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5 Kinds Of Pastors

When a church is “looking” to call a pastor, in reality there are only five “types” of pastors out there.

A disclaimer before proceeding. These five types or paradigmatic pastors don’t cover varying theologies, beliefs, doctrines, or even tribal affinity. These categories are 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.

Each of these types carries positives and negatives, and most likely no one fits into only one category but rather has roots in one and branches that spread into one or two others, we're all mixed bags."

Here is the summation of the article of the 5 Kinds of Pastors:

The five archetypes of pastors are:
  • Catalytic 
  • Cultivator 
  • Conflict-Quelling 
  • Chaplain 
  • Catatonic 
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.

(ht: David Rudd)


not that you could rank them, but would one be better than the others?

I think each of them have good and bad, except for perhaps the catatonic pastor...I can't find too much good in that profile.

Except for the catatonic pastor, I think all the archetypes are good when they are in their ideal environments. For example, when I read the description of a catalytic pastor I immediately thought of my pastor. I'm on the launch team of a young church plant (part of the archetype) and I can definitely say that my pastor would not survive in the "wrong" church. He's too driven to wait years for change to occur; he has to see it quickly, even if it's only a small sign. If we're not moving forward it begins to eat at him. Coming from a church that is pastored by a catatonic pastor, it's been a big difference. I wouldn't say that I was lazy before, but being surrounded by people who share my drive to see progress and desire to reach local communities for Jesus pretty much lit a fire under my, well, you know.


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My family have been to an 8 years old church of catatonic and chaplain pastors for 2 years. Everything was just slow. Nothing really was happening. No prayer meetings, discipleship and leadership trainings. Once i suggested to have a prayer and fasting series, they said to break the fasting by 3pm cause this is the first time members will do this and they're not used doing this, and after that one and only event nothing follows. Also I was so shocked to see the catatonic pastor's facial reaction when me and my husband suggested to add afternoon service, and the chaplain pastor commented that the workers are tired already. Yes, definitely they'll get tired because they are not training their members. same faces every sunday, no growth in numbers and spirituality of members. Few are tithe giver. Glad our first family church planted church in the area where we live now. Holding 4 services in the afternoon and soon will add more during morning. In three months time all services in the afteroon are full. And have regular prayer and fasting schedules, and trainings. - Marina Tolentino

I think maybe this could also be applied to church congregations as well. Especially the catatonic congregation. Some just want to live their spiritual walk through their pastor, they think ministry is what the pastor does and they just live off his results (or lack thereof) They do not really want to do anything meaningful in the church but they sure want their pastor to do it for them!
They also see the church as a business. The church is NOT a business! You can not treat your pastor as an employee, he is a called out man of God. The Lord brought you this person for a reason, and if you are missing it, then maybe, just maybe it is your fault for not really wanting to find the reason.
I have seen churches playing the "ministry of the pastor" game far to long. It sickens me, and it surely does not please God. Churches who systematically throw out their pastors are showing a deep lack of faith and maturity, and a selfish attitude towards God of "we know better then you do Lord!"
They want their pastor to be all things to all people, all the while loving their endowments more then the Lord. It comes down to money I find. The LOVE of money, the ROOT of all evil, especially in the church.

very is unfortunate that we make the church a business...

The church is not a business, however, the stewards of the church must assure that the funds of the church are being used for God's work and not just the salary of a catatonic pastor who does not much more than write and deliver sermons. There is much more to be done within the congregation...prepare them to go out and spread the Word...get out and start things in the community in the name of the Lord...and take your congregation with you...get them out there working to spread the Word and teach them to get things started...bring lost sheep into the Word...fellowship with other congregations/Christians in the community. Use the funds of the church to promote these things!
If your catatonic pastor was once "on fire" for the Lord - he can be again. Pray for him/her. Pray that the fire for the Word of God be lit in him again!

who wrote this and has he ever pastored?

