Criticism: The Price of Growth

No matter what you do as a pastor or a leader, you will be criticized. You can count on it.
No matter what you do as a pastor or a leader, you will be criticized. You can count on it. (Lightstock )

If you are going to attempt to lead your church in growth, you will be criticized. Period.

If the apostle Paul was ruthlessly criticized at every step of his journey, you can pretty much assume that you will be too.

What I tell senior pastors that I coach is that the good news is that criticism and leadership pretty much go hand in hand, so no matter what you do, you'll be criticized.

Try something new and you'll get criticized. Try to keep things the same and you'll get criticized. Try to avoid being criticized and you'll (you guessed it) get criticized.

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As a senior pastor, your job is to stand up and take the hits.

Criticism is the one thing that that will come your way no matter how kind you are, how effective you are or how godly you are. Criticism is no respecter of persons.

Holy Spirit-Inspired Change

Years ago when our church was trying to grow beyond 300 I felt a crystal clear call from God to lead our congregation through three difficult changes.

I knew going into it that the changes would be immensely difficult on our church, our staff and, ultimately, me. However, I was convinced these were the steps God wanted us to take to strategically move to the next stage of growth in our church.

Three months after leading our community through those changes, we added 100 new people almost overnight. To me, the changes were clearly inspired and directed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Nevertheless, I have to say that it would have been a whole lot easier to just keep things the way they were.

A Startling Realization

After services one day, while we were in the middle of those changes, I got blindsided by one critical person after another that didn't understand the need for the changes being implemented.

I could sympathize with them; I hardly understood myself.

The only thing I knew was I was being led by God to make them.

With tears in my eyes, I walked off, hid in a room, took out a pad of paper and a pen and wrote the following words:

"The reason the vast majority of churches never reach their full redemptive potential is because at every stage of growth, the point person, the person charged with rallying the troops, figures out that the price is too high."

Every senior pastor, at some point, clearly sees the price that must be paid to achieve God's vision for his or her church.

At that point a decision must be made: "Am I willing to pay that price?"

How would you answer that question?

Brian Jones is the founder and senior pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley, a church that has grown to 2,000-plus people in the northwest suburbs of Philadelphia. His personal passion is to encourage and coach fellow senior pastors in the trenches. He is the author of several books, including Second Guessing God and Hell is Real (But I Hate to Admit It). Connect with Brian at or on Twitter @brianjonesblog.

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