Ten Things Church Members Desire in a Pastor


Many of my articles come from the perspective of pastors. That will not change in the future. I am an advocate of pastors and I desire God’s best for them. I have no plans to change my advocacy role.

As a change of pace, however, I recently asked a few hundred laypersons to write down what they desired of a pastor. Their responses were open-ended, and there was no limitation on the number of items they could list. Though my approach was not scientific, these laypersons did represent over sixty churches.

Here are their top ten responses in order of frequency. Since many of them gave one or more sentences as a response, I can provide a representative comment by each of the responses.

  1. Love of congregation. “If we know that our pastor loves us, everything else falls in place. If he doesn’t, nothing else matters.”
  2. Effective preaching. “I don’t have any expectation that my preacher be one of the best in the world, I just want to know that he has spent time in the Word each week to teach us effectively and consistently.”
  3. Strong character. “No pastor is perfect, but I do want a pastor whose character is above reproach on moral, family, and financial issues.”
  4. Good work ethic. “I don’t want either a workaholic pastor or a lazy pastor.  Unfortunately, our last two pastors have been obviously lazy.”
  5. Casts a vision. “Our church has so much possibility; I want to hear what we will do to make a difference in our community and the world.”
  6. Demonstrates healthy leadership. “Most of the pastors in my church have demonstrated a good balance; they have been strong leaders but not dictators.”
  7. Joyous. “Our current pastor is a man of joy. His joy and enthusiasm are contagious. I love him for that!”
  8. Does not yield to critics. “I know that every pastor serving today has his critics. And I know it’s tough to deal with them. I just want these pastors to know that we supporters are in the majority. Please don’t let the minority critics dictate how you lead and serve.”
  9. Transparent. “Every pastor that I have had has been open and transparent about the church and the direction we are headed. It sure has made our church healthier.”
  10. Models evangelism. “Our pastor is passionate about sharing the gospel. His heart and attitude are contagious.”

What do you think about this list? What would you add from the perspective of either a pastor or a layperson?

Posted on January 14, 2013

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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  • Oacar Ramos says on

    Good job! Can I copy your article giving you all the credit?

  • Donald Chirambo says on

    Great article.

  • Rev. John Woi says on

    The ten points are great. I wish all pastors can see this.

  • Howard Meyer says on

    In skimming all the responses, I saw “clear evidence of obeying the Great Commandment” alluded to only once. There were many refs to the #1 response (Jesus’ corollary to the Great Commandment) and some to #10 (I think) — evangelism, but few refs to being a disciplemaker. This is far more than “general shepherding.” Jesus preached to many (the crowd) and taught far fewer (the connected), but he only discipled only 12, and of those He focused on 3, Peter, james, and John. Far too many pastors focus solely on shepherding the crowd and the connected. Very, very few have their Peters, James, and Johns–individuals they are pouring their lives into as the next generation od disciplemakers IAW 2 Timothy 2:2. I personally feel that these “many”, while doing mant wonderful and worthwhile things, are missing the blessing Jesus experienced (as did Paul and Barnabas) and that He wants all true disciples to experience — to be effective disciplemakers. This needs to be done with “under-staff” first so they can do this with the motivated “connected.” To not do this may rightly be viewed as disobedience of the Great Commission: “…go make DISCIPLES…”

  • When is “transparency” over the top? Define it a little more, please. Thanks,.

  • As the churchleader should the Head Pastor be in church before members and church workers Each Sunday or program?what do you think?

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