One of the biggest problems with becoming a church that lives out the goal of being the best church for the community, is that churches rarely exercise the discipline to work at a high level. While affirming the truth of Colossians 3:13 (“Whatever you do in word or deed, do it as unto the Lord…”), too many churches live like theirs is a God of low expectations. Churches often have bad work habits that undermine their effectiveness and keep them at a frustrating level of mediocrity. Sam Rainer in Church Forward identifies the worst of this work habits.
CNN.com recently posted on 10 of the worst work habits. After reading the article, I could not help but to view these bad habits through the lens of church life. So I’ve reworked the top ten list as it pertains to the daily tasks of ministry. You can read the original article here.
1. Procrastination. It’s harmful at any level, but the effects of this bad habit are compounded at higher leadership levels. If a ministry leader or senior pastor consistently procrastinates, then everyone is forced into a last minute fiasco. If top leaders don’t plan ahead, then by default no one plans ahead.
2. Sloppy communication. My second biggest pet peeve is poor grammar and careless writing. Write in complete sentences. Proof the worship guide. Check press releases for time and location errors. Stop splitting infinitives. Fill in the email subject line. And don’t chew gum or crunch ice in a meeting, which is my biggest pet peeve.
3. Confusing informal with disrespectful. I doubt most pastors would prefer to be called “The Most Holy Reverend Doctor.” In my experience, most church staff are on a first name basis. In church work, a direct superior may also be a best friend, but authority and submission must remain intact.
4. Taking advantage of leeway. For me, one of the most refreshing parts of being called into ministry from the corporate world was flexible hours. I work longer, more intense hours at the church, but I don’t have to be at my desk for specific times anymore. I’ve seen many workaholic pastors and many lazy pastors, with very few in between. Neither extreme is admirable, but lazy pastors are especially harmful to Kingdom work.
5. Refusing to mingle. It’s a sad truth, but you can work at a church and never be among the people.
6. Consistently running late or going over. A person who does not honor time parameters erodes trust. Occasional offenses are forgivable. A pattern of time abuse shows disrespect for others.
7. Staying in a silo. Most midsize to large churches have departments, programs, and separate ministries. Clear distinctions of job responsibilities accompany these silos. The mission killer is usually not the silo. The mission killer is the “it’s not my job” attitude.
8. Acting as the resident contrarian. “Yes” men and women are annoying. People who always believe their ideas are better are doubly annoying.
9. Electronically badmouthing the church. A blog is tantamount to speaking on a street corner with a megaphone. Not too many people would air dirty laundry that way. An even more cowardly action is blog-bashing a church.
10. Politicking. Church work requires smoothing edges and rubbing shoulders with the right people. Consistent politicking, however, makes people question a person’s motivation.
The list is not exhaustive, so feel free to add any long-term bad behaviors that you believe are detrimental to the church.