Pastors: Can’t Live With ‘Em, Can’t Live Without ‘Em

Pastors: Can’t Live With ‘Em, Can’t Live Without ‘Em

November 26, 2018 by

So you’ve chosen to work in church communication. Congratulations! However, you’ve probably quickly discovered that it’s a crazy ministry world where church, creativity, and communication sadly don’t co-habitate well. The ministry world is not what most perceive it to be.

Expectations vs. Reality

In more than two decades of working with church communicators, I hear the job expectations: caring for others, daily worship time, creative challenges, peaceful and unified ministry environment. Ultimately what your congregation would think happens during the week in your job. You know; loving on people during weekend services and a lot of encouragement, team-building work, and praying during the week.

But that’s not the reality we hear [loudly] from many church communicators: complaints about the chaos, the leadership misunderstandings and expectations, as well as an unhealthy resistance to change. Ah, reality.

It’s crazy, yet we actually decide to stay in this field with the hopes of changing it, impacting our communities, and achieving creativity within the ministry chaos. We want to make a difference and, as problem solvers, we thrive on the chaos.

Working With Pastors

The one topic that rarely comes up in the initial ministry job pursuit? You’ll be working with pastors. And having served thousands of pastors (I’m currently working with 3,000), I realize there’s some stereotypical archetypes that impact us in our church comm world.

Allow me to taking a daring stab at a few and give you my observation of what we can do to counteract the personality description. But I have a couple of caveats: not every pastor fits each of these observations, plus we must understand that God has placed pastors in leadership; therefore, we must submit to their authority—and when they won’t budge—we humbly comply.

Caution: If you’re in a truly unhealthy role, ministry, or church and you’ve exhausted every possible attempt at lovingly changing the environment, it may be time to move to another position. If it’s serious abuse, the time is now.

6 Tips for 6 Pastoral Archetypes:

  1. They are ultimately concerned about their ministry. Ensure you talk in terms of helping them. Discover how to give them a voice and how to make them look good. Use that voice to support the entire church ministry but emphasize the influence of pastoral leadership when talking to them.
  2. They live in the future; not the present. So close the details gap between now and then. Many pastors don’t juggle details well—pick up the slack and do the details well. One of the greatest strengths of good pastors is their ability to envision the future. Allow your talents to deliver the future to them.
  3. They like to lead; even without followers. Let them lead you; but subtly lead them in your expertise. I heard recently that “people persons” should check with people before using that description. Very wise. Try to seek the opinion of your leadership and submit to their guidance all while using your skills to enhance or improve along the way. Your good work will gain followers for them, the overall ministry, and (we pray) for Jesus.
  4. They feel they can do your job better. I’m not sure why communication from the outside looks so easy, yet from the inside, has many complexities. Become an expert in your preparation; anticipate leadership wishes and deliver. Every time. If your pastors are quick to guide, try to understand their “why” and the outcomes they’re seeking.
  5. They act confident but often are insecure. As creatives we understand this. Rather than judge, empathize and encourage. Do to them like you’d have done to you. It’s tiring — and perhaps why few do it well. Let your leadership know they’re doing a good job.
  6. They don’t encourage or compliment well. Let’s model this in our ministry jobs. And pray for those who don’t motivate you. Pray; and curse not. Again, they need it as much as you.

To have a successful, sustainable, ministry role that will feed your soul and impact many for Christ, you need to ultimately have a healthy team-based relationship with your pastor(s). Befriend them, love them, demonstrate that you value ministry as much as them, and let them lead you. Be a reliable support person who understands them. So seek to understand. And when they praise you or positively notice something you’ve done? Know that it’s in the area that matters to them most.


For help dealing with pastors, check out You’ve Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators by Kelley Hartnett. She gets the struggle and even has a chapter called “My Boss is Wrong.”

Post By:

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is an author, speaker, and strategic communication catalyst with the Florida Baptist Convention. He’s also the author of Be Known For Something. Mark is also the executive director of our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication.
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