Top 10 Pastor’s Pain Points

Pastoring a church is a wholly unique endeavor. The demands are physical, emotional and spiritual – and seemingly never cease. So what are the consistent issues and opportunities that face pastors day in and day out?

I have heard a variation on the top 10 consistent pain points of pastors for years, often right from pastors themselves. These are pastors who do their best to work smarter, hire better, lead diligently and example practically. Yet the same issues for pastors everywhere seem to pop up time and again.

I’ve wondered which of these pain points can be addressed through better tools and more accurate data. For example, if a pastor had an easy way to see a correlation between a small but consistent dip in volunteerism and a similar drop in giving, would that information help identify the root cause and, potentially, address the issue before the trend became worse?  Or what if a pastor had a simple way to understand the level of attendance at various events so they could better understand what’s working and what’s not?

Without timely and reliable information, a pastor is often left with the anecdotal hall conversations with staff to try and discern what’s going on church-wide. While meaningful information can help with better decision-making, the reality is that the kind of information each pastor needs is unique to their church and not always visible through the church database or weekend attendance reports.

Still, I wonder what kind of tools can help pastors tackle their church’s issues and needs as it relates to their personal pain points. Here are the top 10 consisten pain points from pastors (in no particular order):

1) Time. They simply don’t have enough time to get everything done. Family/work balance fits into this one, as does time with God and message preparation.

2) Money. Regardless of the economy, consistent finances or enough finances are a top issue.

3) Volunteers. Often, the need is simply for more volunteers. For others, they need more volunteer leaders, not just doers.

4) Staffing. Getting the right people on the right seats of the bus (or the wrong ones off of the bus) is an on-going challenge.

5) No systems/Poor systems/Inadequate systems. Efficiency and effectiveness are tied together through quality systems and processes.

6) Discouragement. For a variety of reasons, they often feel alone, unequipped in some areas or lacking trusted friends and advisors.

7) Administration. Too many meetings, too many “little” tasks, too much detail management. (see #5 above)

8) Vision drift. Pastors can spend a lot of effort keeping their people aligned with the core mission and vision of the church. Less is more.

9) Staff management. Though this ties into staffing (hiring), learning to manage a wide range of people-types can be very challenging.

10) Decline/Plateau/Growth. No matter how growth is (or isn’t happening), there are challenges with each one.


Perhaps tackling the top 10 pastor’s pain points is too much to chew in one bite. Let’s halve the list and see what you, pastors, say are consistently your top 5 pain points. Maybe it’s on that list above; maybe it’s something altogether different. Click here to take an anonymous, 1-question survey about your top 5 pain points. Once we have enough responses, we’ll post a follow-up article with the results and what other pastors are doing to deal with those issues.




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