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15 Top Church Leadership Mistakes Every Leader Should Know

Even when we try to do everything right, we are always subject to making mistakes. And this is true even of church leaders, who are as human as anyone else. Among these mistakes, there are what we consider to be the top 15 mistakes of leadership in a church.

So we decided to write about these top mistakes leaders make in churches, so you can avoid making them too, or maybe warn someone – with lots of love – that they are making these mistakes right now.

To begin with, it is worth mentioning that the most important thing for the leadership of a church is to be in accordance with the Bible and its commandments. It’s no use being an incredible leader and being a person without character, or who leads a life of sins.

However, to make this list of the main mistakes of leadership, we at are already assuming that the leader has a solid foundation in the Bible and lives according to the Word.

That is, we’re just going to write here about the mistakes that leaders end up committing in practice, even if they know and try to live according to biblical principles. 

If you are—or want to be—a leader who lives the gospel daily but struggles with everyday practical mistakes, then this list will be very helpful for you.

See now, the top 15 mistakes of leadership in the church:

1. Does not Plan Ahead

The first mistake many leaders make, especially leaders just starting out, is not planning ahead. And this is something so important that Jesus had already warned us:

“Which one of you, if he wants to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the price, to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, all who see it will laugh at him”—Luke 14:28-29

Don’t go out and do things without planning them out first. Remember to check the calendar, commemorative dates, the price of things, the cost of doing something, how much cash you have, and the availability of people. In short, everything is necessary to accomplish something with excellence.

And this is the main problem when we don’t plan things well: we end up doing something without excellence. And when it comes to something done for God, it is unacceptable that it be done without excellence.

So plan everything you need to do to know what and when needs to be done. That way, you’ll be able to prepare in advance and do things without rushing and without surprises — or with fewer surprises, at least.

2. It has no organization

As important as knowing how to plan things is knowing how to organize yourself so that you can execute what was planned in the best possible way.

Imagine that you create a calendar with all the services and events of the year in your church, but you do not write it down anywhere. The chance of you forgetting is almost certain and, even if by a miracle you still remember, the people around you still wouldn’t know what and when needs to be done.

Planning things out and being organized is good for you and everyone around you, especially the people who are sharing the leadership burden with you. 

A good tip here is for you to write everything down and visit your notes frequently. If you are a leader who works with some type of tool, such as worship instruments or children’s room materials, always have everything separated, organized, and cataloged. If possible, take inventory of everything.

The organization is important because it makes your work easier. It reduces the stress and worries of your routine, allowing you to focus on what really matters.

3. Does not set an example

Leading by example is not the best way to lead.

When you come across leaders who function in the “do as I say, not as I do” mode, you feel a deep sadness , because everyone knows that this is one of the main mistakes of leadership in the church.

Ask people to arrive on time but be late. Combining a purpose with everyone and being the only one who didn’t fulfill it. Teaching about something in the pulpit, but doing something completely different when you step down from it.

I am absolutely sure that all of that person’s leaders will be impacted by this bad attitude. Those who are most firm in the faith will be downcast and discouraged. Those without roots will simply leave the church.

In the end, a leader who acts like this is a great example… of what not to do.

4. Does not meet often

This one is a mistake that people end up making because of the daily rush. But it is very important that you meet frequently with your subordinates and also with other leaders.

Not only to create and deepen ties between people, which would be great but also to be able to hear suggestions and get everyone aligned on the decisions taken and the next steps for the church.

There are people who manage to meet weekly. Others, just once a month. The frequency with which you will meet varies in each case, but the main thing is that you have that day defined so that everyone can participate.

When there is not this constancy in the meeting with the leaders, people give less and less importance to their functions, in addition to feeling that their activities are not relevant to the church.

5. Doesn’t listen to people

As we mentioned in the previous point, one of the main points of meeting with people is being able to hear suggestions from the people who are on the front line with you.

After all, they may have seen different things than you and have better ideas than you. But you won’t know that if you don’t listen to people.

