Great Churches Aren’t Perfect Churches

Great Churches Aren’t Perfect Churches

Jesus launched the church. It was messy, and led by flawed leaders.

The early church began in a time where the culture was shifting, political and religious leaders didn’t agree, and the fledging churches had their own internal problems. (Sound familiar?)

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. Acts 6:1

  • It can be tough listening to complaints about the things people don’t like.
  • It can be discouraging when people leave your church for the next new cool church across town.
  • It can be frustrating when after years some people still consume more than they contribute.

This is part of life and leadership in the local church, so it’s better for leaders to adjust their perspective in order to lead more effectively.

This doesn’t suggest that you should stop caring or should just go with the flow. It means to do your best to not let these things get to you.

The fact that all churches are imperfect does not justify lack of vision, casual leadership or sloppy programs. It’s merely a truth that can help us as leaders see that making progress and solving problems is core to our work.

If successfully leading a local church was easy, nearly anyone could do it. There would be no need to develop yourself to lead better.

5 Do’s and Don’ts to Lead Better in an Imperfect Church:

1) Do see the church as beautiful in all its flaws.

I appreciate a nicely landscaped yard, and growing up in San Diego I became accustomed to seeing green grass and trees with leaves all year round. That’s not the case in Atlanta. The grass goes dormant, the leaves fall off, and most plants and flowers don’t look vibrant as in the winter.

A friend of mine in the landscaping business reminds me that it’s just as beautiful in the winter as the spring and summer. I’ll admit that it is sometimes difficult for me to see and appreciate. He often says, “Nature isn’t perfect but it’s still beautiful.”

I think the church is similar. It’s not perfect but it’s still beautiful. I see that in the church. People are not perfect. I’m not and you’re not. But the beauty in each person, in each creation, is still there. And we all see what we look for.

That kind of perspective changes how we lead. We become more patient, we see growth as a natural process, and it’s easier to lead with grace.

2) Do view problems as an opportunity for progress.

If you see problems as negative and unnecessary thorns in your side, they will exhaust you, discourage you and deplete the energy you need to focus on solutions.

Most of the great breakthroughs and innovative ideas are a result of problems being viewed not as a problem to solve, but an opportunity to make things better.

If you have a breakdown in a ministry, a staffing issue or struggles with finances, these can all be an opportunity to improve your church.

2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” – Acts 6:2-4

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Dan Reiland
Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together.