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    Top Ten Things That Will Make You Crazy Working at a Church

    Top Ten Things That Will Make You Crazy Working at a Church

    There was a great piece by Tim Schraeder over at CatalystSpace this past week about the top ten things that will drive you crazy about working for a church.  See if any of these resonate with you...

    1.  We are really good at burning people out.

    The average church employee stays at a church for about 2 years before they peace out.  We all need to learn one simple word: NO. Even though something may be for a great cause, it's not worth losing your soul to make it happen.

    2.  We focus way too much on what we don't have.

    We need to focus on what God CAN do rather than what we have to work with initially.

    3.  We are afraid of change.

    We need to give change time and be more concerned with what the voice of God is saying to you and let that influence you more than the voices of other people.

    4.  We use "let me pray about it" as an excuse to get out of making decisions.

    Wow.  So true.

    5.  We LOVE meetings.

    For some reason, we think that things get accomplished in meetings.  They make us feel good about our progress.  95% of the time, meetings are a waste of time.

    6.  We try to do way too much.

    Tim says:  "Most churches are hyperactive and never sleep. We thrive on activity. The whole "less is more" thing hasn’t sunk in yet."  I agree that this is the case in some churches.  In other churches (maybe the majority) though, I think we try to do too little.  While some churches are hyperactive, many more are asleep... not trying ANYTHING great for God.  (In this point, I disagree a little with Tim).

    7.  We try to be something we're not.

    Tim says:  "If I see one more 40 something pastor dressed in Abercrombie so help me…"  Amen, brother.

    8.  We spend too much time looking at other churches.

    Again... agree:  "Your church has a unique and specific role it’s meant to play in the life of your community. If your church ceased to exist, what would people miss? Whatever that is should be where you focus your time and energy."

    9.  We worry about people leaving.

    "We're quick to cater to the needs [or demands] of people who have been around for a while instead of focusing the needs of people who are new."

    Why do we do this?  Money?  Pride?

    I like what one preacher said recently.  "Some people look better goin' than comin'."  Couldn't be MORE true sometimes.

    10.  We don't feel trusted.

    Tim says:  "For whatever reason churches tend thrive in a weird culture of mistrust. It's not or conducive to a positive working environment. Some churches have crazy rules, policies and procedures that create layers of red tape that, while probably well-intentioned, communicate a lack of trust."

    Wow.  That is so true.  I've seen it time and time again, and it's something we've struggled with at my own church.  Policies in and of themselves can foster an atmosphere of distrust.  You've got to watch that one.

    You can read much more of Tim's thoughts here...

    OK... those are Tim's ten.  Which ones do you agree or disagree with?  And what would you add to the list?  What is the ONE thing that is driving you crazy in your church job right now?



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    1. Peter Hamm on Thu, April 01, 2010

      I LOVE IT. But…

      [For some reason, we think that things get accomplished in meetings.  They make us feel good about our progress.  95% of the time, meetings are a waste of time.] This is, in my experience, categorically not true. Even more to the point, if you don’t meet enough, you lose momentum with whatever team you’re working with and the results can be quite bad.

      Maybe some churches have too many meetings, but in my neck of the woods, we’re doing it just about right… And I’ve tried fewer meetings before… it didn’t work…


    2. Jerry on Thu, April 01, 2010

      Peter, I agree with you. If you don’t have enough meetings, you run the risk of big collisions when two (or more) people need the same resources, (people, rooms, etc.) and something’s got to give. Too many meetings, though and it gets quite frustrating because you’ve got work to do and you end up covering the same material waaaay too many times.

    3. Matt Steen on Thu, April 01, 2010

      I think it would be better stated as not knowing how to do meetings.  I agree that we need to meet with people, but I suspect that far too many churches have far too many unproductive meetings because we don’t know how to do a meeting well.

    4. James McLaren on Fri, April 02, 2010

      It’s a good list (if you want to see religious meeting culture in action, watch “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” grin))

      A small corollary: I’m UK-based and Anglican. The church hierarchy say (sensibly) that the minister should get a day off a week. We had two ministers - one permanent, one training with us - so the diocese insisted they had the same day off each week, and then wondered why the church administrator got het-up about the fact she was being asked to make decisions on the hoof that she didn’t have the authority to make…

    5. sgillesp on Mon, April 05, 2010

      Hahaha - I guess I’m lucky.  I’ll meet with myself about planning worship, then I’ll meet with myself about the youth ministry, and then I’ll meet with myself about the children’s ministry, and then I’ll meet with myself about the administrative work!  This is a pretty big-church-based complaint.  I guess what will drive me crazy about working for a church is spending too much time with myself!