However, there is a point in this error that can be even worse, which is when you listen to a person who has a better idea than yours, but you don’t listen to them.

Nobody is so busy that they can’t stop to listen to people and nobody has ideas so good that no other suggestions will do. Watch out for this.

6. Does not have a leader or disciple above him

As important as listening to those you lead is also listening to what an authority will say to you. By authority, I mean someone you regard as a leader, mentor, or disciple.

It is essential that you have someone “above” you who can help you with the big problems that arise. Also, you will only be able to go further in your ministry if you have people more experienced than you helping you and showing you the way.

Finally, having a leader or disciple is important so that you can be accountable to someone. It’s not healthy for you to work, especially when it involves working with other lives, and not answering to anyone. In fact, this is the recipe for failure and for breaking a leader’s integrity.

I guarantee that you will become more and more accommodating and sloppy with your responsibilities, in addition to not being able to solve bigger problems or receive valuable advice to improve the group you lead.

7. Does not take care of people

Leading is working with people. Especially when we lead in the church, we always need to be attentive to the care of our brothers.

I understand that not everyone is cut out for the ministry of a pastor. However, we are all called to preach the gospel to everyone and make disciples. And in this case, when you are someone’s leader, it is part of your responsibility to help people.

A leader who does not take care of his subordinates will soon cease to be a leader. After all, he’s going to lose all the people who are in that group with him.

If you want to destroy your group, it’s easy: don’t listen to people, ignore your problems, and don’t take care of anyone. You will achieve this super quickly by doing this.

8. Does not act with love and meekness

This mistake here is a little different from the others because it hits a point that is more difficult to notice in everyday life, which is the way you communicate with people.  Communication is important because Relationship is one of the 3 pillars of good leadership.

Perhaps, you do everything right in your leadership routine and even take the right actions.  However, you end up losing everything when you don’t act, correct or teach people with love and meekness.

A leader who is rude, angry, and rude is not just a bad leader, he is a bad person. It’s the kind of people you don’t want to be led at all.

There are people who could even be led by a poorly organized leader, or maybe they don’t plan things so well – which would still be bad. But a leader who is heavy with words is even worse.

In church, you need to speak with a lot of love and extreme meekness, because that is where wounded people need to be treated. Even if the person is wrong, he still needs to be corrected in love.

Speak to others the way you would like them to speak to you.

9. Thinks he bosses people around

This error here I consider heavier and, unfortunately, increasingly common in churches. These are leaders who have misunderstood the point of “being accountable to their disciples” and think that they now have power over people’s lives.

These leaders like to know every single detail of the lives of their subordinates, they approve or disapprove of relationships, and they say whether or not the person can go somewhere. Anyway, a series of regrettable attitudes.

In the “lighter” versions, this leader does things like ordering people to go to a service or forbidding members of their churches to visit other churches. Usually, these orders are accompanied by threats, such as “you will be cursed if you don’t”, or the like.

First of all, if you’re in a church where it’s considered normal for a leader to act this way, I’ll be straight with you: Get out of that church immediately.

If this is something new and strange, first talk to a pastor at your church about the leader’s actions so that he can take action. If nothing is done, leave this church immediately.

It is not correct and much less biblical for you to act in an authoritarian way with people. Even more so within the church, an environment where speaking and acting in love is so highly valued.

Of course, you must show interest in the lives of those you lead, listen to people, and advise them at all times – even about your personal relationships.

However, you don’t rule their lives. What you’re going to do is give advice and suggestions, and it’s up to them to decide whether to listen to you or not.

If you give good advice, people will listen to you more and more. Or at least they will respect you more, especially if they don’t listen to you and later realize you were right.

If God gave people the freedom to make the decisions of their lives, it’s not up to you to do it for them.

10. Not having unity with other leaders

This error may seem like something simple, but it brings many bad consequences with it.  When you don’t develop bonds with other leaders, whether in your local church or other churches, you end up isolating yourself.

An isolated person will not be able to lead, because he will not have a leader above him to give advice, he will not have communion with other people and he will not be able to practice forgiveness or humility with other brothers.