Our pastor definitely falls into the "Catatonic" category. He delivers one sermon a week. That's it. He doesn't maintain office hours (he prefers studying at home), and you can find him posting on Facebook at all hours of the night and early morning ... usually lamenting over his being unable to sleep. Our church office employees say that he seldom comes into the church during the week. He does take some counseling calls, and works with couples who are having marital problems. However, most of those people aren't members of our church. The pastor seldom attends any church functions/ministries. We have some ministries, such as feeding the poor, and serving dinner at a local half-way house, where the pastor has NEVER helped in the 7 years he's been the pastor. Incredible. He is constantly "on" the congregation about serving and the need for workers, but he does little to nothing outside of preaching one 45-minute sermon each week.

I read the comments here and I am amazed at how much people view their pastors...not entirely in a good way. We are, after all, all just bond servants of God and each one has a role to play in God's work.

This made me think of how much do I really pray for my pastor? Pastors are people just like us with a specific set of gifts and skills and they sure cant be a lot of things to a lot of people all at the same time. It's humanely impossible. But they were called definitely by God to feed and care for His their many forms, colors, shapes and sizes.

For a pastor to do that it would take many years of getting to know the people God gave him to care for. His main task is to pray for them, to love them and feed them with God's Word so they can do the work of sharing Christ to others.

I think a pastor can be all of the above (except the catatonic) depending on the needs of the people and the stage that they are in. A good pastor can be anyone that God requires of him for His people. At one point he can be catalytic to help people grow but when he sees the people burning out due to too much excitement and stress he can become a chaplain or cultivating type. When conflicts arise he need to be a conflict-quelling pastor. While doing all of these he can never ever become catatonic as he trusts God to lead him in caring for the people and growing the work as God planned. He may even be pastoring a work that God called to remain simple and small and yet if he is faithful in that then he is doing God's work the way God wants it. All of these he can accomplish only through Christ.

Therefore how or when or why the church grows does not depend on the pastor nor the is after all God's work and He will be gracious to whom He wants to be gracious. There is nothing we can do to make others believe God or accept Jesus. That is the Holy Spirit's work. We can only love God and others as ourselves. Doing that alone takes up so much of our heart, mind and strength. Attempts to attribute more than that to ourselves are just motivated by self-pride and ego.

- c.bessy

Chaplains do work with hurting people in difficult places, and that includes the church. A pastor who does not care for hurting people may bring them in the front door but they will be going right out the back door when their needs are not met. As a professional hospital chaplain, I object to this caricature that the author has presented. Chaplains merit a better consideration that given here.

Poor Catatonic Pastor. A man who HAS tried to motivate and mangage his membership only to find them unwilling to follow Jesus' will or his leadership. He is man who has been attacked, insulted, feels unappreciated, and unable to motavate. He finds himself and his family doing all the work in and out of the church. He puts up with "Know it alls" who have no idea how to pastor a congregation. He finds himself "catatonic" because he is burned out or stressed out from trying to lead sheep when people beleive he should be hearding cattle. May I quote scripture in closing, "If any man be ignorant let him be ignornat." 1 Cor 14:38 May I say to you ignorant of the catatonic pastor "get wisdom." God bless you Catatonic Pastors and give you encouragement in a discouraging non-spiritual world who show themselves as wolves and not sheep as they attack their pastors men called and commissioned by a Holy God.

Wow! Just wanna encourage readers on here that every pastor has one calling, which is to fulfill the great commission. I believe all these kinds of pastors are great personas in the body of Christ. In "Transform Your Pastoral Ministry", Dag Heward-Mills expounds the role of every kind of pastor in the church. Check it out, and discover this transformation occur practically in your ministry.

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I think that we also need to remember that pastors are a reflection of the church, in most cases hired by the church in one form or another. Active prayer for the pastor and congregation must be every members daily task.

Also we need to remember too, God can and has used all types to further His kingdom.

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