Seven Traits of the Successful Pastor of 2027

The conversations can be discouraging these days. Declining attendance. Conversions down. The great resignation. Closing churches.

Indeed, I have been one of the negative voices speaking about these topics. While my motivation has been to warn rather than discourage, I know the regular conversation of negativity can be disheartening.

Let’s flip the switch. Let’s take a trip five years into the future and look at what successful pastors did over those years. By “successful,” I mean pastors who led churches faithfully, reached their communities, and consistently made disciples. I am not speaking of numerical growth, though numerical growth would often accompany churches led by these pastors.

This exercise is not one of prophetic utterances. Instead, it’s a combination of biblical faithfulness, common sense, and how the pastors have responded during and since the pandemic. We’ve learned a lot from these leaders, and I think we will continue to learn from them as they manifest these seven traits.

  1. They did not forsake or forget the importance of prayer. These pastors are leaders of prayer. They pray personally. They lead their churches to embrace the priority and importance of prayer. Acts 6:4 is a true reflection of their leadership approach and priority.
  1. They brought back the priority of evangelism. The last words of Jesus on earth were a command to be witnesses (Acts 1:8). These pastors did not go the path of many church leaders, forsaking and forgetting evangelism. It is sadly amazing how many Christians and churches don’t think it’s important to share the good news of Christ.
  1. They dealt with toxicity promptly. I have never known a pastor who confronted toxic members in the church who thinks it was done too quickly. The typical response is, “I should have done this a long time ago.”
  1. They had grit. Serving as a pastor is tough work. One pastor with long tenure told me, “I get up in the morning and do my calling as a pastor. Then I go to bed, wake up the next day, and do it again.” This pastor is persistent. This pastor has tenacity. This pastor has grit. 
  1. They loved their community more deeply and tried to serve and reach the residents more urgently. I absolutely love how more pastors realize that they don’t just pastor a church; they pastor a community. The pastors who succeed five years from now will have deeply connected to the communities in which their churches are located.
  1. They rediscovered joy. Ministry can seem like it’s one critic and naysayer after another. Successful pastors five years from now will still see the joy of their calling every day. They might even discover a bit more levity.
  1. They took faith risks. These pastors knew they could not plan everything. They understood they had to expect the unexpected. And they knew they had to lead their churches into new and exciting endeavors and areas.

Let’s see who is still around and thriving in pastoral ministry in 2027. I am willing to say with some confidence that it will be pastors who had these seven traits.

What do you think?

Posted on May 2, 2022

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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  • Edison Bynoe says on

    Thanks Thom for posting this. Along with prayer, I would also include the faithful teaching and proclamation of Scripture. Unfortunately, some preaching today is watered down and superficial and does not ground believers in biblical truth. The early Christians were devoted to prayer and the teaching of the apostles. I know that’s a big debate on what constitutes good preaching, but I believe it starts with solid exegesis and relevant application.

  • I agree with your assessment of what a successful ministry will look like in the future.
    This gave points of focus to present to staff and the congregation.
    Thank you
    Russell Evenson
    World Outreach Worship Center
    Newport News, VA

    • Thank you Thom for your great insight and encouragement to Pastors. Yes , you are absolutely on point. These are key fundamental values needed for a Pastor in this day and age. I am really encouraged by your blogs as a young Pastor presented with new challenges every day. Keep up the good work.

      God bless your ministry.

      Pastor Gabriel Chetty
      Lords House Ministries
      South Africa

  • Rev. Persida Rivera-Mendez says on

    Thom S. Rainer, I absolutely agree! Those traits are needed for ministry going forward.

  • Great observations and encouragement to stay the course

  • Reginald Clifford Gabel says on

    It is easy to point fingers at church saying they are doing it wrong, or say the ‘church building’ will not be here because it is not the church; though I believe it is one of our greatest tools. Since covid has eased, we have had many in our small very rural community ask are we going to start back our community activities. (AKA – our outreach tools to bring people into the fellowship of believers). I do believer we have to find ways to reach ALL ages and not just one age…. I see some think that a revival will save America or the World, but if we are in the final season, things will get worse, my biggest concern, are we preparing for tougher times, and we preparing for the coming storm. The signs are there. What a great opportunities we will have to share the HOPE we have…. I pray we live it

  • kehinde mafolasire says on

    May you be blessed. Sir, being a Pastor is saddled with both physical and spiritual responsibities to re-awakenening the Church. Over the years, i realized that evangelism, follow-up, good morals and involvement in community projects always make a Pastor/ Church to be a succesful one and also to expand the kingdom of God. More grace sir.

  • Jonathan Bernardo says on

    Being a pastor for many years now, I would also like to add the importance of self-care and looking after our family – wives and kids. When a pastor looks after his family well, his wife and kids have the confidence and courage to get behind him – to motivate him as they too become a strong participant and contributor in the ministry. Cannot stress that enough!

  • I think a successful pastor also has the foresight of modeling church not as “the building” but the as the people connecting to the wider community. The brick and mortar is becoming tablets and screens of devices, not just the temple.

  • I think a successful pastor also has the foresight of modeling church not as “the building” but the as the people connecting to the wider community. The brick and mortar is becoming tablets and screens of devices, not just the temple.