personal productivity

5 Biggest Time Wasters for Church Leaders

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” – Ephesians 5:15-16a

Every ministry leader I’ve met is very busy … there is always more to do that there is time to get it done. There are many things that happen in the lives of church leaders that can pull us off of our purpose or goals. Here are a few ways I’ve been distracted from doing what I’ve been called to do in my ministry. I’d love to hear from you what are time wasters in your ministry!

  • timemanagementTrivial Interruption or Ministry Opportunity?
    • We are in the people development business. We run into people throughout the course of our day. Some of these interactions are an opportunity for ministry while others of them are just interruptions. When you’re faced with a person that you hadn’t planned on interacting with during the day you need to discern which category this interaction fits into. Politely move on from trivial interruptions … dig in and minister to the people who need it.
  • Multitasking
    • Stop fooling yourself … you can’t multitask. There is evidence that the human brain is designed to only do one task at a time. [ref] When you trick yourself into thinking you are multitasking what you actually doing is just switching from one focus to another. Each time your brain has to reengage with the new task. In a fascinating study it showed it takes 15 minutes to fully regain that focus every time you switch back to serious task like sermon writing or counseling. Just “quickly checking your email” while doing other work is a productivity killer! Do just one thing at a time.
  • Travel Time
    • A part of our role as church leaders is meeting people on their turf … we go out to the coffee shop to meet volunteer leaders … or we drop by someone’s work to pick them up for a lunch meeting. Travel Time can be a huge productivity waste. Next time you drive to the town down the road to meet someone you need to do something else while you are in town to leverage that travel time. Drop in on someone else … even if it wasn’t scheduled. Don’t ever travel to a location and only do one task or have one meeting.
  • Micromanagement
    • A good leader helps their team realize they have more ability than they think they have so that they consistently do better work than they thought they could. Standing over the shoulder of your people consistently is a waste of time. If you’ve asked someone to do a task … clearly define the outcomes and then get out of the way. They might not do it as well as you … but you won’t be doing it. Good delegation redeems your time because you getting done what you need done but not investing your time to do it! 
  • Sloppy Social Media
    • I’m a huge fan of social media as a tool for ministry. In fact, I think it’s more important for pastors than churches to leverage these technologies as tools for ministry goals. However, just opening up some social network and seeing what is going on is a huge waste of time. These networks are finely tuned to draw you in and keep you connected for a long time. As an example … the “average user” is on Facebook for over 15 hours per month checking statuses, looking at pictures and farming a virtual farm! [ref] Have a plan when you engage with social media … do what you need to do and move on. 

What have you found in your ministry that draws you away from core purposes? What has been a waste of time for you? How have you fought back? Leave a comment … we’d love to hear!


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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.