I recently read an article “13 Senior Pastor Mistakes that Flatline Growth“. It had some interesting points, so I wanted to comment on it, and present what they said.
- 1 Afraid to Fire Staff.
- 2 You’re Pastoring Regular Attenders Instead Of Your Aggregate Ministry Group
- 3 When You Are The New Visitor Follow-Up Process
- 4 You Are Afraid Of Killing Programs
- 5 You Haven’t Clearly Defined Your Staff Team Values
- 6 You aren’t willing to spend money
- 7 You Don’t View Yourself As The Chief Resource Raiser
- 8 You’ve Placed The Wrong People On Your Governing Board
- 9 You’ve Hired Staff Members Who Aren’t Leaders
- 10 You Haven’t Redesigned Your By-Laws To Facilitate Growth
- 11 The Pastor is to lead the charge in evangelism efforts
- 12 No relationships with other Good Pastors
Afraid to Fire Staff.
From a pastor standpoint, I totally agree. As a pastor, you have to be “pastoral” at times, taking great pains to be compassionate and sympathetic. At other times, you have to be an administrator, and quite frankly, dead weight on the church staff is dangerous and drags the entire church down. So letting people go both is good for the individual and good for the church.
This is good for the individual because #1 he is not doing himself anything good by messing up God’s work. He needs to be confronted about his failings and dealt with, (giving him chances to change and work his problems out). If he doesn’t fix his life, then he needs to get out of the ministry. If he is not going to do the ministry correctly, then he will probably not want to get out either.
The process I see here is that there needs to be constant feedback from the Pastor to each employee on staff on the church. Are they doing their job well or not? How can they improve their ministry in the church? Etc. When suggestions are ignored on a constant basis, then the employee should be let go. When he (or she) is let go, it should be absolutely no surprise. Barring some calamity like sexual impropriety, the workers should have a rather long history of dealing with a problem with the Pastor, and it not working out, and the outcome is to be expected by him. This is the way people should leave a church.
You’re Pastoring Regular Attenders Instead Of Your Aggregate Ministry Group
I think this is a bunch of poppycock. Your first commitment is to the Lord. You are not there because you or those people want you there. You are there because God wants you there, and God called you to be there and do what you are doing. If you don’t get your calling straight, nothing else will work out.
Having said that, the author of the post mixes church ministry of pastoring with evangelism. Yes, we should be drawing in the unsaved, or unchurched into our church. No doubt about that. But where your primary commitment is, there you should let that be an authority over you, and you should spend your life, time, energy, money, etc. in that primary commitment. Can a pastor be totally successful and have a small church? In my view yes. If you are doing what God has called you to do, you are a success no matter how small and insignificant some may view what you are doing. The Old Testament prophets were called to rebuke Israel in the last days of their spiritual adultery, and today’s experts would say they were failures, but they were true to God’s direction and message, even though it was not popular nor “successful” in Israel’s eyes.
This is the spiritual balance here.
When You Are The New Visitor Follow-Up Process
I am half-way on board with this here. There is a lot to be said for good leadership delegating work to others in the ministry instead of having “the pastor being the only one who can do anything right” syndrome. Yes, delegate by all means if you find faithful people who are able to handle it.
But on the flip side (of what this article says), I disagree with the idea that being a good pastor means not knowing each sheep individually. The good pastor in the Bible says he knows each sheep by name, and they know his voice. There is a personal, off the podium relationship when a good shepherd is in the primary leadership role.
You Are Afraid Of Killing Programs
Quite frankly I am against programs. They replace Holy Spirit guided actions. That is their intent, to brainlessly do what produces spiritual results. So I think the idea of a program is a bad thing from the beginning.
You may have a Sunday School class, or teen outreach, and other things like that, but we need to get out of promoting programs and promoting obeying God. There is a difference.
