Ten Things Church Members Desire in a Pastor

January 14, 2013

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?

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180 Comments

  • Joy Devore says on

    I just want a pastor. I haven’t found one yet, though I’ve been involved in several churches since I was 14. A pastor is someone who knows you by name and by heart, rather than a distant spectacle. It’s hard not to become a spectator when that is what the pastor is. I don’t want somebody standing up there on a stage every week talking about whatever. I want to know the pastor and his family and vice versa. We should be at each other’s houses all the time building relationships and strengthening each other’s faith in Jesus. This won’t work with a thousand people, you think? Correctomundo! Those aren’t pastors. A real pastor could probably handle between 10-15 people. How on earth do all these guys study the Bible and come to the conclusion that we are supposed to gather by the hundreds under the roof of a building with staff that costs at least 70% of the church budget? How! I don’t understand it. Then they wonder why they are depressed and their marriages are falling apart and their children are forsaking God. Pastors, you weren’t called to be a god.

  • Great list. But is it accurate. These all seem like the Jesus answers. You know the ones I mean, the acceptable good nice answers that make everyone feel good. As a pastor I have experienced these, but I have also experienced in every situation a few not so feel good expectations. I would love to walk into a church that said these and then the rest. We expect your family to be at every event and service even if ours aren’t, we expect you to be here 24 7 even when on vacation for any issue we may have, we expect you to do everything the way it was always done even the things that didn’t work and get the church back to the way it was x number of years ago. This is not said out of anything but love for the people I pastor. I love what I do, love that I’m called and wouldn’t change it for the world. I know that these are the expectations, but that knowledge has come from failing in one of these areas, as opposed to being told.

  • Ralph Juthman says on

    How about a man of prayer.

  • Believe in the priesthood of the believer, that all believers have the anointing. see some thoughts here on My Dream Church https://sites.google.com/site/mydreamchurch/

  • charlotte parker says on

    Why would the pastor (singlehandedly) change the name of the church in a denomination without the members or any of the boards or ministries agreeing to it. He had the church administrator read a letter after morning service and said if anyone had a question that his phone number was on the Sunday morning bulletin. Please response Help me understand this.

  • Pete Kiefhaber says on

    As a bi vocational pastor it is easy to get to busy. One thing that has greatly helped me is recognizing the need to be a servant to the people in the realm of being a shepherd. Leading not pushing, loving with mercy and truth. Working for the good of the people in discipling them and realizing that followers don’t always understand why we are headed in the direction we are.

  • As a matter truth, we pastors must noticed that we possessed ten fingers. And these fingers are very useful & well demanding, likewise the ten points must be highly considerable & actively observed inorder to have a successful ministry:D

  • I am a pastor and I agree with everything except, not yielding to critics. I do not mean we need to bow down to everything people say especially when people who are completely unreasonable. But I do believe we need to be open to hear if we have missed the mark. I once had a pastor that was extremely harsh to his congregation members, in fact it was abusive, and when I, as his associate pastor went to speak to him about it he was not at all open to hearing what I said. He actually got worse. I ended up having to leave and the church quickly collapsed not long after. They need to be approachable not closed off. If the Pastor has heard from God then they must stand firm. Openness is essential for a health pastor.

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