5 Causes For Bad Decisions

  • Who Decided That?
  • What In World Are They Doing?
  • This Is Getting Out Of Hand! Where Are The Adults In The Room?
  • I’m Out Of Here!
  • Who Came up With That Bright Idea?
  • Time To Find A Different Church!


These, and many other comments and mental responses, are all too typical when a church is on the brink of pastoral ineffectiveness — or worse. The decisions and actions of leadership are no longer acceptable to more and more members — or staff.  

Leadership has lost the confidence of its members and friends because the decisions and actions are becoming more and more unrelatable and inexplicable!  This reality is witnessed over and over in ministries and local churches.

I have often repeated to individuals, who are upset at what is happening at their local church, this list of five of the typical dynamics operating behind the decisions and actions in a ministry or a local church. . . . 

  • Ideology
  • Inapitude In Administration
  • Inadequate Business Sense
  • A Terrible Work-ethic
  • A Self-inflicted Limitation Of Options


Ideology:  One of the dynamics which often drives decisions and actions is theological ideology. The ideology, a set of doctrines shared by other members of the theological world, guides the ministry leader or pastor’s decisions and/or actions.

Whether it be a denominational ideology (i.e. about the infant baptist / the sacraments), or an adopted theological ideology (i.e. Calvinism / the gifts of the Spirit), or a present popular trend (i.e. the trumpeted benefit of small groups / chiasms), or a secular political adherence (i.e. a politically conservative devotion / MAGA), it is a set of beliefs that accompany that ideology that is pushing and driving some of the decisions and actions.

Inapitude In Administration: Sometimes, poor decisions and actions are due to the lack of administrative ability. This-or-that leader is a weak-to-terrible administrator.  

  • They are naive and do not know how the various parts and pieces of the ministry operate. They are not curious enough to learn and understand that area and/or how this-or-that part of the ministry or staff works.
  • They do not have the temperament to hold people accountable. They dislike confrontation and/or upsetting others on the staff.
  • They are innocently aloof from what is actually happening in the ministry or local church. They stay in their area of ministry and allow others to freely (with little oversight )operate in theirs.
  • They are willingly ignorant because they do not want to know or understand. Because to know is also to be held responsible.
  • They unwisely delegate because they do not like the administrative side of leadership — “Let someone else on the staff address this-or-that!”
  • Or the “Peter Principle” may be operating. [1] They were promoted to an administrative position of which they are ill-suited.

Inadequate Business Sense: Sometimes, poor decisions and actions are due to the lack of business sense. It is not easy to operate any business. Ask and small business owner. Sometimes a business owner is great at their “craft,” but terrible at running the business. What do they do? They hire an accountant or business-minded individual who can make the business side operate wisely and effectively!

Without the ability to understand how to work through the financial challenges and/or how to arrive at good business decisions, weak and bad decisions begin to pile up, and often close down a business.

A Terrible Work Ethic:  A shaky or awful work ethic can also be what stands behind the decisions and actions of ministry. The leader is lazy and makes self-serving decisions, decisions that are not in the best interest of the ministry or local church, but are in their best interest. The decisions don’t make the ministry stronger, and in fact, it may even weaken it. Nevertheless, with or without the consent of the membership, changes are made, actions are announced, and/or others are persuaded to support various decisions because of a lazy spirit.

Do all you can to detect laziness before you hire. There is a reason that the book of Proverbs highlights the sluggard/slothful! Never hire a lazy leader, they will not only fail to work hard for the effective development of the ministry, but they will accept the same lack of energy from those they supervise!

A Self-inflicted Limitation Of Options:  When poor decisions follow poor decisions, follow poor decisions, the options increasingly become more and more limited. Some bad decisions and actions are the result of previous bad choices. It is just that good decisions and actions are no longer viable (or even thought of) because those options have been eliminated. They have been eradicated by the previous bad decision.

The ministry leader or pastor finds himself making another bad decision, or taking another flimsy action, because they no longer have many or any other choice.

1. The Peter Principle simply stated is that, sooner or later, given time and opportunity, everyone will be promoted to a level of incompetence.  Throw in pride, arrogance, over-confidence, and/or a terrible lack of self-awareness, and you have a perfect storm brewing!

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