Sometimes pastors only get one chance to make a good impression.
Sometimes pastors only get one chance to make a good impression. (Lightstock )

Initially, when you ask church guests what they like about a pastor, they will respond with a comment about the pastor's preaching. But if you go just one more level in the conversation, these church guests will also talk about the favorable personality traits of the pastor.

Most of these traits fall under the category of "relational skills." Here are some of the most common personality traits noted in exit interviews with church guests. Each of the traits is followed with a representative guest comment:

1. Down-to-earth  "I hadn't been in church in over seven years. When I visited this church, I was shocked how the pastor seemed to be a regular guy. When I used to go to church, pastors presented themselves as high and mighty. Not this pastor."

2. Other-centered –  "The pastor is always asking about how others are doing. He really seems to care about other people."

3. Sense of humor – "There is no doubt the pastor takes his ministry seriously; he just doesn't take himself too seriously. He seems to have a lot of fun."

4. Humble  "The pastor at the church I'm visiting is one of the most humble people I know. He never talks about himself unless it is self-deprecation."

5. Relational  "The pastor says he is an introvert, but he sure has good relational skills. The two times I spoke with him were very enjoyable conversations."

6. God-centered  "Pastor Frank is a man of prayer. You can just tell he walks with God."

7. Not defensive  "I heard someone criticize the pastor after worship services. I was amazed how he responded kindly and gently. I would have hit the person!"

Of course, the guests who provided these exit interviews do not know the pastors of the churches well. Some had visited only once or a few times. But these first impressions were lasting. Indeed, the personality traits of a pastor, for better or worse, played a major role in the guests' decisions to return to these churches.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this rather different perspective of guest friendliness.

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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