There Are No “Right” People for Your Church, Just People

bus“Get the right people on the bus” has been one of the most popular sayings in church leadership circles over the last few years.

It sounds right.

But it’s not. At all.

The phrase comes from the world of business. Specifically from Jim Collins and his very good business book, Good to Great. The idea is that, when you’re selling a service or a product, you need to start with people who have the right mix of skills, emotional balance, relational IQ, etc. Otherwise, you’ll spend all your time infighting instead of producing goods or services and making money.

In a business model, the people on the bus are the human resources (HR) that the leadership uses to get the job done.

But applying the “right people” principle to the church is where we run into a problem, A big problem.

In the church, the people are not a means to an end. They are not the tools we use to create a needed product or service. In a church, the people are the product. They’re not resources, they’re the result.

They’re not on the bus to help you get you to your destination. They are the destination.

People worshiping Jesus and sharing his love with other people are what the church exists for. There is no other destination. We are the church.


Jesus Picked All the Wrong People – Including You and Me

Take a look at the disciples Jesus picked. Talk about not getting the right people on his bus! 

But that was always Jesus’ way. Working with all the wrong people and being opposed by all the right ones.

What does your church look like? Is it filled with all the wrong people?

Have you been frustrated by them? Do you get angry at them? Do you wonder what God could possibly have been thinking when he saddled you with them, while the pastor on the other side of town seems to have all the right people?

Here’s a sobering thought. If you think that about them, they’ve probably thought that about you, too.

Jesus got frustrated by the same people problems we all face. At one point he screamed out “How long will I have to put up with you!”, to his disciples. At another time, he called one of his closest friends, Satan.

But that never stopped him from loving them, using them and changing the world through them.

The right people may build businesses and make a lot of money. But it’s always the wrong people who change the world.


So what do you think? What does God want to do through you and the “wrong” people he’s brought into your life and ministry?

We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
Enter your comment right below this post and get in on the conversation.

(School Bus photo from Woodley Wonder Works • Flickr • Creative Commons license) 

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8 thoughts on “There Are No “Right” People for Your Church, Just People”

  1. Yes Yes Yes! I was given that advice when I first started to plant our church – that is, to avoid certain types of people. I’m so glad I didn’t take it. The result is that we have formed a community of people who have learned gospel values – values of acceptance, speaking the truth in love and service. But more than that, God has changed me into the kind of person and Pastor I need to be (well, still more work to be done). I have learned to love the people he has given me and the church I am Pastoring rather than the one in my head.

  2. pastor gparkin

    How many times and how many ways can I say YES! Great congregations always model this priceless principle. Sometimes they aren’t even small congregations.

  3. I agree that “getting the right people on the bus” is not appropriate for the church as a whole. However, the principle is better applied when forming ministry teams and committees. To have the right people on the bus would be to invite people with complimentary gifts and talents onto a committee or team, people who have the skills needed to accomplish the objective. When I think about getting the right people on the bus, I am looking for diversity in order to create a more holistic team. It is our very diversity that makes us interdependent!

    1. Andee, I agree that there are definitely some personality and skill factors that need to be taken into account when forming leadership teams. But other than in cases of extreme behaviors (abuse, sin, laziness, etc.) I think we can actually use many people in leadership that others would consider “wrong” for the job. As it turns out, I’m working on a new blog post on this subject (maybe even a series of them). It’s tentatively titled “Great Church Leadership Teams Aren’t Hired, They’re Built”. and it will probably be posted in the next week or two.

  4. Yes! Just read today inmy devotions that the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. People often try to squeeze worldly principes into the church saying that we should use them. True..but only to a point, and only just a little. The more a church begins to be run and look like a business the less it looks and behaves like a body, a family and a bride.

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