Over the years I’ve seen pastors make the same mistakes over and over. Every time I see these mistakes I can almost bet their church is declining. So I thought I would share with you the six most common mistakes I see pastors doing and what to do about it.
Mistake Number One: Not making their first hire a competent Worship Leader.
Pastors seem to forget that worship is the heartbeat of a church. As worship goes, so goes the church. When I see a fast growing church plant I know that one of the first hires was a worship leader. This person doesn’t have to be full time, but he or she must be competent in both leading worship and recruiting and training the right people. If you are planting a church or trying to turn around a declining church the first place to either hire or make changes is with whomever is responsible for worship.
Mistake Number Two: Putting developing programs over developing disciples.
For some reason many pastors mistakenly believe that keeping people involved in activities is important for retaining them. In other words, the more programs, the more involved the people will be. The only thing a lot of programs do is produce tired and overworked members. But when making disciples is at the forefront of ministry churches not only grow but so does the Kingdom.
Mistake Number Three: Having more than two or three committees and/or having a large board.
I have an old saying, “The fewer committees and the smaller the board the faster a church can grow.” I love telling about a church I had a part in helping grow (as a consultant) from 15 people to over 10,000 in fifteen years with a board of only three people and not one committee.
Mistake Number Four: Making one of the first five hires a seminary trained Associate Pastor.
I often hear lay people say, “We hired our pastor an assistant because he needed help.” I’ve never met a pastor who needed help. I’ve met pastors who don’t know how to disciple or delegate and therefore are overworked, but I’ve never met one who needed help. If you disciple people and delegate to them, the need for a seminary trained Associate grows less and less.
Mistake Number Five: Not knowing what everyone gives.
For some reasons pastors think they can be a better pastor to everyone if they don’t know what people give. But all this does is allow bullies and freeloaders to wiggle their way into leadership positions and stifle the church. There was a reason Jesus said more about money than any other subject, including the Kingdom – he knew money was the hardest thing for a disciple to master.
Mistake Number Six: Underestimating the importance of parking.
No one comes to worship anymore on horseback and unless you live in a very small community, everyone comes to worship in a car. Early in my ministry I heard someone say, “If you can’t park ’em, you can’t preach to ’em.” Architects don’t understand the importance of parking either. They always make the mistake of putting the parking in the back and showcase the sanctuary. Have you ever seen a mall that puts its parking in the back? No, because they want it to say, “Come in.” You need a parking space for every 1.75 people in worship on Easter.
If you will avoid these six common mistakes, you will greatly enhance the chances of your church growing.