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What Do Pastors Like Most About Their Ministries?

Thom Rainer headshot

The results are in!

As of this writing, 1,178 pastors responded to my social media poll asking what pastors liked most about their ministries. To be clear, I asked for their favorite aspect of ministry only. If I had asked for a ranking of the ministries, the results would have been more detailed. But, frankly, my team did not have the bandwidth to tabulate nearly 10,000 iterations in three days. So, we went with the favorite ministry only.

We had to discard 17 of the responses since they gave us more than one response. Our pleas to provide only one response were not heeded by this group.

Here are the responses in order of magnitude:

  1. Preaching, 40%. No surprises here. Perhaps the only surprise is that it did not represent a majority.
  2. Discipleship/Mentoring, 30%. Though my observations are anecdotal, there seems to be increased interest in this area by the Millennial pastors.
  3. Evangelism/Outreach, 9%. Note the big drop after the first two responses.
  4. Leadership/Vision, 7%. We did a similar poll with the Church Answers' community. There was a major difference with their responses, albeit in a smaller sample. Of the Church Answers' pastors, 37% ranked Leadership/Vision first. I am trying to grasp the significance of this disparity.
  5. Pastoral Care, 5%. Again, all of the responses are in the single digits after the first two.
  6. Administration, 2%. No big surprises here. I interact with a lot of pastors, and I rarely hear a great love for this aspect of ministry.
  7. Community involvement, 2%. In hindsight, I can see how this category possibly had too much overlap with others.
  8. Counseling, 1%. I am fascinated by this very small response. It does align with what I am hearing from pastors anecdotally. Many pastors do not feel equipped or enthused about counseling. And many are concerned about legal implications.
  9. Others (respondents were asked to specify), 4%. There were a wide variety of responses here. No single response accounted for 1% of the total.

Though we have stopped tabulating, I would love to hear your comments about the responses to this poll. We have so many informed readers at I always learn a lot from you.

Originally posted at

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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