5 Basic Mistakes Churches Make Over and Over Again

Share This Post

It’s one thing to make mistakes in leadership.

It’s another to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Any idea what your frequent mistakes might be?

And if you have mistakes that you make, why do you keep making the same ones over and over again?

One of the reasons many leaders and organizations repeatedly make the same mistakes is because our actions spring from our viewpoint, viewpoints that in fact may be wrong.

Get the viewpoint wrong and the actions follow.

As you’ll see from the list below, the mistakes I see church leaders make repeatedly spring from a viewpoint that can best be described this way:

What we do in the church doesn’t really matter.

The reality is nothing could be further from the truth. What we do in the church matters incredibly, because the church actually is, as Bill Hybels says, the hope of the world.

If the church has the most important mission on earth, behave like it.

But so many churches don’t.

Here are 5 mistakes I see over and over again.

The church has the most important mission on earth. Every church should behave like it. Click To Tweet

1. Thinking cheap

Too often in church, leaders carry a dollar store mindset. Get as much as you can for as little as you can and you win.

But do you?

What leaders miss is that cheap has a cost. In fact, in the long run, it’s actually more expensive.

First, you end up with inferior products, whether that’s furniture, technology or even ministry (Here, leader…do world-class children’s ministry on $140 a year).  Cheap things break earlier and more easily, and you end up replacing them frequently. So often, you don’t even save much money.

Cheap has a cost. In fact, in the long run, it's actually more expensive. Click To Tweet

Cheap even translates to your team.

Paying church staff poorly is not only unbiblical, it’s stupid. When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Do I think you should pay outrageous salaries to church leaders? Absolutely not. But you should pay people a living wage.

If you want a radically different view on why non-profits shouldn’t be cheap on salaries, Dan Pallotta makes a powerful case for decent pay in the non-profit sector.

Why do some church leaders want to underfund the most important ministry on earth?

Why do some church leaders want to underfund the most important ministry on earth? Click To Tweet

2. Starting late

I’ve been to numerous church services and events that regularly start late, after the published start time.

Why?

Maybe it’s just me, but that just oozes “Hey, what we’re doing doesn’t matter much…and we don’t really value your time.”

Some people got their kids up early, made breakfast, showered quickly and fought traffic to show up on time. When you start late, you dishonour all their effort.

I know some church leaders think they want to wait until ‘everyone is here.’ Well, guess what? No matter what time you begin, people will always wander in late.

We had an ‘everyone shows up ten minutes late’ problem a few years ago. Rather than start late, we actually told people to arrive on time and then put some of the best, most creative elements in the first 5 minutes of the service.

When people showed up late, we told them “Man, it’s too bad you missed it.” That was it. We never apologized.

Guess what happened? We went from 30% of people being present when the service started to about 70% of people being present when the service started.

It’s amazing what happens when you provide great value on time. People show up.

The other 30%? Too bad they missed it…

When you provide great value on time, people show up. Click To Tweet

Free Resource: Thriving Churches Checklist

In a rapidly changing culture, pastors and church leaders are facing never-seen-before challenges. The good news? You’re not alone. With the right tools and resources, you can weed out the unhealthy areas of your ministry and lead a thriving church.

Churches that aren’t just surviving but thriving in this season share 8 common traits. Download the Thriving Churches Checklist & e-Book to discover these traits and lead a healthy, growing church.

3. Deciding it’s good enough

Even if you invest some money in ministry, too many church leaders behave as though a moderate effort is good enough.

As Jim Collins has famously pointed out, bad is not the enemy of great (because that’s obvious). Good is the enemy of great.

A ‘good enough’ attitude can create a false sense of satisfaction, leaving a meaningful part of both your mission and potential unfulfilled.

That’s why I love that at Connexus Church, where I serve, one of our stated values is ‘Battle Mediocrity.’

I love that phrase because first of all, ‘mediocrity’ names ‘good enough’ for what it is—massively unsatisfying mediocrity. Second, ‘battle’ is a call to arms. This is a fight, and mediocre has to die. (I teach on battling mediocrity in this talk.)

God didn’t decide his work was good enough, so why should the church? He gave his best. His all. He threw the full force of his majesty not just into creation, but into redemption.

Strangely, many people will give 100% to the marketplace, a hobby or their family, and then give 60% when they serve God. Makes no sense. At all.

God didn't decide his work was good enough, so why should the church? Click To Tweet

4. Choosing easy over effective

Being effective as a leader is difficult. Which is why it’s so easy for leaders to settle when so much more is possible.

Being effective means you dig in when others retreat. It means you ask the 11th question when everyone else stopped at ten. It means you wake up early and sometimes stay up late trying to figure out how to do better.

It means you call out the best in people and ask them to bring their best energy, focus and skill to advancing the mission of the church.

That’s effective.

And it’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

Being effective means you ask the 11th question when everyone else stopped at ten. Click To Tweet

5. Thinking that conversations like these are  unspiritual

Some leaders understand why conversations like these matter to the church. But there are always some who don’t.

In some circles, talking strategy is seen as ‘unspiritual.’ Instead, the goal is to not get too concerned with strategy and just try to keep everybody happy. Or to pray about things and maybe they’ll just get better.

The best prayer is rooted in action. Praying about forgiveness when you’re unwilling to forgive is pointless.

Praying for your church if you’re unwilling to act on it doesn’t make any sense either.

If we believe God is the author of our hearts, minds, souls, strength and gifts, then we should be willing to lend all of the above to further the mission.

Praying for your church if you're unwilling to act on it doesn't make any sense. Click To Tweet

Brand New: A Step-By-Step Framework For Leading Change...
Even When It Feels Like Everyone Is Against You.

Every leader—myself included—knows what we need to change. But most of us get stuck on how to bring about that change.

Between the opposition, self-doubt, and unknowns, change freezes so many leaders.

  • How do you know which risks are worth taking? 
  • What do you do when you’re faced with opposition? 
  • Who should have input in the process? Who do you tell?
  • How do you develop the strength to keep pushing, even when it feels like everything is working against you? 

You may think it’s just you that experiences these doubts, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

So how do you lead change without giving up your dream of what could and should be? How do you stay relevant, even when change isn’t working in your favor? 

My brand new course, The Art of Leading Change, is a step-by-step guide to making the right changes and implementing them successfully.

In the course, you get my entire playbook for leading change—from start to finish:

  • Determine who is for (or against) the change and why
  • Know exactly when you need to make changes and how quickly you'll need to make them
  • Learn who to include and listen to each step of the way... and who not to include
  • Frameworks to communicate change effectively and with minimal pushback
  • Decide where to focus your attention and develop the questions that will set your course
  • Learn how to persevere until your critical breakthrough
  • And much more

It’s the complete package of frameworks, mindsets, strategies, and skills that will equip you to lead change with confidence and wisdom.

Are you ready to lead your organization into a brighter future? Today, you can get access to it all.

Share This Post
Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]