What makes a great Priest / Pastor /Minister? What makes a great church?

15 11 2007

As I approach ordination I find myself reflecting on what makes a good church leader and what makes a good church?

I would love to read your thoughts on these questions! So please post your thoughts below by clicking on the word ‘comment’.




19 responses

15 11 2007

a deep love for Christ, humility, approachability, trustworthiness, strong sense of family, ‘vision’,

15 11 2007

I think a good priest nowadays has to inspire his/her congregation to be active participants who take responsibility for their own development as well as that of the congregation as a whole. And I’d second Dave’s list, especially the first two. And a sense of humour helps as well!

15 11 2007

I am particulalry fond of our church pastor because he seems to speak directly too me during his sermons. He has an uncanny ability to present his sermons in such a way as to be relevant to each and every member of the congregation on a personal level (at least that’s how I feel). Although there are others present during his sermons – his message usually applies to me or something happening in life and I really feel that God is speaking directly to ‘me’ through him.
I really value that.

15 11 2007

A person who pay’s attention.

15 11 2007
Craige Gravestein

What makes a good church leader? I see a leader as someone who can move their group toward their pre-determined goal. If the group they lead gives them that goal and they achive it, that is successful leadership. I think good leadership is possibly being able to do that in a way that takes as many as possible with you.

What makes a good church? I think that it is too subjective for it is a worshipping community where one feels at home, fed and able to contribute.

16 11 2007
Rosalie (Hild)

Same as my “Theory of Pastoral Care” at Seminary:

Show up.
Be with.

Works in the small rural church, big churchm and, to some extent, in a virtual parish. You do remarkably well with this Mark. The blog is a very new innovation in pastoral work and discussions. I just got iLife 08 for the Mac and should soon connect in an improved way when I master it.

Rosalie (Hild)

16 11 2007
Pam Smith

Many congratulations on reaching this point in your journey – it took me 10 years from when I first felt I might be called to being deaconed. God’s timing can be very slow from our point of view!

I’m not sure actually that we are called to be ‘great’ priests or ‘great’ churches – that may sound controversial but a lot of what I thought I was really good at has counted for nothing and mundane things like being able to keep my temper when people are being awkward and being prepared to fail at new things have been much more to the fore than my obvious strengths. Preaching was what I was good at – I thought – and has been nothing but a horrendous struggle since ordination!

Whatever happens, expect the unexpected, enjoy the journey and may you always know God’s presence with you.

16 11 2007

I recently reflected on Walter Brueggemann’s “19 Theses”. It is a great manifesto on what the Bible is, and its place in the world. It also contains one of the most insightful and challenging descriptions of what it is that a Christian minister is called to do amongst his/her congregation. Brueggemann argues the minister’s job is defined in “descripting, relinquishment and disengagement” – that is, exposing the popular ‘scripts’ of the day, challenging people to relinquish these scripts, assisting them as they disengage from these scripts, and inducting them into the script (Scripture) of the story of God.


17 11 2007

I’m not altogether sure that leadership in the way it’s commonly understood (influencing, moving towards a goal) is a New Testament concept. It’s certainly strong in the OT, but in the NT church the head is Christ and it’s his spirit in each person that influences and moves towards the common goal, which I guess is for God’s empire to come.
So I think a great leader is one who affirms, to individuals and to the whole body, who they are in Christ, and leaves them feeling Christ’s influence rather than his own. And seeking that his own influence and Christ’s would be synonymous.

17 11 2007

From the desert fathers (Poemen 174): A brother asked Abba Poemen, “Some brothers live with me; do you want me to be in charge of them?” The old man said to him, “No, just work first and foremost and if they want to live like you, they will see about it for themselves.” The brother said to him, “But it is they themselves, father, who want me to be in charge of them.” The old man replied, “No, be their example, not their legislator.”

17 11 2007
Monty Merlin

(As for the unsuspecting Reader some words of explanation, i was one of the individuals invited to buildt the cathedral and help shape Epiphanny Island, and i am roman catholic and from Europe, so one may consider me as a newbie to the anglican church, anyway, i started of only to be involved in building, but got intrigued (or impressed, excuse my english) in the development of the Anglicans in SL)

Your question were, what makes a good church leader, well you do, no sophisticated reasoning here, just you do, because your the only one i have seen to stand a virtual world, to get a foot in virtual world and to to use and sustain virtual worship, you are unique in that one, as far as i am concerned. And, yes, u pushed throug some stuff, remember that discussion about the paved yard before the court, oh man, did we oposed, but in fact it didn t mattered, the cathedral works. Second Question was, what makes a good church ? Well the people, i am normaly not touched by individual fates but hearing your calls for prayers, made me wonder, and pray for the poor fates you asked for. And i did was overwhelmed by the first service and i am following your blog and i am gratefull that i was able to help such good things happen.

