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5 Signs of Bad Church Leadership to Watch Out for

As church members, we are responsible for recognizing signs of bad church leadership and correcting them immediately to promote a healthy, safe, and friendly church environment. 

The church is a place where you go to connect with God, spread positivity, and give and receive love. But, power and control often stray church and ministry leaders from the righteous path and lead them to narcissism and abuse. This has lasting effects on people, which causes them to leave for seasons or switch churches altogether. 

Bad church leadership will eventually lead to a dying church. If your church isn’t your safe space any longer, it might be time to take action. Today, ChMeetings will discuss the five biggest signs of bad church leadership to look out for, and how your ministry can work together to tackle these issues.

5  Bad Church Signs – How to Recognize a Bad Pastor

1- Dirty Politics Reigns

Politics has no role in the church. So if you feel like a presidential campaign manager trying to win favors to get anything done, that’s a sign of toxic church culture. 

Decisions made inside the church should benefit the whole community, not just a select few. Unfortunately, if you’ve noticed the following things happening, things have become political in your church community:

  • Most decisions are made outside of meetings without taking in the opinions of others.
  • You can’t get anything without having to offer something in return.
  • Congregants are forming alliances, and there is general hostility against each other.

If you have to court favors, lobby, or persuade people to get a decision made, this is a sign of toxic church members and an unhealthy environment. 

How to fix this

Changing how the decision-making takes place is no easy task and cannot be done overnight. However, you can opt to discuss with your community members how to resolve this and come to a decision that everyone is on board with. 

Another way is to reach out to your district and see if any church leadership programs or mentorship resources are available to resolve this problem. 

2- The Pastor Makes all the Decisions

A leader is supposed to lead, not dictate or make all the decisions alone. This is often done unconsciously; the pastor doesn’t realize they are doing all the heavy lifting. When the board entirely relies on the pastor and behaves like sheep, you know there’s a problem. 

A few signs of this are, the leadership team ensuring things are only done the way they like, the board never disagreeing with the pastor, and the pastor refusing to admit their mistakes or accept constructive criticism. 

How to fix this

While things are getting done, if the congregation relies on one person for all their decisions, eventually cracks will form. This creates a toxic environment where everyone else feels unimportant, and their opinions are invalid. 

The perfect way to fix this is by delegating work and involving church members in decision-making. If you’re a pastor, you’ll be surprised to see how your work life improves because of this and how active and joyful the congregation will become. 

Remember, “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions.” – (Proverbs 18:2). 

3- There is no Love between the Church Members

When the service ends at your church, what do the members do? Do they immediately scatter, or do most stay and chat? If it is the former, then the members do not feel a connection with one another, which is a Church’s responsibility to build.

Can you imagine a classroom where none of the students have friends or a family gathering where no one is fond of anyone? It certainly sounds miserable. That is the state of your church. A pastor must ensure the members have a chance to develop a bond or at least feel like they’re part of a supportive community.

“By this, all men will know you are my disciples,” our Lord said, “that you love one another” – (John 13:34-35). 

4- Leaders Lack Understanding of Scripture

A definite sign of bad church leadership is leaders cramming the teachings of the bible into the members’ heads rather than focusing on what the scriptures actually mean. Lacking working knowledge of the bible is like working on autopilot—you know what you’re doing but don’t know why. 

Is it not usually the case that we just open one book of the Bible and read without really understanding? The pastor’s responsibility is to focus entirely on one book at a time, teach the meanings behind the words of God, and how they should be assimilated into life before moving on to another book. 

Has your pastor taught you the difference between the New and Old Testaments? Or the difference between epistles and gospels? If not, then it’s time to make some changes. 

How to fix this

If you’re the pastor of your church, it might be time to take a new, more thorough approach to teach your church members not just what God said but what He meant by it too, and how they can apply those teachings in their day-to-day life. 

5- No One Wants to Put in The Work to Better Their Church

Taking a dying church and breathing life into it again requires dedication, hard work, time, and often, pain. If you noticed you’ve put on a lot of weight or have picked up on a bad habit, you can’t correct it in one day; it’s a gradual process. 

If your church would rather die than work on itself to quit its self-destructive ways, then there is little hope for it to ever become healthy again. A church that realizes it needs to make changes, even on its deathbed, has a chance to become better again. 

How to fix this

If the problems have become beyond repair, it might be time to seek outside help. By welcoming outside leadership and learning from their guidance, a dying church may have a second shot at life. The process won’t be pain-free, but it will be worth it.

Do not blame the pastor, the deacons, or the environment of the church. Change starts with yourself. When you are willing to take responsibility for your church, you’ll see a positive outcome. You might not be responsible for everything, but you can do your part for what you are responsible for. 

Even if no one else is willing to take on the responsibility, incite change. Do your part. Even if the church doesn’t get healthier, you will. If it becomes too much for you, you can join or start a church with a healthy culture instead. 

Poor Management Leads to Poor Church Leadership

In most cases, it’s not the pastor, board members, or even individual fault that results in a toxic church environment. Usually, the environment is the result of an outdated management system. This causes poor communication between members, lack of awareness about church events, and friction between the deacons. 

With a professional church management software in place, task delegation will become easy, donations will be organized, and your church members will remain engaged as they’ll be aware of all the events, competitions, and church information. 

This will result in a prosperous church environment where everyone is doing their part and contributing to the church. 

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