I was surprised at the stir created by my blogpost earlier this week, “Ten Things Church Members Desire in a Pastor.” When I did the initial survey and wrote an article on it, I viewed it as just a fun exercise that would get minimal attention. I was wrong. The article hit a nerve.
One of the many commenters suggested I conduct a similar exercise and find out what pastors desire in a church member. I took that as a friendly and helpful suggestion. As a result, I interviewed 23 pastors with a simple and open-ended question, “What do you desire in church member?” The pastors could respond with an unlimited number of desires, but most pastors mentioned fewer than four.
Here are their responses in order of frequency. As in my previous article, I note the desire and follow it with a representative quote.
- Vibrant prayer life. “While I do want church members to pray for me specifically, I really want them to pray faithfully in all matters.”
- Spirit of unity. “I want our church members to be uncompromising on cardinal issues, but I also want them to be willing to yield to others on minor issues and issues of preference.”
- Respect of pastor’s family. “It’s okay if my family is not given preferential treatment by the church. We really want it that way. But I don’t want church members to have unreasonable expectations on my wife and kids just because their husband and dad is the pastor.”
- Members who are critical to my face. “Like most people, I don’t like criticism. But I know it goes with the territory. I would just ask that any critics speak to me directly instead of speaking about me behind my back.”
- Encouragers. “I don’t have to be applauded for everything I do, but I sure do appreciate those members who are the encouragers in my life. I don’t know what I would do without them.”
- Faithful attendees. “I’m really not numbers obsessed, but when people faithfully attend worship services and small groups, I know the church is important to their lives.”
- Members who share their faith. “I’ve been in ministry 34 years. The most faithful church members who make a difference in my life and the church are those who are consistent in sharing their faith.”
- Members who lead their families spiritually. “The church can only do so much for families spiritually. But it’s great when both the church and family leaders work together to grow disciples in their own families.”
- Members who confront other members for being negative and critical. “It really is a great feeling to know there are members in the church that have my back. Sometimes criticism of me is justified; but on other occasions the criticism comes from one of a small number of people.”
- Members who read the Bible regularly. “I can’t ever remember a member who reads the Bible daily who became a challenge in the church. It just seems like people in the Word don’t act like people in the world.”
Now we have heard two perspectives: those of church members and those of pastors. What do you think of this “top ten”?
Posted on January 19, 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.
More from Thom