Over twenty years of consulting with more than 40 denominations has allowed me to see some common tactical mistakes made by church leaders. Although I have seen many mistakes, six stand out as the most common tactical mistakes made by church leaders (I have ranked them according to the damage they can do to a church’s ministry). Usually these mistakes are hallmarks of declining congregations. So if your church is declining, and you are doing any of the following, it will be in your best interest to change your tactics.
Mistake Number One -failure to combine evangelism and social justice into the fabric of the church. The entire debate between traditional and emergent churches stems from this failure. Any form of reductionism truncates the Gospel.
Mistake Number Two -putting a long section of announcements at the beginning of the worship service. It’s like tuning into the beginning of a sitcom only to find all of the commercials loaded up front before anything else happens. Instead, begin worship with a rousing piece of music that says “Something great is going to happen here today.” If you have to do announcements, don’t lead off with them. Please.
Mistake Number Three – making the first staff hire a Youth Director instead of a Worship Leader. Most church leaders still have not gotten the message – the world we live in has one universal language – Music, and mostly Rock n Roll.
Mistake Number Four – the lead pastor in a church under five hundred in worship does not personally contact first time guests within 48 hours. I know much of the prevailing wisdom is people are more likely to return to your church if the laity visits them. It’s just not so. Pastor, if your church is under five hundred in worship, visit your first time guests within 48 hours.
Mistake Number Five -hiring Associate Pastors who are generalist rather than specialists. The day of generalists is coming to an end.
Mistake Number Six -asking a paid, retired Associate Pastor to be responsible for visiting the guests. Our experience is that people under the age of 40 respond better to someone either their age or younger than they are.