Church Ministry: How To Make The Problem Worse! — The Top 3 Ways!

Someone has suggested asking this question in a problem-solving situation . . . .

If you were going to make this problem worse, how would you do it? [1]

What a great brainstorming question to ask when facing any and all problems! As stated, it requires that we invert our thinking processes which then provides a valuable and totally different vantage on the problem.

There are ministries and local churches that would do well to ask that question when dealing with a difficult situation and problem! –” What could we do to make this worse?”

The answer to that question might highlight what you do not want to do — though easily tempted and maybe even contemplating!  During my years in teaching and pastoring, I have often thought and said that some pastors create their own problems and trials in ministry.  Then they call for a pity party and claim victimhood.

Let me list out some ways to make things worse, to heighten a self-created ministry or church problem . . . .

#1 — Make Decisions Without Seeking Desiring The Sincere & Genuine Input Of Others.

They are convinced that they know what is best, and that is what will happen at the end — Every man is right in his own eyes.  The problems come because “his own eyes” and not the way others see it.  There are other ways!  There are good, better, and best ways.  There are terrible ideas that are clothed with enough euphemistic and justifying garb that such terrible ideas survive in that ministry leader’s mind.

Some take final concession as agreement. Others may go along with what the ministry leader wants — in the end — but that does not mean that they are convinced. They have merely grown tired of pushing back when the end seems certain.  The end seems certain because there is little-to-no movement or adjustment.

Make decisions without the sincere and genuine input . . . .

    • sincere and genuine input that changes and revamps an idea
    • sincere and genuine input which moves from good to better or best
    • sincere and genuine, which seeks the input of those affected, or who might well be in opposition
    • sincere and genuine input which changes an idea or decision to where it may no longer even be desired by the ministry leader
    • sincere and genuine input that even leads to its abandonment because of all of its flaws and implications
    • sincere and genuine input, which reveals that it is not best for the ministry, but self-serving.

. . . . and then send out invitations to your pity party after criticism regarding some very bad decisions.

. . . . . . 

#2 — Make Ministry About You —  about your comfort, advantage, and privilege.

If a pastor does not believe that God’s people cannot recognize a self-serving spirit, they are woefully naive, or worse yet, indifferently ignorant.

    • make decisions that do not strengthen the ministry, but make your ministry easier
    • reflect an unawareness about the health of others, but highlight your health situations
    • focus on your financial income and benefits, with little honest, practical, or authentic concern about those making far less in that ministry
    • hire, position, or highlight family members in the work of that ministry
    • keep passing off ministry to others — visitation / preaching / special day events
    • promote nepotism in that ministry
    • stay away from any “hands-on” work — alongside others
    • make “salary /benefits” and “giving” a repeated ministry topic
    • talk about how hard you have had or have it in ministry

When several of these markers show up, God’s people see them!  They understand what is taking place.  They know who is the most important person in that ministry — and it isn’t them.

Make ministry about you, and then send out invitations to your pity party and claim victimhood when people catch on!

. . . . . . 

#3 — Mishandle & Manhandle God’s People — disregard, disrespect, and even abuse your power and position in ministry.

A quick way to lose ministry leadership is to make some damaging mistakes and follow through on some terrible “people-decisions.”  I have seen youth pastors who “have to leave” because of a damaging mistake that they will never be able to outlive in that ministry.  A child or teen was injured — while a mistake and not malicious in any way — but unrecoverable!

Likewise, some terrible “people-decisions” can cause so much damage when it comes to a youth pastor, a staff member, a missionary, a ministry volunteer, a church officer, or even a well-like and long-term drifter.

Those in ministry clearly know and understand that reality.  It is supported by the fact that those in ministry will seriously consider the implications of people-decisions.  Replacing a staff member, moving someone to another position, not hiring this-or-that person, asking someone to head up a ministry, not asking someone, or even firing for a good reason all have serious ministry implications.  Ministry leaders and pastors know that!

Church life is about relationships.  That is why some people stay in churches which are doctrinally askew — “Yea, I know that they believe and teach this-or-that, but . . . . . ” That is why some people join churches that are “not their cup of tea,” but they have some good friends there!

Instead of recognizing that the ministry is filled with good and great people, see any who honestly and/or legitimately disagree as the enemy; it is you against them!  If you want to make the problem worse, be true to form and categorize those who have honest and legitimate disagreements, as trouble-makers.

After repeating the go-to argument of “sowing discord,” send out invitations to your pity party and claim victimhood.

. . . . . . 



1. If you were going to make this problem worse, how would you do it?

“Here is a wonderful gotcha! question. It comes from Sunni Brown, author of Doodle Revolution. This question is delightfully mischievous. It requires us to invert our thinking and look at a situation from a completely new angle. The insights from this question reveal to us what we should do.”

2. An example of that is Dr. John MacArthur.  At times, it is not that what he often says is not technically correct, but he chooses to make statements that create controversy — i.e. Lordship salvation / the blood of Jesus / et al.  At other times, he opens up himself to warranted or unwarranted criticism — you decide.

3. In fact, some ministry leaders live with what they deem to be “difficult people situations” for that very reason — they cannot do what they would like to do without an “uproar.”  What they would like to do has meaningful ministry implications.  To make that move may be the last straw for some of God’s people, and they suspect that — and some do it anyway — go back to points #1 & #2.

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