I’ve been working with churches and pastors now for more than two decades. During that time I’ve come to know a lot of churches and a lot of pastors. Recently, though, I’ve come to the conclusion that when a church is “looking” to call a pastor, or if a judicatory is looking for a staff pastor for a church leadership position, that in reality there are only five “types” of pastors out there. Now, let me offer a disclaimer before I go any further. These five types or paradigmatic pastors don’t cover varying theologies, beliefs, doctrines, or even tribal affinity. I’m talking about five kinds of “Christian” leaders based on “how” they lead. This is a behavioral/personality typology that should be helpful in choosing a pastor for your church. The five archetypes of pastors are:
These five types will be fully developed in an upcoming article in Net Results magazine, but for now, here’s a brief description of each.
The Catalytic Pastor: The catalytic pastor is wired to stir things up. They’re gifted in the prophetic and tend to be charismatic leaders. These pastors have lots of energy and are focused on the mission of the church … that is, reaching the community for Jesus Christ. In the “right” church, they’ll grow it without a doubt. In the “wrong” church, they’ll create conflict, they’ll be frustrated, and they’ll either burn out or they’ll move on … assuming they’re not fired first. Catalytic pastors are ideal church planters but often lack the finesse and patience for church transformations (except in those VERY rare churches that are truly willing to do anything to reach the community for Jesus).
The Cultivating Pastor: The cultivating pastor is wired to break up hard ground, plant seeds, nurture the fields, and are both willing and able to bring in a harvest. They’re gifted in big-picture understanding, systems analysis, and systems manipulation (in a good way). Because of their systems understanding and their patience, they are able to cultivate change and transformation over time. However, they’re tenacious and are used to getting their way in the long run … because they know how to deal with obstacles that get in their way. Cultivating pastors are well suited for church transformations in churches that can afford to effect gentle change that takes significant time … as many as seven to ten years.
The Conflict-Quelling Pastor: The Conflict-Quelling pastor is exactly the type that the name implies … they’re the guys and gals who are natural or skilled peacemakers, mediators, and/or conflict managers. These pastors are wired differently than any of the other pastoral types. They’re not catalytic and they’re distinctive from chaplains. Instead, these folks can walk into a congregation and in short order assess the situation and instinctively seem to know who the major players are. They are affable and able to build bridges. They tend to be quiet and reflective … when they speak, they do so with conviction, wisdom, and certainty. Conflict-Quelling pastors make excellent interim pastors and/or troubled-church pastors.
The Chaplain Pastor: The Chaplain pastor is wired for peace, harmony, and pastoral care. This is the type of pastor that has been produced by seminaries for several decades, though a few … a very few … seminaries are retooling. Chaplain pastors eschew change and value status quo. They don’t want to stir the waters; rather, they want to bring healing to hurting souls. They are excellent listeners and tend to be good networkers within the community, primarily so they can extend their ministry, but also so they can refer those in need to oasis’ of help. Chaplain pastors don’t grow churches. In fact, a Chaplain pastor will hasten a congregation’s demise because they tend to focus on those within the congregation rather than in bringing new converts to Jesus Christ. Churches that have very little hope of transformation and church growth do well with Chaplain pastors who serve as hospice care.
The Catatonic Pastor: This type of pastor is, frankly, either lazy or sick. There are far too many of these pastors. They take refuge in their offices ostensibly to do sermon preparation, create brochures, sum up numbers, and so on, but ultimately they’re spinning their wheels and accomplishing very little. They may or may not do the hospital visitation, but they seldom miss an opportunity to have a meal with one of the inside buddies. Catatonic pastors tend to be well liked by the power holders in the church, because the Catatonic pastor is easily manipulated and seldom, if ever, makes waves … except when they need to accomplish something and fail to meet even the lowest of expectations. Indeed, Catatonic pastors may remain as the senior pastor of a church for many years because they know how to schmooze their way into grace. Churches that hate change often end up with excellent examples of Catatonic pastors. Catatonic pastors may spend a lot of time “at work” but any congregation that sets performance goals for their Catatonic pastor will quickly discover that time in the office does not guarantee results. Of course, Catatonic pastors do not grow churches, are poor chaplains – even poor hospice chaplains, and they pretty much destroy wherever they root … and they’re more like crabgrass or bamboo that, once established, is almost impossible to eradicate.