6 Unhealthy Trends in Church Leadership | In Other Words

pewbibleEach week men and women all over the world give their time, talents, and treasures to the work of God’s kingdom. They sweat, bleed, cry, and give all so that God’s mission is fulfilled on the earth. “On earth, as it is in Heaven…” would be a more exact representation of the mission’s call. We, who have committed ourselves to this commission, often face significant road blocks, and conflict regularly arises. We tell ourself two lies, depending on the situation…either God wants us to bust down proverbial doors that are locked shut, or He wants us to walk away from opportunities that seem insurmountable. We try our best to follow God’s will, but sometimes the tempation of our own comfort steers us in a different direction. Whatever the case may be, if we were honest with ourselves, those of us involved in church leadership can admit that often unhealthy trends emerge from our efforts. Currently, there are many unhealthy trends that I have observed, but let’s just talk about a few of them today.

I think there are 6 Unhealthy Trends in Church Leadership that must be discussed.

1. Inconsistent Priorities

As pastors and church leaders, we have to be in the habit of constantly evaluating our priorities. Do we really want God’s will to be done, or are we more interested in what is marketable? Sometimes these things go hand in hand, but sometimes they don’t. If we say we are about God’s business then we have to be willing to take the risks that prove God is in control. We all want to see God’s glory powerfully invade our churches, but how many are willing to make decisions that would require Him to create possibility out of the impossible? Seeking God’s priorities will get us farther than we could ever imagine. Sometimes the actions taken with be frightening, but if God is in control then we will see blessing.

2. Addiction to More

In today’s Christian culture, what happens when our churches grow in number? Well, we build bigger buildings of course! This is because the unhealthy addiction to more equates to that of human or financial hoarding. We want bigger so we can have more, so we can influence the masses, and persuade even more people, so we can continue to get bigger. The cycle seems pointless overall. Sure, we justify it by saying we are trying to convey the life-giving message to more people, or that God is simply blessing because of the right leadership, but we have to ask ourselves the hard questions. Questions like…If God called us to do something bold like plant a new church, or restart a dying one would we be open to that idea? Do we care more about what our work looks like than what God can do through us? I am not against bigger churches…but let’s not default to a mentality that God is not calling us to.

3. Competitive Mentalities

Sometimes it is hard to lead a church as a spirit driven leader instead of a team coach, or CEO. Sure there are coaching and business aspects to this vocation, but if God were the center of our ministry then we would realize that our mission includes helping the worship community across town as a brother or sister would look after their sibling. Even though I love my church, I don’t profess to have the secret that gets people to Heaven any faster than the megachurch down the road. We will be more effective united as opposed to seeking to be offended when another church is being blessed. Rejoice with our brothers and sisters…They are God’s children too. You will have to stand before God one day and account for why you didn’t…if that is the case. Give your all to bless other churches. You will see the increase.

4. Destructive Arrogance

No pastor, leader, or person sitting in the pew is above one another. There are some that have studied scripture more and understand the languages it was originally written in, but we have to eradicate arrogance if we are going to grow. Even though I came from a Christian home, my sin is the exact same as yours…my past was riddled with instances in which I decided to seek my own path and do things my own way. This is all sin is…so the next time we are tempted, as church leaders, to be arrogant remember that it is destructive. People need grace, and guidance…not a know-it-all who thinks of themself as higher than another.

5. Constant Worry

God’s got this under control. You don’t have to be in constant worry over whether or not this is true. As a pastor, it is easy to worry (to the point of paranoia) about things like finances, church attendance, efffectiveness, or if so-in-so is mad about if the piano was moved 2 feet to the left. We worry about our building. We worry about the future. We worry about whether or not people want to stay at our church. We worry about other churches taking our people (side note: they are God’s people not ours…). The concerns are endless. Meanwhile, people, outside of our walls are dying and we have a chance to provide them with an antidote. They don’t care about any of that…they just want the hurt to go away. Take that worrying energy and convert it into serving energy.

6. Aversion to Learning

I once asked an older pastor if he was going to a certain seminar. He looked at me and said, “probably not…I have been in ministry a long time, and they probably can’t teach me anything I don’t already know.” WHAAAAATTTTT???!!!!!?? Pastors and other church leaders should have a hunger to learn more not an aversion to growth. We owe it to God to have the desire to grow in Him. Don’t miss the opportunities that present themselves.

When we embrace unhealthy trends in our leadership we are defying the mission of Christ himself. I pray that we are no longer held hostage by our own limitations but embrace the fact that God can do all. Allow Him to lead you today.

