SIDEBAR: What Every Pastor Needs

by L. Alton Garrison

Church health is an important and popular topic. It involves much more than bodies and budgets. Money and attendance are both necessary for a church to exist. However, there are less tangible spiritual components that are just as important, if not more so.

There is more than one “right” church model. Rural churches operate differently from urban churches. Large churches are not necessarily just small churches with greater numbers. Cultures are different. Leaders have different gifts. Change occurs over time and nothing stays the same. But are there common needs that churches have? Is that possible?

In a district-wide survey we did during my tenure as district superintendent of Arkansas, we discovered that regardless of church or leader, there were eight needs common to all churches. It did not seem to matter about the church size, the age of the pastor, or the location of the ministry; these needs were universal among all Arkansas churches:

  1. Lay ministry involvement. How to get people in the pew involved in the ministry of the church was a universal need.
  2. Spiritual formation — discipleship.
  3. Leadership skills.
  4. Communication skills — how to really connect with the audience.
  5. Management and administrative training.
  6. Becoming more missional — how to become more outward focused.
  7. Relationships — if people don’t like you, they won’t follow you.
  8. Family issues — parenting and financial needs.

Addressing these needs systematically and thoroughly through training and mentoring proved to be beneficial to the ministers and helpful for the churches.