    6. Andymcadams on Mon, April 05, 2010

      I see many or all 10 in most churches I work with.  Praise God that there are those times when God’s Spirit and progressive thinking breaks through and a church moves ahead.

      In regards to #‘s 7 & 8…not only pastors but churches just have to discover who they are and what is special about them.  If they don’t they will forever try to copy someone else only to be frustrated and wonder why wearing a flowered shirt while preaching and hanging a baseball diamond on a wall and calling it OUR strategy isn’t working for us.

    7. church lady on Tue, April 06, 2010

      i am really so totally discouraged with the petty, persistent and pernicious attitude of the highly vocal group that says “we are the exclusive, (pseudo) spiritual secret society who are enlightened enough to perceive and regularly point out all the deficiencies and errors and faults in the leadership” ..........“we are so wise that we THRIVE on our opportunity to carry out our “ME” centered agenda DESPITE the preaching of sound doctrine and loving committed and competent leadership, in order to see our preferences prevail at all costs” 
      i really cannot understand why such members bother to attend at
      all.  there is a sort of lust in the human heart that feeds on deeds done in darkness, and the human pride that is conceived, fed and flourishes in such a group…...................only God knows the depths of sin in the human heart… we NEED our Saviour !

    8. Jay on Fri, April 09, 2010

      I like the post a lot and agree with most of it!!
      However, #9 is way off.
      We do very much need to worry about the back door. Tim states that we should rather focus our effort on the new people coming in the door, rather than dealing with the problems of those who have been around a while. Oh My! That used to be our approach, but believe me this is very counterintuitive, in fact, suicidal. #1 - your established members are the ones you need to help you do the work of the ministry to the newer members—youneed to get them on board. #2- it takes 10x more effort and $ to attract and get a new member than to maintain existing people. It’s hard work, but leaders need to get everyone on board with the mission of the church.  #3 - When people leave, there are scorchmarks left behind, even if there is no gossip or conflict involved. People notice when others (especially long timers) disappear. You have already been entrusted with a body of believers’ souls.  Long term, if you do not tend the sheep you have, don’t expect that somehow God will continue to give you more sheep. You might end up with a pen full of goats (and wolves.)

      So, leaders do need to watch that back door!!!!

    9. JAY on Sat, April 10, 2010

      You guys might want to look into the book “The Shepherd Leader” by Timothy Z. Witmer.

    10. Larry Harder on Mon, November 08, 2010

      I suspect most of us have a comment on many of the ten items.  However, number five urges me to write.  Like so many things, it’s not about the number or frequency of meetings that’s so important.  It’s all about the productivity of those meetings.  I would encourage a read of “Death by Meeting” by Lencioni.

    11. Bruce on Mon, November 08, 2010

      The back door is very important the Pastor of a megachurch in Seattle recently told his Pastors that they do no grow the church and let them all go, result people left, no one taking care of the back door. We are a flock sheep need a shepherd a flock is not made up of lambs only. This concept is for revolving door ministries, and is ignorant and typical of the young church of today

    12. Al on Mon, November 08, 2010

      On the other hand, caring so much about who leaves and why they leave can easily slip into a co-dependency that usually neglects bringing ANY unchurched folks through the front door. People are only sheep in analogy. They are still people with the need to take responsibility for their own spiritual growth and development. Pastors and spiritual leaders cannot grow “for” others. They must grow for themselves.

    13. dave on Mon, November 08, 2010

      Uh,only ten?  Lol. I can think of dozens more. On the meetings, I feel the necessity for community on multi staffed churches. Plus, the need for ACCOUNTABILITY.  I am amazed the the new gen staffers seem to feel they need not be held accountable for time, workloads.etc. without it, the temptations to create unhealthy environments becomes problematic.  Two cents…

    14. David on Mon, November 08, 2010

      I think the issue with meetings comes down to effectiveness and leadership style.

      If you are not effective at building teams and leading them then meetings will feel like a waste of time.  If you do not like to delegate responsibility to others then there is no need to have a team to meet with because you will end up doing all the work anyway.

      Meetings can be effective and valuable in ministry because they allow for collaboration and communication within the team.

    15. Joseph on Mon, November 08, 2010

      Amen to # 5. For some reason many pastor’s seem to think their meetings accomplish something when most don’t. A few do, but most don’t & are a waste of time.

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