-Landon DeCrastos

8 Unhealthy Christian Behaviors

8 UnhealthyChristianBehaviorsIf you are a normal Christ-follower, you have probably failed in the past. In fact, I guarantee that there was some crisis moment that called you to repentance. Whether it be something one would consider catastrophic to a simple recognition of the need to change. Whatever the case may be, there was once a time in which God woke you up from a spiritual slumber. The purpose of following Jesus,though, is not to make mean people nice, or even bad people good. It is to reveal to people that resurrection is possible, and in fact, needed. As a Christian, I mishandle the treasure of salvation daily, and there are times I forget that God’s power is available to me. I am in need of a resurrection.

As I have observed Christians as a whole, I have noticed that I am definitely not the only one that struggles (as implied above). There are unhealthy behaviors that become natural temptations for the believer and I think they need to be addressed in all of our lives. I have named a few here but there are many more. Yes, they are sinful and need to be stopped.

The following are 8 Unhealthy Christian Behaviors

1. Gossip– This virus…This rotten, hate-filled, ugly monster of a behavior easily rips through souls and congregations as if they are a paper bag. Think I am being a little harsh? I feel it is not harsh enough. Countless numbers of families, friendships, and churches have been split apart because of the seed that gossip plants. There is a difference between “hearing a prayer request” and gossip. Pray that God gives you the discernment (not the desire to justify) to make the distinction. AND, before pointing fingers, evaluate your own heart. So what if Sandy Smith (made up name) was seen at a rated R movie…have you been in God’s word consistently lately? Take this as a caution not an accusation. 

2. Duplicity– One of the hardest things to convince a nonbeliever is that this Christian life is relevant outside of the walls of the church. It absolutely is, but how much of a testimony are we displaying if we abandon our beliefs when we leave the worship service and pick them up again next Sunday? It just doesn’t make sense. The spirit of God is available to us 24/7. He desires to make us whole at home as well. Don’t be a different person in private…stay consistent.

3. Unforgiveness– The Christ-centered life revolves around forgiveness. It is the most unique doctrine in the world. The fact that the Creator of the universe, knowing that we messed up everything, has forgiven us… THAT is powerful. Why, then, do we think we are more powerful? I mean, why do we think we can withhold forgiveness to ourselves or others? Think about that… A precious gift that is given to be distributed. Amazing.

4. Arrogance– Christians should look at themselves as the servants to the world, not the rulers of all in it. This is how we operate. So, to think that our belief system somehow makes us superior to anyone is absurd. Sure, we have an excellent eternity to look forward to, but we are called to serve…not to be served. Yes, we are God’s children so there is a royal implication, but this kingdom is much different that what we are used to reading about. It is a kingdom of willing sacrifice, worship, and surrender.

5. Ignoring Conviction– If you get tired of defending your actions (even when no one is condemning them) you may be under conviction about something. This is okay. It is natural. It is simply God telling you to do something else. Aren’t you glad that we serve a God that cares enough to convict you? Give up your need to be right all the time, and defend your habits, or life patterns. Truly listen to what God has to say. Then, make the changes necessary. You will find joy in it.

6. Discontentment– There is a gray area here that I will openly admit. On one hand, it could be that God is calling you to something bigger. On the other hand, it could be that God is calling you to bloom where you are planted. In any case, though, it seems like we often get into the destructive habit of constantly being unhappy with God’s provision or His call. We want more, and bigger, and better, and rarely praise Him when things are rough or seemingly sparse. Why? He created the universe with His voice. Why can’t He create more out of our little? Sure, we can tell Him we will give more if we have more, but should He really give us more if we are not extravagantly generous with what we currently have? Will He not provide? Be content each step of the way, and pray that you recognize when He is calling you forward. 

7. Apathy– I encounter Christians, regularly, who just don’t care anymore. Perhaps they are in a spiritual slump or have unplugged from God for a while for some reason. They would not consider themselves and unbeliever, but there is definitely a hallow feeling…a “blah” feeling in their spirit. In these cases, I think God wants us to pursue Him harder than ever. Get back to the fundamentals. Reading scripture, prayer, and community worship are a great start. You will break through this… Keep reminding yourself that God’s grace does not run out just because you are tired. His power is still fully charged and ready to engage the enemy.

8. Worry– Christians call it “concern”. Stop it. He’s got this. Do I really need to remind you of the thousands of times God has come through? Do I need to remind you of the times God’s people helped you through hard times? Do I need to remind you about the times where God revealed a little personal message to you through His word? Nah…of course I don’t. You remember. If you haven’t heard this lately, let me be the one to say it…everything is going to be fine. Bigger things have happened and greater miracles are right around the corner.

I hope, as you read these, you realize that I am in the same boat. Let’s all get on an exciting new journey where we reject the things that look nothing like Jesus. It’s okay to change direction as long as it is facing toward the Father. Unaddressed unhealthy behaviors can lead to a domino affect that will create a bitterness in your heart for what God considers good.

Reflect. Recalibrate. Return to His design.

-Landon DeCrastos