4 Ministry Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

I make mistakes. I make mistakes often. And I try to learn from them. Here are 4 ministry mistakes that I found myself making. Some of these mistakes I still make, but I’m working on it.

1. Spending too much time doing and not enough time thinking.

As a leader, you and I find ourselves wanting to act and move forward. I don’t want to stand still. I want to plan and prepare and be a change agent and serve as many church members as I can. We’re about action. Do. Do. Do.

There’s power in stopping. There’s power in thinking and reflecting on what I am doing. I need to take the time to reflect. Here are the things I need to reflect on most:

  • Learn from previous experiences and programs so that I can be a better leader.
  • Strategically planning for my ministry.
  • Examining how God is moving through my life and ministry.

2. Not coaching your volunteers.

How I wish all my volunteers were experts at ministry. I know that’s not the case, yet sometimes I treat them as if they are. Once a volunteer says yes, I give them tasks to do and then I move on to another project. I ignore the fact that they need guidance from me.

This guidance comes in the form of coaching and mentoring. When a volunteer begins to serve in ministry, I need to spend adequate time equipping and preparing them for the ministry I have asked them to do. Until they are ready, I need to intentionally spend time coaching them.

3. Allowing anyone who asks to volunteer.

I know you badly need more volunteers. As your ministry grows, this will always be the case. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to serve as a volunteer. It is a big mistake to invite a volunteer to serve when they are not ready. They can poison the ministry and your other volunteers, causing them to leave the ministry.

If your curious who shouldn’t volunteer for you, here’s a few:

  • The needy volunteer: they need to be ministered to, not volunteer.
  • The gossip: they will tear your ministry apart with every word they speak.
  • The negative volunteer: attitudes are contagious. If one person is negative, it can rub off on everyone.

4. Not returning phone calls or emails in a timely manner.

When a parent or church member calls or emails you, they are asking for your help. Sometimes it’s a major deal. Most of the time, they are calling about mundane things. Regardless, that email or phone call represents someone who you are called to serve. Returning their message in a timely manner communicates to them that you want to serve them.

My rule? Return all messages or phone calls within 24-48 hours, unless it’s a holiday, day off, or I’m on vacation. Even then, I set up my away messages to let them know that I am away and that I will get back to them as soon as I can.

Question: Are you making any of these mistakes? Are there others you would add to the list?

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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