Despite the fact that my 2-year old consistently reminds me “We don’t use that word!” (stupid) in our house, I decided to read Ten Stupid Things That Keep Churches From Growing anyway. I’m glad I did. Geoff Surratt, a creative leader with a ton of experience, published this book in 2009 in hopes of “helping leaders overcome costly mistakes.”
I was a little skeptical when I initially picked up this book a few weeks ago, but Surratt won me over immediately with his self-deprecating humor and down-to-earth wisdom. I literally laughed out loud several times as I made my way through the chapters. He writes as a veteran pastor who confesses that he’s made “every mistake in this book and so many more.” After years as an associate pastor, he led a church in Texas for about two and half years, making mistake after mistake, until he eventually burned out and took an extended time away from vocational ministry. He then joined the pastoral staff at Seacoast Church in South Carolina (a church that now runs 10,000+), which was planted by his brother Greg in the late 80’s.
The layout of the book is excellent. Surratt writes each chapter pulling from both his mistakes and the successes they’ve seen at Seacoast in the last couple decades, and each chapter ends with an interview from one of leading pastors in the country. In the interviews these pastors (everyone from Dino Rizzo to Mark Batterson to Craig Groeschel to Perry Nobel, among others) share their personal experiences regarding the issues discussed. All of this adds up to a wealth of knowledge pulled from transformational leaders who have seen both victories and defeats.
As a basic summary, here are the 10 stupid mistakes Surratt lists. If you’re a pastor or church leader this book is really worth purchasing and reading, perhaps this summary will peak your interest.
1) Trying to Do It All
2) Establishing the Wrong Role for the Pastor’s Family
3) Providing a Second-Rate Worship Experience
4) Settling for Low Quality in Children’s Ministry
5) Promoting Talent over Integrity
6) Clinging to a Bad Location
7) Copying Another Successful Church
8) Favoring Discipline over Reconciliation
9) Mixing Ministry and Business
10) Letting Committees Steer the Ship
If you’re in any form of church leadership (or working toward it), I think you’ll really enjoy this book. It’s a quick read, very funny and engaging, and the practical lessons and application are extremely valuable. I highly recommend it.