- Going 4 years to Bible College. What? It was a mistake to go to Bible College? Well, yes and no. I feel after 15 years of ministry experience that Bible College did little to nothing to prepare me for ministry. I would recommend all would-be pastors go to Bible College for a year to study the Bible wholeheartedly and then to go to a 4 year college and major in something other than ministry. Especially if you are going into church planting. It sucks to be bi-vocational and all of your experience and education is in “church work”. I feel that ministry is all I know and I’ve got nothing else to “fall back” on.
- Being too eager to just get into ministry after college. I was so eager to get started in the ministry after college, that I took a job at a church that wasn’t a good fit. The senior pastor was cruising to retirement, had no vision and I was very frustrated being in that environment for almost 5 years.
- Not Making sure that my boss had a vision for ministry that was similar to mine. I’ve made this mistake twice. When someone “above you” doesn’t have the same vision for ministry or a similar philosophy of ministry to yours, you are just setting yourself up for trouble.
- Using personal money for church related things. Even when my wife didn’t want me to, I did anyway. Bad move….one of my worst. If your church can’t afford it don’t do it, raise the money, or make sure you both (you and your wife) agree to use your personal funds.
- Trying to change a church that doesn’t want to change. I was always “the rebel”, because I questioned things. Why do we do that? What is the purpose? Is this really effective? Can we try this? Why have we always done it this way? Seriously, some churches don’t want to change. There is a level of comfort that the people aren’t willing to give up. Stop wasting so much time trying to rearrange the chairs on the deck of the Titanic and go somewhere that you can believe in!
- Doing it all myself. I’ve never been good at delegating. I’m getting better though!
- Sacrificing my personal time with God for ministry. Doing, doing, doing, but never refilling my spiritual tank. Trying to lead people to a place I have never been.
- Trying to act like I had all the answers. This is a fault of many pastors. We think people need spiritual superheroes when all they need is a guide who understands, empathizes and is real, not afraid to admit their own struggles.
- Playing Favorites. Even when I didn’t realize it, I sometimes alienated people to hang out with others.
- Trying to copy someone else’s ministry. I get ideas from alot of places, but we must always ask ourselves….what does God want in our Church? I milk alot of cows, but make my own butter!
- Cheating my family instead of the Church. If you must choose between your family and the church….always choose your family. There you go, you have my permission.
- Being obsessed with numbers. While numbers (attendance, salvations, baptisms) are useful to pastors for the purpose of keeping track of your effectiveness, they don’t tell the whole story. So many churches ask people to raise their hands to indicate a profession of faith, quickly count those numbers and then drop the ball on any true follow-up. We can make an eternal difference ONE person at a time!
- Reading more books besides the Bible. Don’t get me wrong, read! I read leadership books, ministry books, self-help books, Harry Potter books (am I going to Hell?), but we should never let those books replace our time in God’s Word.
You see, I’ve made many mistakes, and I continue to make them and always will. Hopefully you can avoid some of the same mistakes I’ve made.