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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  • darrellfincher says on

    My pastor plays favorites–period—I surrendered the call under him–on October 19th 2009 I quit running and turned it all over to God–now since that time 3 more preachers have came along–1 is now the assistant–and 1 just surrendered to preach–Pastor said he was going to be fair when he appointed the assistant pastor–and he knew there were 3 more preachers–BUT that hasn’t happened–he uses his assistant as he should and he uses the youngest–he hasn’t allowed myself or the other preacher so much as a prayer from the pulpit in the last 9 months–I feel useless and once more like a mushroom[kept in the dark]. I told my wife I was going to talk to the pastor–she said NO! hes too old and you might regret loosing control and saying something you will regret later–at this point I have quit caring and trying to live the Life God called me too–she will not go with me to another church–SO he I am–putting up with the bull!

  • I am quoting Dr Jeff Noblit pastor in Mussel Shoals, AL . The goals for his church are as follows:
    Glory of God focused
    Bible saturated
    Making and equipping disciples
    Mission minded
    I heard these goals in a sermon by Dr Noblit, I believe it was , ” The Bible Driven Church.”
    These goals were set AFTER 100 hrs of prayer and seeking God’s will.
    And this goal would apply to the pastor and members. And if the pastor and members are allowing God to work in their lives showing the fruit of the Spirit ( Gal 6: 22, 23) to each other and the world ; then I believe we would see a difference in our churches and nation.

  • Great list as well as discipling, which in my mind is preaching and teaching, team builder, but others could do this.
    It is refreshing and enough for a pastor.
    Thank you.
    I’ve saved this page as I am preparing to pastor as God leads.

  • That he should be God Fearing and not tell lies

  • As one who has been involved in pastoral ministry for many years I have noticed two areas that many pastors need to do a better job with. First, they should never be busy for the sake of busy. There is legitimate busy and there is the appearance of busy. Second, the pastor should check his email messages daily and make replies within a reasonable amount of time. Why do pastors have email accounts if they never use them? No one is that busy; that is just lazy. If a member of the community or a church member takes the time to send a heart-felt message, whether long or short, they are due proper consideration and should be responded to at the pastor’s earliest possible convenience. Some preachers are just not good with time management. I surely was not for a long time.

  • Pastor Rackham says on

    Impartiality. It can be easy for a pastor (as well as anyone, for that matter) to gravitate towards personalities and away from others, on a personal and pastoral level. I have found it paramountly important to remain as impartial as possible, lest we become ineffective at reaching the lost. I think James 3:17 sums up a good part of it.

  • I am humble to thank God for this site, I am from Kenya am so blessed with this list

  • Anonymous says on

    My son has been in the hospital for 5 weeks now and although our pastor is aware ,he has never offered to pray .
    I don’t feel comfortable with that .
    Shouldn’t pastors be concerned with the flock and their families?

  • I want a Preacher who finally gets it – that Jesus actually finished His work on the cross – that we owe God nothing – that sin is no longer the issue because Jesus took it away…nailing it to the cross – that God forgave all sin once for all by the shedding of His Blood – that God forgives sin by Christ’s Blood whereas man forgives his fellow man by a negotiated apology, and to mix the two is dangerous. A Preacher who presents the “Good News” as truly “Good News” rather than as some sort of “lease agreement. What lease agreement? You graduate from high school, Dad hands you the keys to a new car. As you run across the front lawn to take it for a spin, Dad calls out while he holds up an envelope, “Oh – there’s one more thing!” You stop and turn. “What’s that?” Dad hands you a thick contract. “It’s your lease agreement for the car. The car is yours as long as you pay the monthly lease, keep it insured, and stay out of trouble with the police.”

    That is not a gift! That is not good news! That is a terrible trick to play on a son!

    “Religion” and bad Preachers tell their Pew-Sitters that Jesus died for their sins, but then they burden those Pew-Sitters with so much bondage (sin-management, confession for forgiveness, forgive others to be forgiven, asking/begging for for forgiveness, etc.) that Jesus is pushed beyond reach and the “Good News” is turned into the “Terrible News.”

    When Jesus died and shed His Blood for our sin, God tore the Temple veil in half from top to bottom. Religion’s Pharisees are sewing that veil back together as fast as they can.

    Write me if any of this touches a nerve. Roger [email protected]

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