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July 20, 2017

10 Ways Leading a Church is More Difficult than Leading a Business

By Daniel Im

Ministry leaders often underestimate the responsibility and pressure of their roles. While noble and eternally rewarding, the oversight of a church is not for the faint of heart. Bob Russell, sheds some light on the difficulties and challenges that church pastors face. He quotes Peter Drucker who once said, “The four hardest jobs in America are the president of the United States, a university president, a CEO of a hospital, and a pastor.” From his experience, Bob has concluded that leading a church is more difficult than overseeing a business in 10 ways.

1. We work with a cumbersome structure.

In business, there’s usually a simple organizational chart with an executive at the top and the lines of responsibility clearly defined. That is not always the case with churches. Though denominational structures vary, most ministries have to work with two silos of leadership—the staff and the elders. The lines of authority are often unclear causing the two groups to battle for control. This can slow down any meaningful impact.

2. Murky goals

Businesses usually state their purpose clearly. In churches, on the other hand, there is not a common understanding of how to measure a win. Bob says that success, in many churches, is a moving target. He emphasizes that it is helpful to have a distinctive mission statement so that everyone is on the same page.

3. The ministry attracts more than its share of kooky people.

The business world rejects applications of those who don’t fit, but the church exists for the misfits. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says whatever you do for the least of these, you also do for Him. Bob notes that we are instructed to seek, save, and love those who are outcast and alone.

4. Long-term members consider themselves experts.

Very few people in the business world know what goes on in the day-to-day, but people who have been in the church for a while claim to be experts. Bob says there are a lot of people in the pews who think they know how the preacher ought to preach, who he should hire and fire, and so forth.

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  • “No matter how tough things get, the Lord will be with us, deliver us, and keep His promise to never leave or forsake us.”-@BobRussellKY
  • “We are instructed to seek, save, and love those who are outcast and alone.”-@BobRussellKY
  • “It takes an extra measure of grace for the minister to cope with the pressure put on him by the people who consider themselves experts on how to run the church.”-@BobRussellKY
  • “Success, in many churches, is a moving target.”-@BobRussellKY


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Senior Associate Pastor of Beulah Alliance Church, a multiplying multisite church focused on reaching 1% of Edmonton for Christ. His latest book is You Are What You Do: And Six Other Lies about Work, Life, and Love. He is also the author of No Silver Bullets and co-author of Planting Missional Churches. He co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, as well as the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Because of their love for the local church, after pioneering and leading the church multiplication initiative for LifeWay, Daniel and his wife, Christina, moved back to Canada with their three children. For more information, visit danielim.com and follow him on social media @danielsangi.


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