Five skills a mega-church pastor must have

Someone once said a mega-church pastor must be willing to live on $300,000 a year, be considered a celebrity in the community, and put up with an all-paid country club membership.

I’ll pass, thank you.

The skills a mega-church pastor actually does need will depend on the congregation, I expect, but would include:

  1. Strong preaching strength. This will be the pastor’s sole contact with most of his people. So, he’d better get this right.
  2. Administrative ability. In most cases, there will be an executive leadership team represented by four or five heads of ministerial teams. They meet with the pastor once a week to set directions for the church and make important decisions, then each one gathers his own team to plan their work.

3. The ability to appreciate and find and support a team with great skills you yourself do not have.  A big church will have a process for finding and hiring staffers, but the pastor will necessarily be the point man.  He had better be willing to surround himself with capable people, each of whom will build his/her own team. If he is insecure and wants only lackeys (i.e., yes men and yes women), this will not work.

4. The ability to cast a vision for a large congregation, in such a way as to inspire all kinds of people. This cannot be overstated.

5. Humility. The common touch. There will be constant tension in this area for several reasons:   a) Megachurch pastors tend to have a layer of insulation between themselves and the masses.  b) In many cases, they hobnob with high achievers (i.e., big-shots) which  tends to skew their vision of the rest of the world.  c) They receive acclaim from many directions, causing some megachurch pastors to feel they are something special.  They must constantly fight this.

Many years ago, I left a comfortable medium-sized church in a county-seat town to become pastor of a church twice that size in a city of a million people.  One of my staffers in the smaller church was brother to a megachurch pastor in Texas.  He said to his celebrated brother, “Joe is not cut out to be pastor of a megachurch.  He’s a different animal.”  He told me this, but not what he meant.

I think I know.

I was a hands-on pastor.  It was not my nature to have layers of staffers between me and the congregation. Each weekday morning in that county seat town, I made the rounds of both hospitals.  I could have delegated it–and in fact had tried to early on in my ministry there, but when the people started complaining that “I was in the hospital and the pastor didn’t come to see me,” I decided to put a stop to that business right there.  I informed the staff that  I would hereafter handle all the hospital visitation except on weekends.  Small town, only two hospitals, and I was in the church office by 9 or 9:30 most weekdays.  It was simple, I loved the contact with the people, and I could get on with my day knowing no one was complaining about being neglected.

But that would not be happening in a city of a million people.

My three years in that church were unhappy for me and evidently for the people.  it was not a good experience.

God bless all pastors of megachurches who do it right.  It’s not easy and requires skills I neither have nor want.

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