Skill sets of the modern pastor

August 10, 2022

Leading a church has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. Pastors are facing an evolving set of skills that are needed to help them stay connected, be relevant, and make an impact. 

Pastor Josh Sisco shared his experience with the expanding duties of a pastor while launching Everwell Church in Orange County, CA. On top of preaching, establishing leaders, and finding new venues for his growing church, he quickly realized that technology was “going to be huge [for] us being able to build and bridge relationships.” 

But this left Pastor Josh wondering how much time he’d have to invest into learning new technology. “How are we going to connect with these people during the rest of the week?” After all, “I went to school to be a pastor. I did not go to school to be a tech guy.” 

If you’re a pastor, you got into ministry for a reason—to fulfill a calling and a mission—not to become an expert in every new church trend. Tech skills are just one of the changing competencies you’re feeling pressure to learn. 

Let’s take a look at which skills are essential, overlooked, and overrated for fulfilling your duties as a pastor. This will help you focus on what’s important, become more effective, and avoid spending too much time on investing in overrated skills. Let’s get back to the heart of why you’re ministering. 

Essential skills of a pastor

These skills are critical for every pastor to possess. While most of these are taught in seminaries and online courses, they are refined and perfected through practice. 

Biblical studies

Pastors must have a deep understanding of God’s word. Otherwise, they’re vulnerable to following false doctrines or heresies. This requires two main focuses of study: 

  • Exegesis—interpreting the scriptures to draw out what the original authors meant to say.
  • Hermeneutics—the essential rules around interpreting the Bible.


One of the most important skills pastors need is to master homiletics—the art of composing and delivering sermons. A sermon that is well-crafted, scripture-based, and applicable to real life can evoke conviction, elicit faith, and effect change in people’s lives. 

Theology & doctrine

A pastor without a proper understanding of God, the Bible, and how Christians ought to live can cause a lot of damage. This is why church leaders must study and clearly define their theology and doctrine that shape their Christian identity and beliefs.


Pastors not only have to focus on discipling others to reflect Jesus, but they also must invest in their own personal discipleship. This is crucial for their own spiritual health and for those they’re building up around them. 


Being a shepherd means leading and caring for your flock. A pastor needs to be able to do both equally well. This requires a shepherd leader (or servant leader) approach by demonstrating humility, sacrifice, and protection of those around them. 


Stewardship is a skill that pastors need to learn for caring and managing the resources of the church. For example, pastors have to know how to manage their time and effectively mobilize their staff and volunteers. Being able to fundraise and steward financial resources is also essential to operate and provide services to their communities. 

Overlooked skills for pastors

Some pastoral skills grow more important based on current cultural trends. The fact that our world is more interconnected through technology than ever before means new challenges to leading a church. Check out these three often underutilized skills that are important for today’s pastors.

Digital & in-person hybrid strategy 

At the beginning of 2020, technology was the last thing on most pastors’ minds. Today, however, using church tech to connect with their communities online is a top priority. Technology has impacted how people find and interact with churches, and pastors can share their gospel-focused content online to spur on spiritual formation beyond Sundays.

To learn how to approach creating a strategy for hybrid services, check out this Barna webinar for tips on effective hybrid service strategies to enhance your services and ministries with powerful digital tools


Pastors today have to navigate hot button issues through a divided culture. But how can they bring peace out of pain and accord out of discord? The practice of reconciliation is an invaluable skill to learn, helping pastors shepherd through divisive issues, teaching their congregations to hold a “third way” for resolving conflict, and bringing peace to a polarized culture.


As our world has become more secular than ever before, people are facing an outbreak of mental illness, social upheaval, and feelings of isolation. Pastors have a unique opportunity to show Jesus’ love and compassion for others by demonstrating empathy—understanding other people’s feelings, thoughts, and situations from their point of view. The more time pastors take to listen, relate, and sympathize with others, the more lives will be changed by the life-changing power of the gospel. 

Overrated pastor skills

Certain skills are attractive because they’re trendy or bring quick results, but in the end, it is often more effective to leave them in the hands of volunteers or staff. While they may offer some benefits, investing too much of a pastor’s time and energy into developing the following skills can actually have negative effects on your ministry. 

Charisma & enthusiasm

Pastors with charisma or a contagious enthusiasm can quickly attract people to their church. However, these skills can only take a pastor so far, and in some cases, charisma can lead to manipulation or sensationalism. Likewise, depending on enthusiasm can result in short-lived excitement or empty hype. Check out this podcast with Mike Cosper as he discusses “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill," a real-life example of the consequences of focusing too heavily on these skills. 

Social media expertise

Knowing how to establish a social media presence is a good skill for pastors to have. However, social media also has its fair share of problems such as distractions, cyberbullying, or the temptation to water down the gospel or take extreme positions in order to attract more followers. 

Advanced tech skills

Most pastors know that technology can help them reach people online and run their church more efficiently. Digital tools like online giving, church management systems (ChMS), and live streaming offer a lot of value, but unless they’re part of a comprehensive engagement platform they can also demand a lot of attention and take a toll on the other duties of a pastor.

You don’t need advanced IT, networking, or coding skills to make disciples in a digital age. Instead, you should prioritize streamlining your church tools to simplify your processes and, ultimately, free you up to do more ministry.

The right skills increase your impact

Taking time to develop your skill sets as a pastor will make you more effective and increase your impact on your church community. Your time is limited, so focusing on improving your most important skills will help you accomplish more with less. 

Thousands of pastors rely on Subsplash for simple-to-use yet powerful digital engagement tools like custom church apps, websites, live streaming, group messaging, and more. To find out how you can use Subsplash’s all-in-one solution to do more with less effort, schedule your free consultation today!


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