Like any career, a career in ministry requires that a minister possess certain skills in order to succeed. Seminary is helpful for developing the skills necessary for becoming a pastor, but there are many ways skills can be developed. Ministers coming to ministry from a different career path may find that skills they used in their old jobs help them when it comes to working in a church or ministry. The Bible instructs us to do everything as unto the Lord. For pastors and ministry leaders, this means being conscious of the skills necessary to do our jobs well, and to work constantly toward improving those skills through practice, study, workshops, and mentorships with older, wiser church and ministry leaders.
So, what are the skills necessary for leading well? Following is a list of 10 skills every pastor or church leader should invest time and energy into cultivating.
- Public Speaking
A pastor should be able to communicate ideas to a large group of people clearly and effectively. A pastor does not have to be a great speaker who makes a career of preaching at conferences and on radio or television, but all pastors should be able to reach the people whom they are called to teach. Pastors and leaders should be able to speak to their people in the people’s own “language” – the particular way in which they communicate based on culture, location, and life experience. The message should not change, but a good public speaker knows how to adapt and speak to different groups of people in a way that is effective for them. Paul speaks to this concept,
“To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.” (1 Corinthians 9:20)
A leader of a ministry should have a working knowledge of different fundraising methods and access to the tools necessary for effective fundraising. Most churches operate on a tight budget, and the ability to raise funds for church expenses or to do work in the community is vital. A pastor does not have to go it alone, and there are often existing committees in churches devoted to budget and fundraising. However, a leader should have some knowledge of what fundraising strategies are best practice in order to guide their church in successful fundraising efforts. Malachi 3:10 reminds us to be responsible with our finances to receive the Lord’s blessing.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
- Knowing Community Resources/When to Refer
One of the most important pastoral skills of all is the ability to acknowledge where your skill set ends and that of another professional should begin. When counseling, a pastor should know what signs to look for that signify a person should be referred to someone within the community who specializes in fields like mental health, addiction treatment, eating disorders, etc. It does no person any favors to continue pastoral counseling alone when medical or mental health intervention is needed. A pastor should be familiar with resources in the community for people in their congregations who may be struggling in different ways and develop good relationships with providers so that they can be in quick contact with someone who can help in case of an emergency.
- Team building
A pastor or leader should be able to effectively organize and lead a team of people to work together. The ability to bring people together in an age of disunity is invaluable, and absolutely critical to the Christian community.
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24
- Crisis intervention
A pastor should know the steps to take in the case of an emergency in order to counsel families and individuals through crises like death, sudden hospitalizations, car accidents, etc. Keep in mind that knowing when to refer and involve other parties applies here as well.
A pastor should possess the personality and skills to communicate in ways that are meaningful and effective. They should have excellent verbal and written skills as well as familiarity and comfort with different modes of communication such as telephone, in person visits, email, newsletters, etc.
- Personal Integrity
A good leader leads by example. A pastor or ministry leader should reflect the message they preach. Leaders should strive for a life that reflects that of Jesus. Of course, we are all human and we all make mistakes, but leaders are called to represent Jesus to their congregations and ministry teams and should take that calling seriously.
“I will be careful to live a blameless life…I will lead a life of integrity in my own home.” Psalm 101:2
Today’s world is centered around technology. Many churches are “going digital” in the sense that services are streamed online, members have an “online tithing” option, and more. Leadership today should be familiar with the types of technology available through which more people may be reached. This helps churches remain relevant and informed.
- Financial Responsibility
A church leader should be a good manager of finances, in both their personal lives and with church accounts. Much trust is placed on a minister for the financial security of the church. The pastor should be able to handle money in a way that glorifies God.
Pastors have a lot on their plate. In order to manage all of the tasks and responsibilities associated with being a pastor, they should have good organizational skills.
The list of skills necessary for being a minister is overwhelming. Remember that there is no perfect minister, and no church should expect perfection. The grace of Jesus will cover the areas in which we are weak. In fact, the beauty we know as ministers is that God can use us despite ourselves. The purpose of this list is simply to provide a list of goals to strive for and characteristics to refine.
Now go, and do likewise.