17 11 2007
Glory Enoch

I think the church today has a lot of “CEO’s” and not enough spiritual leadership. It is an observable trend that the strengths and weaknesses of a given leader will be filtering down into the ranks. A lazy leader will generate a complacent following while a courageous leader will instill a strong will into it’s members.

So the biggest thing to remember is that the church is a SPIRITUAL body – and as such, needs to be covered with copious amounts of prayer so that the leading, preaching, teaching is all divinely inspired and done with, “unction” – that invisible trait that is so unquantifiable but undeniable. For in unction we attain a bit of the prophetic and can meet needs that go beyond our planning and limitations.

18 11 2007
Mark Brown

Absolutely wonderful comments. Amazing stuff! I have also received some 20 or so comments via a number of Facebook discussions, so I look forward to bringing it all together into a post.

Also check out this on leadership lessons learnt from mistakes. lessonhttp://churchrelevance.com/qa-3-leadership-lessons-i-learned-from-mistakes/

19 11 2007
Anne Arundel (Dragonash)Thaddeus

Several of the posts said what I intend to reiterate, but from the direction of the majority of the posts in other directions, I believe that it bears repeating.

God has called you, as you are, to the ministry. Ge (my personal pronoun for God) may not have called you to be a “leader” in any sense that you or anyone else can predict. God will put you and your strengths — *and* your weaknesses–where they will serve their purpose.

So, I repeat (from Rosalie):
Show up.
Be with.
And I add a phrase from the original 12 steps:
Let go, and let God.

Anne Arundel

19 11 2007
Tony Gibbs


I am not sure that I can quote lots of writers on this, but looking at the church in Acts it seems that the church is called to be a community of the people of God meeting together for worship, fellowship and support to be in the world but not of the world.

For leadership in the church, we have Paul’s writing to Timothy in 1 Tim 6:11-12 to “try your best to please God and be like him. Be faithful, loving, dependable, and gentle” (CEV)

along with Peter writing in 1 Peter 5:2-6:

“Just as shepards watch over their sheep, you must watch over everyone God places in your care. Do it willingly in order to please God, and not simply because you think you must. Let it be something you want to do, instead of something you do merely to make money. Don’t be bossy to those people who are in your care, but set an example for them… God opposes proud people but he helps everyone who is humble…” (CEV)

I hope that this is useful.

God bless you in Christ,

20 11 2007

The simple answer to “What makes a good leader?” is “Imitation of Christ”.
Obviously that must be qualified as (at least in most of the Anglican Church) we do not expect our leaders to be celibate. They should be constant in prayer and reading of the scriptures. They should be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in responding to the challenges posed by our increased knowledge of this world/universe and our lives in it.
In his earthly ministry our Lord welcomed all sorts and conditions of mankind into his flock (and into leading roles). Our leaders need to do the same.
They must be sensitive to the varying traditions that have grown up in the church, even though they may feel that theirs is the right one (at least for themselves).
Above all they must love God and love their fellow men, and loving means giving.
But isn’t this true for us all?

20 11 2007
Rev Bosco Peters


In terms of the church – maybe the old “love God, love others, love self” might be a way in?
Love God: IMO worship is primary and central – communal and contemplative;
Love others: charity and loving service by the church community individually and collectively for others – not in order to drag them in, increase our numbers, or help our funds to maintain our building – but just love, unconditional and without hidden agenda
this, hence, applies whether we are large or small in number
Love ourselves – support each other within the Christian community

In terms of the diaconate – leading “world-facing”
Leading that love of others out there “in the world”
& sacrificially
so that within the worship the deacon appropriately proclaims the gospel (in more than one sense), provides leadership for our intercession for the world, and dismisses us from the service to service

In terms of priesthood – leading “church-facing”
gathering us for community worship, being a contemplative guide in our love of God and of each other.

In Christ
& with my prayers and thoughts as you are ordained deacon


20 11 2007

Captivating, sincere, stimulating, learned, interesting, approachable, credible, respectable, and someone who will spend the time listening to his/her church members.

21 11 2007
Alan Gielczyk

The problem with all the “ideas” being floated around here is they are all man-centered, not God-centered. What makes a good pastor is a man who preaches the Law AND Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified for sinners and resurrected assuring us of eternal life. The problem today is most “leaders” do not preach the Law of God. The good news can’t be that good unless the bad news is that bad. Once people are made aware of how utterly wretched they are in God’s sight then the gospel can do its work of bringing them to repentance and salvation in Christ. A church led by a man like this is a great church.

In Christ

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