What Do Pastors Like Most about Their Ministries?

The results are in!

As of this writing, 1,178 pastors responded to my social media poll asking what pastors liked most about their ministries. To be clear, I asked for their favorite aspect of ministry only. If I had asked for a ranking of the ministries, the results would have been more detailed. But, frankly, my team did not have the bandwidth to tabulate nearly 10,000 iterations in three days. So, we went with the favorite ministry only.

We had to discard 17 of the responses since they gave us more than one response. Our pleas to provide only one response were not heeded by this group.

Here are the responses in order of magnitude:

  1. Preaching, 40%. No surprises here. Perhaps the only surprise is that it did not represent a majority.
  2. Discipleship/Mentoring, 30%. Though my observations are anecdotal, there seems to be increased interest in this area by the Millennial pastors.
  3. Evangelism/Outreach, 9%. Note the big drop after the first two responses.
  4. Leadership/Vision, 7%. We did a similar poll with the Church Answers’ community. There was a major difference with their responses, albeit in a smaller sample. Of the Church Answers’ pastors, 37% ranked Leadership/Vision first. I am trying to grasp the significance of this disparity.
  5. Pastoral Care, 5%. Again, all of the responses are in the single digits after the first two.
  6. Administration, 2%. No big surprises here. I interact with a lot of pastors, and I rarely hear a great love for this aspect of ministry.
  7. Community involvement, 2%. In hindsight, I can see how this category possibly had too much overlap with others.
  8. Counseling, 1%. I am fascinated by this very small response. It does align with what I am hearing from pastors anecdotally. Many pastors do not feel equipped or enthused about counseling. And many are concerned about legal implications.
  9. Others (respondents were asked to specify), 4%. There were a wide variety of responses here. No single response accounted for 1% of the total.

Though we have stopped tabulating, I would love to hear your comments about the responses to this poll. We have so many informed readers at ThomRainer.com. I always learn a lot from you.

Posted on October 15, 2018

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Patricia Martin says on

    What was the aim for the poll? I know it’s fun to answer questions about what we like but I hope that wasn’t the only purpose. I do think the answers might be labeled “How I spend the most time,” or “what I think I’m best at,” or even ” what my church expects of me.” I think there would be lots of correlation in those areas. I’m a senior woman, Rhema grad, and long-term provider of “helps” ministry in a few different churches. It’s difficult to change the culture of a church which does not go outside of its borders very often.

  • Thom,
    Thanks for all of your helpful and thought-provoking info. How do you consider discipleship, pastoral care, and counseling different categories?


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