The Value of Criticism in Ministry


by Brian Jones

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.

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

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, and 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 their church.

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

How would you answer that question?


I’m the founding Senior Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in the suburbs of Philadelphia. In 13 years the church has grown from a small group in my home to over 2,000 incredible people. Before that I served in churches of 25 to 600 in attendance. I love church planters and pastors of smaller churches, and totally understand the difficult challenges they face as they try to help people find their way back to God.

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