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My Greatest Ministry Mistakes

The most important lesson I learned from Circle Church was to change my perception of how to measure success.
—David Mains with Philip Yancey

When I was first approached to write an article on painful lessons I learned from ten years at Circle Church, my immediate reaction was to review instead all the successes. Pastors easily fall into the success trap that permeates our culture. We laud winning teams, fire coaches of losing teams. And while we read about "the largest Sunday schools in America," we rarely read about struggling or declining churches. They just don't make the news.

I have already had my chance, though. I wrote the book Full Circle when our four-year-old church in Chicago was still moving toward its zenith. We had started with a few friends and a dream to establish a church in the infertile inner city. Ultimately, five hundred people piled into a union hall ballroom each Sunday morning to participate in stirring, creative worship experiences. Circle was a beehive of activities: ...

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