6 Objections Good-Idea-Snipers Use to Shoot Down Your New Ministry Opportunities

You have attended a frustrating meeting or two if you’ve been in ministry long enough. One of the most frustrating elements of meetings are good-idea-snipers. When someone floats a wild, new idea for a ministry – that’s so crazy it just might work – they raise their scope to their eye, and start firing off reasons why it won’t.

Of course, they wouldn’t say their mission is shoot down good ideas. Usually, in church contexts, good-idea-snipers have good intentions. But they tend to be reluctant to move new ministry initiatives forward because they are comfortable with the ministry where it is (snipers are usually lying down when they fire, right?).

Snipers, generally speaking, are dangerous because they hide. But their weakness is that they become exposed as soon as they fire a shot. So I’ve listed six objections that will expose the good-idea-snipers in your meeting. Knowing what you’re up against will equip you to prepare Kevlar-strength responses to their illogical objections.

1. “How do you plan to accomplish that?” This objection fails to distinguish the “what” from the “how.” Not having a detailed plan for a new ministry doesn’t mean the idea itself should be rejected. If the idea itself has merit, it shouldn’t matter whether or not the plans are in place. Moreover, developing the best steps to execute a good idea is often the product of group brainstorming, not individual reflection.

2. “What if…” “What if it rains?” “What if no one comes?” “What if no one volunteers to help?” Nothing derails the flow of a meeting like coming up with contingency plans for improbable problems. “What if it doesn’t work?” isn’t the scariest question. “What if it does work?” is even scarier, because then you will have to deal with a whole new set of obstacles of the unpredictable variety.

3. “That has never worked before.” This statement assumes two things: one, we gave our best crack at it the first time (doubtful), and, two, our circumstances right now correspond closely to the last time we tried it. That puts the onus on you to show what could have been done better last time, why now is the time to pull the trigger.

4. “Certain people won’t like it.” This objection fails to distinguish merit of your idea from the response it might receive from the congregation, as if the two were inextricably linked. Leading to please the minority invariably leads to the demise of any organization. If you are in the mood to answer a fool according to his folly, a stimulating response to this objection might be to ask, “What other people wouldn’t like hearing that this idea was floated and immediately shot down with no discussion?” A church’s vocal minority tends to squash ministry initiatives that would excite the majority of people who don’t complain.

5. “I have an even better idea…” This is two bullets in one: first, it shoots down your idea without giving any reasons for its insufficiency; second, it assumes the new idea offered is better without giving any reasons for its improvement. Make sure you ask the person with “the better idea” to provide those reasons.

6. Let’s wait for more info. This is the most dangerous bullet of all, because it sounds positive. “Hey, that’s a good idea. Why don’t you do a little research on that, and we’ll circle back in a month.” When you find that your idea isn’t on the agenda a month later, you know that you’ve been sniped (for more on that, see Seth Godin’s post about waiting for all the facts).

But still…you’re idea might be lame

The goal of this post is not to show you how to gain momentum behind all your hair-brained schemes to make disciples and spread God’s kingdom. You, like everyone else, will come up with really bad ideas on how to move the ministries of your church forward. Good meetings burn through bad ideas faster than a newborn does diapers.

But when your good idea for building up the church and reaching the lost finally emerges, it should stand or fall on the merits of the idea, not on how tidily it fits “in the box” of how your church does ministry.

(Image credit)


  1. Hey Eric,
    How does risk evaluation fit into a decision making scheme? What’s the difference between a sniper and someone who’s trying to point out objections in order to make the idea even stronger?
    Is it just the timing of the input?

    • Eric McKiddie says:

      It’s a good question, Loren. I think the answer is more subjective. You have to get a feel from the person’s tone and body language as to whether they are raising sincere concerns or if they are just trying to shoot the idea down.

      Objectively speaking, the thing about the 6 issues I raise above is that they each have a logical fallacy underlying them. They don’t represent sound, valid thinking, but are operating from some standpoint of fear, which inevitably leads to irrational behavior.

      Any good idea that is risky will have real concerns, but those are typically raised by people who want to overcome them to make the idea work. The good-idea-sniper is just thinking of excuses not to move forward.


  1. […] on Pastoralized there is a list of types of objections the “Good-Idea Sniper” might raise to your new […]