Top 4 Ways Church Leaders Harm Their Church

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Have you ever seen one of those Eat This Not That books?

I see them everywhere.  It’s probably a sign from God telling me something, but we’ll save that for a different day.

This is a Do This Not That for Church leaders.  We talk with pastors all the time about marketing and growth in their church. We walk them through an intense process to really find out what is holding them back. This list is based on those conversations.

Be proactive about avoiding these 4 ways that Church Leaders Harm Their Church.

  1. Pride

“Pride goes before destruction,  and a haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18

We have all heard it and read it many times, but it is one of the biggest ways that church leaders mess up.  Why? Because we don’t know what we don’t know.  We all have gifts and talents that God has given us, and we know what those are. But we often miss the part about knowing our weaknesses.  Discouragement starts to sink in when change doesn’t happen and the answer isn’t obvious.

Don’t: Keep doing what you have always done and expect a different result.

Do: Get a mentor that you trust. Allow them to tell you the areas that you are strong and weak from their perspective. Then, take action.


  1. Being Content with Mediocrity

Have you ever said, “Yeah, that will do,” knowing that it could be better?
We all have done it.

Having this mindset causes you to think that mediocrity is normal.  This can happen for several perceived reasons:

  1. You don’t have time to make it better.
  2. You don’t have the money to make it better.
  3. You don’t have the energy to make it better.
  4. You don’t have the people to make it better.
  5. You don’t know how to make it better.
  6. That’s how we have always done it.

We are the ones that know it exists, mold it into its shape, and give it the push that it needs to move forward.

Don’t: Allow mediocrity to become routine.

Do: Find others in your church who are gifted in that area, and support them to make it better.

Try to push everything in your church one level up towards excellence.  For the strong and weak areas in your church, ask yourself, “How can we improve this?”. Then, take action.


  1. Us Four and No More

Have you heard about the 80-20 rule? Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto came up with a formula called the Pareto Principle in 1906 describing scarcity and the unequal distribution of wealth.  It is an economic data point in practically any scenario where twenty percent of something produces eighty percent of a particular outcome.  In churches, this can be that twenty percent of the congregation does eighty percent of work, or it could be that this same group of people tithe eighty percent of the total tithes and offerings.   Obviously, this could be less or more depending on your particular church. Ideally, it’s better when those percentages move closer to the middle.

In smaller churches, we often see that there is a core group of people who are doing everything.  They run the service, take care of the building, support the church financially, and plan every event.   Here are a few ways that this can harm your church.

  1. It seems clicky and can cause division.
  2. It burns out that core group of people.
  3. You aren’t developing leaders for sustainability.

You have to invest in people even when you aren’t sure what the outcome will be.

When I first became a Marketing Manager at a company in Atlanta, I managed a small sales team that sold online advertising.  It was an inside sales team, and the turnover was extremely high.

My manager, the VP at the time, came to me one day and said, “I think we need to bring the sales team to our annual conference this year.  It would be good for them to get a bigger picture of our company.”

My thought was really naive. This was going to be a pretty big expense on my P&L statement, the same P&L statement that I was accountable for every quarter.  It was selfish, but the last thing I wanted to do was make my numbers look bad when our turnover was high.

I told my manager, “What happens if we invest in them, and they leave?”

His response, “What happens if we don’t invest in them, and they stay?”

This was a great learning opportunity for me that day, and it has stuck with me in everything I do.

We must invest time and energy into people.  It’s a risk, but the alternative action of not investing that time and energy is even worse.

Don’t: Do everything yourself or depend on the same people for everything.

Do: Give your people responsibility and opportunities for task-ownership.


  1. Envy

There will, almost always, be a church in your circle that is bigger. That church will have more people and more money to do more things in their community.  You want to do more in your church for your people and for your community just like that other church.

This is a slippery slope for so many pastors, because you start to envy that other church.  Here’s what happens:

  1. You become discouraged that your church isn’t good enough.
  2. You become bitter and criticize that other church.
  3. You chase being like that other church when it’s not what you are good at.

Don’t: Be jealous or envious of that other church, and don’t become competitive.

Do: Pray for guidance and wisdom. Focus on what you are good at, and capitalize on your strengths to be the best for your church congregation.


We want to help you get better, and we want to help grow your ministry.  You don’t have to settle for mediocrity, and you don’t have to be like that church around the corner.

Three ways to get started in growing your church:

1. Pray

2. Know your people – We can help you with that here.

3. Take action and start to improve.

Get the FREE 30-90-365-Day Improvement Template



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