You Haven’t Clearly Defined Your Staff Team Values
There is a lot to be said for the work environment in a church. When everybody understands where the team is going, and everybody pulls in the same direction, things will go better. It is important for leaders to convince their workers to the team goals, the team methods, etc. They should not expect their ministers and workers to simply obey, but “get on board” because it is right and logical and good.
You aren’t willing to spend money
I think the key here is that there is money to spend. I get so fed up with seeing pastors over the years putting such priorities in buildings. The ministry is not a building. It is the people in the church. Is it wrong for a church to have its own building? to have a nice building? No. That is not the problem here. The problem is that the building program doesn’t get done except the pastor brow-beats it into the ground, and so often members and workers are offended because they are not going to the same extremes in pushing the building program as the pastor.
Real “ministry” should be about people more than things and buildings and money. If you cannot see that, you have a real problem.
So spending money on ministry should take priority over saving money for buildings. If you analyze what were legitimate expenses of churches in the New Testament, they definitely paid their staff. A man that works of the gospel should live of the gospel 1Cor 9:14. But we see no real push or effort to build buildings in the New Testament. Counterbalance that with the Old Testament temple, and you might get some balance. That temple was the single place where God was coming down in physical form (as smoke) to present himself to the people, and if you think your church building is that important in the plans and view of God, go ahead with making your church covered in gold. But if your work is humble, then be humble also in your building aspirations also.
You Don’t View Yourself As The Chief Resource Raiser
Okay, again I totally disagree with the article here. There is the physical needs of God’s house, but he who goes into the pulpit to break the bread of life should not be raising funds for the work. The two should be separated.
The article is right that nobody else will step up to take this job, though. So you have to do something, but in general, when the congregation is on board as far as the overview of what the church is trying to accomplish, raising money is not so hard. It is when the pastor’s hard head is pushing through his ideas against the common consensus of the laymen.
You’ve Placed The Wrong People On Your Governing Board
This is key in any organization. You have to take extreme care in only allowing board members that are of like mind as the organization (better that that like-minded with the pastor). The institution of the local church needs to have a clear vision, and the pastor usually develops and defines that, and he has to maintain that vision, and he has to promote that vision in the church’s life.
The main thing here is that must be prioritized is that there is not a conflict of vision between the leaders, the workers, or the church in general. Good preaching will establish a common vision, but that is what goes wrong here.
You’ve Hired Staff Members Who Aren’t Leaders
This is a two-edged sword. You have to have staff members you can work with, and many times being a “leader” is often confused with overtaking the Pastor’s leadership and breaking away people to a divergent vision and ministry. This cannot be good.
So you want followers to your leadership, but people that are leaders in themselves in some way still.
You Haven’t Redesigned Your By-Laws To Facilitate Growth
What you do in your church should be always under the laws and constitution of the same church. You should express the rules you “play the game” by, and these rules should be exposed for everybody to see. At the same time, you are saying that you are accountable to those rules.
These rules should be liberal for the leaders and ministers to actually do the ministry without being fettered in the process. At the same time, liberties need to be taken carefully, because there is always the possibility of abuse when too much liberty is given.
The Pastor is to lead the charge in evangelism efforts
The number one “gripe” I have with most pastors I have seen is that they themselves are not examples of an evangelist. That being the case, they hire or order people “under them” to do that dirty work, and then they get upset when the church doesn’t grow.
When the pastor accepts that he is the example that all the church should follow, and so he concludes that he has an obligation before the Lord to be in the forefront of the evangelistic efforts of the church, that church will grow.
No relationships with other Good Pastors
I am not so much on board here with the article. This can be very detrimental in most cases. If there are really “good pastors” out there, it can be good. But most of the time, Christianity degenerates into a “good ole boy” system, and this plays right into it. In these “fellowships” with other pastors, so often the dominant “alpha male” of the group pressures the rest to worship and adore him, and he pressures the group to follow his desires and way of doing things. I picture Catholicism beginning exactly this way with a few alpha male leaders bringing other churches and pastors under their domain and influence, and thereafter a diocese being born with a bishop at its head.