Get Off the Bus

Jim Collins is best known for his bestselling book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. One of the main takeaways from the book is this concept of getting the right people on the bus. What churches so often forget is that it’s equally important to get the wrong people off the bus.


From the day I started kindergarten until the day I got my driver’s license at the age of 17, I had to ride the school bus. I was one of the first kids to get picked up each morning, which meant I was one of the last kids to get dropped off in the afternoons. I spent way more time on a school bus as a child than I ever did in church.

You learn a lot of things growing up on the school bus–some good, some bad. It all depended on who was on the bus.

Your church isn’t that different from the school bus. There are people in your church that create a positive experience, and there are people that create a negative experience. There are people who help your church grow, and people who don’t.

These people may be on staff, they may be volunteers, or they may just be someone who carries a lot of influence. The important thing to remember is just one wrong person on the bus can ruin the ride for everyone else.

So, how do you go about identifying these people? My guess is most of you already know who they are in your church, but just in case you need a little help, I’ve put together the following list.

  • Someone who is always negative. They can find a problem in any plan. They love to play devil’s advocate. They refuse to celebrate no matter how well things are going. They are dream crushers. They “protect you from having unrealistic goals.
  • Someone who doesn’t support the vision. This person absolutely hates change and will do whatever it takes to keep things the same. They often work behind the scenes to turn people against you and cast doubt in the direction you’re trying to go.
  • Someone who doesn’t fit the culture. This is more of a staff dynamic, because one of the worst things you can do is bring on a staff member that doesn’t gel with the team. You can tell this is happening by watching the mood of the room change when they walk in.
  • Someone who isn’t qualified for his or her position. If you have someone who can’t sing, why are they leading worship? If you have musicians that can’t play or teachers who can’t teach or kids’ ministry volunteers that are terrible with kids, take them out of those positions. Don’t sacrifice the vision because you’re afraid to hurt someone’s feelings.

Getting the wrong people off the bus isn’t easy. In fact, it can be quite messy. But if you’re going to have any chance of getting to where God wants you to go, it’s necessary.

Who have I left out? Who are some other people that we all need to get off the bus? Let us know in the comments below.

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