Furthermore, he is giving up being part of the complete body of Christ, which is made up of many parts, people, and churches. It’s like a foot or a hand that refuses to be part of the body. Its destiny is to “rot” with time until it is no longer part of it.

11. Competition with other leaders

This mistake is more common in churches that have a cell or “small group” system, but of course, all leaders are liable to make it. It usually accompanies the previous error.

It happens when two or more leaders get into some kind of competition that, many times, seems to be healthy, but that only brings headaches for everyone in the end.

This happens because attitudes like this will always have bad consequences, and the reason is very simple: if it’s a competition, someone will win and someone else will lose.

Only in church we are not in a game of win and lose. There is a place of extreme cooperation between people at all times. If someone is left out when the “game” is over, that person will spend eternity in hell. It’s too severe a punishment for you to act like you’re in a competition.

To tell you the truth, reflecting a lot on this, I thought of a competition that could indeed be healthy: the one who manages to help the other the most wins. This is indeed a game worth playing.

12. Does not interact with other churches

This mistake is made mainly by leading pastors of churches, even more so by those who already make the mistake of thinking they are in charge of people.

But everyone can do it because all you have to do is isolate yourself in your church and forget about the rest of the world and that’s it, you’ve already fallen into this mistake.

The kingdom of God is something alive and dynamic, where a lot is happening all over the world at the same time. When you close yourself off from that, you are practically missing out on the Holy Spirit’s ministry on earth.

In addition, you miss out on great opportunities to join projects with other churches, to build ties, learn new things, and meet new people. Anyway, it gives up a lot of good things that we can only achieve when we act like the body of Christ. That it should be diverse, yes, but united too.

13. Does not delegate service

This error here is almost universal, which greatly disturbs the day to day of most leaders.

It happens because, several times, the leader thinks “it’s faster for me to do it than to teach someone” or “if you want something done well, do it yourself”. And being honest, most of the time it can even be true.

The problem is, this isn’t the main point —and the next mistake on the list will make that clearer. You need to delegate work so that you can focus on what really matters, the things that only you can do.

In the beginning, of course, people can do something wrong or slowly, but they will only get better if they can do it. In addition, you will become increasingly swamped with services in your routine that will, little by little, exhaust you.

Don’t wait until you’re tired and mentally ill to start assigning tasks to people. Do this from the start and you’ll be investing in your group’s future.

14. Does not train people

As we saw in the previous point, it is essential that the leader distributes services to his subordinates. This will help you to have fewer tasks on a daily basis, as well as allowing you to focus on the main things in your group.

But the main reason for you to delegate services should be one: to train people. That should be your focus from your first day as a leader.

Training people helps them to develop;

  • It helps you to lead your group
  • It helps to prepare a successor
  • It helps to create bonds
  • It creates a sense of responsibility. Anyway, only positive things can come out of this.

The price to pay? Well, it’s not easy to train people, especially if they’re starting “from scratch”. Therefore, many leaders give up this process. But I guarantee you: training people has its costs, but so does not train people.

15. Stop studying and developing

And the last point, which is a common mistake, but mainly affects those who have been leaders for a longer time, is to stop studying, updating, and chasing content to develop.

This error happens when you think “I know everything about this subject, I don’t need to learn anything else”. But the truth is that we never run out of subject matter. There is always something new we can learn.

People who give courses and give lectures, for example, are the people who mostly buy courses and go to other lectures. This is because they know that they constantly need to learn about the subject they master, otherwise they will just stop mastering that subject.

So, never stop studying and chasing content that can help your group, your church, and your leadership. When you develop yourself, you are doing yourself and those around you good.

Final Words

More than not making mistakes, good leadership is also made of success. If you want to learn how to be a better leader, read our text 8 tips on how to be a good church leader.

It is for people who want to learn how to lead the right way, as well as those who are already leaders but want to take the next step in developing their calling.

If this text has blessed you in any way, don’t forget to share it with your friends and people in your church. God bless you!

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