The Solo Pastor: A Series on Needed Qualities and Skill-Sets

Two and a half years ago, I began serving my first pastoral appointment.  United Methodists are one of the few denominations that still operate under an itinerant system – where pastors are appointed to local churches by their bishop.  If you want to read more about itinerancy and its history you can click here, but that’s not what I want to talk about today.  Instead, I am going to begin a series reflecting on qualities and skill-sets I believe solo pastors need to have in order that they be “fruitful” leaders.

“Fruitful” itself is an idea I am just now leaning into, so let’s begin the series there.  I was challenged first by my District Superintendent and later by an “e-pistle” my bishop wrote to reflect on Aleze Fulbright’s questions, “What kinds of leadership do we want to develop? What word or words best describes a fully-devoted, mature, Christian leader?”  I’m not sure what word(s) I would use.  I used to strive to be “faithful,” but am now wondering if there aren’t other qualities I should add to it – such as “fruitful.”

I like that word.  It reminds me of Jesus.  It reminds me of the Genesis creation stories.  I find it challenging, inspiring, missional, and a way of life I can live into.  I also find it to be uniquely “Christian.” “Fruitful” isn’t a word too many would find on their jobs’ performance reviews.

So what does a “fruitful” solo pastor look like? What qualities, traits, and skill-sets might a fruitful solo pastor possess?  Here are a few I’ll be writing about, with probably others that will be added along the way:

  • Intrinsically motivated by the Holy Spirit
  • A Christian imagination
  • An ability and desire to create systems of support
  • The “coaching gene” (or is at least a tenacious equipment manager)
  • A holy discontent

There you have it.  Let’s see where this conversation will take us in the weeks ahead!  If you have any others you would add, please let me know in the comments section!


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