The Five People A Pastor Needs In Church

With apologies to Mitch Albom, here’s my take on the five people a pastor needs in church.

  1. A friend. Because pastors are human beings, we need a social network of friends.  But some pastors continue to believe that a pastor can’t be friends with people in his or her congregation.  A pastor should not play favorites among church members, but that is far different than valuing the friendship of some members.  Friends are the ones who keep your kids, invite you out to eat, drop by unannounced, and care about what’s happening in your life.  Friends know the real you, and pastors need friends in church who know us in all of our humanity.
  2. A counselor. Pastors need friends, but they also need counselors.  Usually you only need one or two, but you need a wise, thoughtful person in the congregation who will give you an honest assessment of your ideas, vision, and goals.  The Bible itself presents the idea that there is “wisdom in many counselors.”
  3. A pray-er. Not a prayer, but a pray-er — someone who prays for you and the church.  Daily.  Regularly.  Fervently.  Paul encourages young Timothy to offer prayers for leaders, and church leaders need people who pray regularly for them.  The legendary story of Charles Spurgeon’s “power plant” — the prayer room at his church — needs to be realized in our churches today.  Pastors should be at the top of somebody’s prayer list.
  4. A critic. Of course, critics seem to be in abundant supply in many churches.  But pastors do need critics, too.  We need critics to offer the counterpoint to our ideas, vision, and dreams.  While praise is wonderful, we learn from criticism, especially when it is honest, helpful, and loving.
  5. A supporter. In every church I have served, I have enjoyed great support from wonderful people.  Supporters aren’t just fans of the pastor.  Supporters are genuinely enthusiastic about the pastor’s leadership, the direction of the church, and the vision the church shares for ministry.  Supporters provide the labor for our dreams together, enabling the church to move forward.

What do you think about these five people a pastor needs?  Would you add any others?  Have you experienced some or all of these in your own ministry?  I’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences.

9 thoughts on “The Five People A Pastor Needs In Church”

  1. Really helpful. Thank you. It was encouraging to see people in ny congregation who are already fitting these roles. Reminded me of how blessed I am. Was also helpful to know who else I need to find.

    One thing I’d change is, we need a LOVING critic.

    Thanks again.

  2. Regarding #3, we have challenged our men to become part of the Nickel Defense. Sort of a play on words with a football defensive strategy, but we want men praying for our pastor. Men are challenged to carry a nickel in their pocket all week as a reminder to pray for the pastor at least five times that week (for ministry, family, marriage, inspiration, leadership, vision, etc.). Then on Sunday, give the nickel to the pastor before the service. We want our pastor preaching with a pocket full of nickels, which represents all the prayer that went up on his behalf.

  3. Ben, thanks for your comment. I’ve subscribed to your blog. Sounds like you guys are doing interesting stuff in London.

    Scott, what a great idea! Have you posted this on your blog? I’d like to link to it. Hope you guys are well.

  4. I find this very beneficial but disagree with the “critic” comments. I do not believe in “constuctive criticism.” Criticism is criticism no matter what! Criticism is a judging of something. I believe that a pastor that is sitting under the “under-shepherd” of Jesus has the vision for the work from the “Great Shepherd.” To criticize him is to imply that he is not hearing from Jesus about the ministry. When I say something to the pastor I build up what is positive about him and his work while praying for what I don’t agree with. If he has the ear of the Lord the Lord will minister what is right in the area – if I am wrong then God will show my. God says, “touch not my anointed” – I believe critisism underminds and does not build.

  5. Thanks for these thoughtful suggestions. I think the word that goes with all five roles at their best is “mature.” The best friends, counselors, pray-ers, critics and supportors are grown-up, spiritually and emotionally — as are the best pastors. (Of course pastors can also learn from managing our response to immature critics!)

  6. Praise Jesus . i thank you for your ministry to us.
    i AM A pastor from Uganda Africa married to Liz with 4 children , a founder of BACK TO PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT MISSION ,and i have opened one church call BACK TO THE PENTECOSTAL CHURCH, under a tree with 4 members now we are 100 and many children in the church.
    I enjoyed and loved your web and teachings. My reason to write to you is i feel you to be my friend and a partner i feel you to visit me in Uganda , i felt to visit you but my church is not able to support me but i am thirsty for God. Reach me in Uganda if the holly spirit convicts you as he convicted me to email you.

    Waiting to heart from you. thank you.

  7. i totaly agree the four people we need but not a critic,we instead need a mentor to groom us to be with charactor in ministry.


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