we lean on self first and then expect God to bless our efforts.

2. We don’t delegate. Sometimes that’s because we think we’re the only ones who can do ministry, or it just seems easier to do it all ourselves. Either way, that choice ignores the body of Christ described in 1 Corinthians 12—and it makes our work more difficult.

3. We assume we have to change the whole church to move a congregation. Even Jesus didn’t get his whole group on board, and nor will we. Striving to reach unanimity before we make a change is often a fruitless endeavor.

4. We think programs first, people second. I’m not opposed to programs (in fact, I’ve written some), but God has given us people. When we act as if they’re secondary to programs, we shouldn’t be surprised when they’re not always supportive.

5. We fail to model what we expect. For example, we call people to evangelize even when we’re not doing evangelism well. If we ourselves would first evangelize and intentionally make disciples, our churches would be stronger almost overnight.

6. We try to do too much at once. When we do that, our energies are spread thin and the results are often fleeting. Focus on only one or two major endeavors at a time, though, and the results will likely be more lasting.

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7. We bear our leadership burdens alone. Even when we long for some personal time and space, aloneness almost always makes ministry harder. God didn’t design us to lead by ourselves.

8. We tolerate less than our best in church leadership. Excellence demands hard work, but mediocrity often requires even more effort to correct. Fixing a problem takes more energy than getting it right in the first place.

9. We can’t name the specific people we’re mentoring and equipping. That reality usually means that we’re not discipling anyone … which means we’re doing ministry alone (#2 and 7 above) … and not fulfilling the Great Commission. Ministry gets complicated when we’re not obedient to God’s commands.

10. We refuse to change as needed to reach our neighbors. I’m not speaking here of compromise; I’m speaking of well-thought-out contextualization that aids in communicating the gospel. Our stubbornness toward change only makes this work more difficult.

11. We preach something other than the Word of God. We open the Bible, but we sometimes use it as only a launching pad for our own thoughts. It’s a lot more complicated to come up with our own stuff than it is to cling to the Word.

12. We don’t know our community. Because we seldom study our community’s demographics, and because we less often build relationships with non-believers, we’re preaching to a context we don’t even know. That’s hard.

Which of these, if any, characterizes your life?

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This article originally appeared on and is reposted here by permission.