Four Marks of a Good Pastor

At Theolog, Bob Cornwall asks what makes a good pastor, in particular whether seminary training is essential

Jesus was relatively uneducated, as were most of his disciples and many of the great saints of history. In certain pockets of the church, a growing number of voices suggest that a seminary education is not only unnecessary but even detrimental to effective ministry. Just to make sure we get the message, a shelf-load of books detail all the important things that a minister won’t learn in seminary.

What they neglect to mention is that courses in Bible, theology and church history (my specialty) are very important, if not essential, to effective ministry. It’s upon these courses that we build our understanding of the practical sides of ministry.

Pastors should study the Bible, theology and church history, but whether a seminary course best does this is an open issue.  I can’t answer that question anymore.  (My ambivalence about seminary probably arises here.  My recent studies in preaching at Christian Theological Seminary were invaluable.)

Beyond this, I see four things that make a good pastor:

+  a connection to Christ sustained by prayer

credibility, honesty and basic trustworthiness

+  a capacity for affirming relationships

competence in preaching and worship

I left out calling because any vocation can be a calling, and all believers can serve as priests to one another.

So these four marks are essential — the rest will work itself out.

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3 Responses to Four Marks of a Good Pastor

  1. The Pastor had said that God does not let us to talk to anyone who drinks wine, but this is a rather distorted, extreme interpretation of the Bible. The Bible clearly says WE ARE NOT TO FELLOWSHIP WITH A CHRISTIAN PERSON WHO GETS DRUNK.. now that is really different from not talking to any of the people who drink wine.. and why is this pastor so ready not to talk with others now too? so ready to smite them, to kick them out of church? If you have love for someone you are willing to talk with them, but if you do not have love for them, especially if, when you know they do not support you, do not agree with your presentation, do not agree with your point of view, you as a pastor too no can personally can instead refuse to love them, you refuse to talk to them, you find any excuse to reject, ostracize, divorce them basically to deny, to cover up the unacceptable reality that you yourself the pastor actually do not have any love for them.

  2. Todd E. says:

    You left out the most important attribute..humility. I have done church for a lot of years and have seen a lot of arrogance and pride in leadership and within certain denominations. Pastors for the most part are insecure beings who can be guilty of overcompensation and ignoring the counsel of those around them. I believe in a plurality of leadership modeled in the Bible rather than what we do in American culture, elevate pastors onto a pedestal, ultimately contributing to their pride. I’ll take a humble, non-Greek quoting. barely got through school but filled with the Holy Spirit, pastor anyday over some intellectually pride-filled thespian. I see too many on TV who think they have a mandate to be a rock star instead of modeling servanthood. Jesus came to serve, not be served. Let’s break down the denominational walls, put our egos on a shelf and start doing the stuff Jesus did. It would change the world.

  3. Chris says:

    Yes, humility is a critical thing. It is integral to credibility (#2) and to a capacity for affirming relationships (#3). Perhaps we could give it its own category and add a fifth C… contrition. I’ve seen humble capable pastors, and I’ve seen others who are not. It depends on the person. Pastors are human, sinful, and forgiven by God.

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