The Best (Worst) Church Leadership Quotes of All-Time

The Best (Worst) Church Leadership Quotes of All-Time


Have you ever received bad advice? Maybe it was from that person who had some “suggestions” on how you can preach better. Or maybe it was from a friend who gave you some questionable suggestions in your early years of marriage. Whatever it is, we’ve all received bad advice at some point.

Well, over the years of working with churches, we’ve heard some bad advice, too.

Sometimes they make us cringe. Sometimes they make us sad. And often they make us laugh. 

So in our opinion, here are the 7 best (worst) church leadership quotes of all-time:

1) “We just need to preach the Gospel. If God wants our church to grow, then He will make it grow.”

This is a common perspective that we see in churches. As we’ve written before, the truth in this statement is that God is always Who brings the increase (1 Cor. 3:7). However, this perspective inevitably leads to complacency as we don’t take the time to consider whether how and to whom we currently share the Gospel is the most effective way to spread the message of Jesus.

Yes, we need to preach the Gospel. But the world we live in now is very different than the one we lived in when many of us started our ministry.

Let’s hold on to our methods with loose hands. 

2) “We’re a small church, so we don’t have time to improve.”

The foundation of Episode 11 of The 95 Podcast, this is a statement that we heard on a recent phone call with a pastor, and it’s similar to what we often hear from pastors who feel like the day-to-day of ministry dominates their schedule. 

But here’s the truth: Not having time for what’s most important for the long-term health of your church is a structure issue, not a size issue.

Don’t let the size of your church hold you back from taking steps to create a biblical structure, or vessel, for God to fill.

3) “God doesn’t expect small-church pastors to be equippers. Equipping is for larger churches.”

Not too long ago, we read a similar statement on the blog of a large influencer for pastors. Even if it’s not said out loud, many times we see pastors lead like all the ministry has to be on their shoulders.

Here’s what it comes down to: In Ephesians 4, we are told exactly what our role as church leaders is. We are to equip the saints for ministry. Nowhere in that passage is that role qualified by how large our congregation is.

Our job is not to make every hospital visit, lead every ministry, always be on-call, and allow our congregation to lean on us for each ministry effort. Our job is to equip the saints and develop leaders who can help us go further as a church, whether you’re a pastor of 40 people, 400 people, or 4,000 people.

4) “If something is worth doing, then it’s worth doing poorly.”

Just writing that quote makes my skin crawl. Perhaps you’ve heard this phrase used before, as it is attributed to G.K. Chesterton (though, if you’re interested, his use of the phrase had a very different meaning than how many people use it today). 

We heard this in response to a recent article on worship, particularly surrounding the emphasis we placed on excellence. We define excellence as doing the best you possibly can with the resources God has provided you.

Doing the best we can requires intentionality. 

In our life, leadership, and worship, let’s put in the hard work to do our best with what God has given us so we display the excellence of His character and give the excellence our God deserves.

5) “Since culture eats strategy for breakfast, there’s no need to develop a plan.”

This is a popular phrase often attributed to Peter Drucker. (However, it’s questionable that he ever said it.) Nevertheless, many leaders use this phrase to support the notion that strategy is really not that important in leading an organization.

Nothing could be further from the truth, especially in churches.

Without a plan, our dream of what we want to accomplish in our communities is just that: a dream. Only when we take the time to think through who we are, what we want to accomplish, and how we’ll do it, are we able to make progress towards accomplishment.

And hey, even if culture does eat strategy for breakfast, here’s a next step: Develop a strategy to change your culture!

6) “If I don’t understand something, then I’ll just avoid it.”

I hope this one speaks for itself, but this is a quote we’ve actually heard and seen played out in leadership. And it flows out of insecurity.

Insecure leaders will feel intimidated by empowering people who are better than them at something. They will make decisions that please people instead of push the ministry forward. And they will consciously or subconsciously keep the organization at a place where they feel comfortable.

If we don’t understand something, or if we lack the skill, we have two options: Get training or empower someone who’s better than us.

7) “If you’re unhealthy, just keep pressing on. You will eventually get healed by continuing to do what you’ve always done.”

Again, this is a real thing we’ve heard, as if our faithfulness is at risk when we recognize our limitations.

Burnout is real, especially in ministry. When we refuse to give ourselves necessary space away from the church and the demands of ministry, we perpetuate a cycle that, put simply, will lead us down a very dangerous slope.

If you’re unhealthy, take a step back. An unhealthy leader inevitably creates an unhealthy organization.

That’s our list! What would you add? What are some of the worst church leadership quotes you’ve heard?

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