Theocratic Motivation


            Unmotivated church members and leaders can become a hassle to pastors. If church members do not buy into the vision and leadership of the pastor, it can become a hindrance of revival within the church. For this reason, it is essential that a pastor keeps his church motivated and bought into his vision. A pastor can get members to buy into his ministry and goals by establishing relationships with his congregants. A personal connection between pastor and members allows for the members to take ownership of the vision for themselves. Ultimately, everyone has personal needs that innately motivate them. Spiritually, we all have needs to be attended to and developed. If a pastor can determine these needs and direct his congregation from the methodology of personal development, he will have a congregation that is naturally motivated.

Theocratic Motivation: Maintaining Motive Within the Church

            1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (The Holy Bible: King James Version, 2009). This scripture is a perfect example of how a theocratic church government should work. Paul is telling the church at Corinth to follow and abide by his teachings as he aims in following after Jesus Christ. Yet, there is still another aspect of revelation to be understood from this verse. Paul is simply telling the church members to follow him as he follows Christ. It is key to understand that a pastor is first a follower. No doubt, many would agree that Paul was one of the greatest Apostles to ever live, but he had to first focus on his personal relationship with God. This principle of leading by following is also true within the church setting. The Azusa Street Revival is considered to be one of the greatest revivals to date and is referred to as the birth of modern day Pentecostalism. Azusa was a revival that was birthed solely out of prayer. Frank Bartleman records in his autobiography of the meeting, “We had been praying for many months for victory. Jesus was now ‘showing Himself alive’ again to many” (1982, p. 39). The revival was purely comprised of hungry people seeking after more of God. “The meetings were controlled by the Spirit, from the throne” (Bartleman, 1982, p. 58). The Azusa Street Revival style of leading came exclusively from a standpoint of spiritual desire. The leaders of Azusa were not trying to build a mega church, they simply wanted more and more of God. This is what Paul was talking about in his statement to the Corinthians. He was asking them to follow his vision and direction, but he was also following the direction of God.

            Within the local church the pastor is intended to be the predominate voice of God to the church body. It is the pastor’s responsibility to seek God and determine His will for the direction of the church. The pastor also needs to open the doors to allow his church body to receive what God has for them. This can be achieved through means such as revival services, weekly prayer meetings, and all church fasts; which are just a few of the numerous events that can impact the church. How growing a healthy church is implemented will differ vastly, but every pastor must get a direction for the church to go. Motivation requires one to buy into what needs to be done. As a result it is impossible to get people motivated where there is no vision. Proverbs 29:18 puts it like this, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (The Holy Bible: King James Version, 2009).

            Once the pastor has a set word of direction from God then he can begin implementing it into the church. This is the stage where the force of motivation is generated. Implementation requires people buying into the change that is being done, but before people buy into change they must first buy into the pastor’s idea. The church body and leadership staff must buy into the concept and vision of the pastor before the implementation can really begin. Robert Domokos gives three concepts for a pastor to utilize when trying to implement congregational motivation;  Build a Relationship with the People, Learn to Work with the Church Board, and Understand Your Position as a Spiritual Leader (Domokos, 1991). These concepts are very true, because at some point every pastor will need to implant each in order to grow the church body. Like it or not, church is a social event and a social gathering. People come to church to see their friends and to make new friends that share a common belief system. A pastor needs to get to know the people he is leading. Domokos says, “The pastoral ministry should not be considered a no-contact vocation” (1991). People simply want to know that their pastor or church cares about them.

            Theocratic motivation is the principle of people buying into the vision or direction given by the pastor and doing what is necessary to make the vision become a reality. Again, motivating people is based on getting them to buy into the vision of a leader and working to make it happen. In his book “Feeding and Leading” Gangel says, “We have treated motivation as an understanding of the way we make people do things or perhaps make them want to do things that we clearly understand they ought to do” (1989, p. 165). Gangel argues in his book the idea of motivating without manipulating. Too often leaders consciously or subconsciously manipulate those around them into doing what they want to see done. This is not how motivation is suppose to work, and in reality, it’s not real motivation. This method may work to get the job done, but often times an individual is only doing the job for the reward at the end of the job. The individual  doesn’t accomplish the task because it’s something they truly want to be doing. This is where a pastor must step back and look at the big picture of church and pastoral leadership. The pastor must connect his vision for the church body with the vision of the individual saint. What will the average church member gain by attending this church? This is where a pastor can fine tune his vision towards the common individual to make it work for them.

            There are numerous theories and concepts regarding how an individual is motivated. These theories range from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to Theory X and Theory Y. Maslow’s theory is summarized, 

“Dr. Abraham Maslow suggests that every individual must satisfy certain basic needs. As these needs are met they no longer motivate a person. The primary universal needs that Maslow sees are the physiological—food, rest, and shelter. He suggests that when these basic needs are met a person next seeks to satisfy the need for safety, then for social relationships, next for self-esteem, and finally self-actualization” (Owen, 1984).

This short quote gives a generalized understanding that every person is innately motivated to a certain extent. Maslow suggests that as each need is fulfilled the motivation then moves forward to the next level. Every person has physical needs for food, shelter, love, and so forth, but what about an individual’s spiritual needs? This is where a pastor must determine the spiritual level and maturity of his congregation and lead them correctly down this path. There are always going to be new saints and old pillars, yet, the church as a whole will have a specific spiritual level. If the pastor can determine where the church is at spiritually this will greatly aid in effectively motivating the entire church body behind him. John MacArthur states, “That’s really the essence of evangelism. You locate a common point of reference or interest and begin a conversation, anticipating how you can direct that conversation toward eternal matters” (2013). In this blog post MacArthur talks about the conversation of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Jesus immediately addresses the spiritual needs of the woman before she even realizes it (2013). This is the same model a pastor should aim to follow in regards to pastoring his church.

            Ultimately, like Jesus with the Samaritan woman, a pastor is trying to guide individuals to a specific goal, heaven. The entire reason for the church is to one day hear the words in Matthew 25:23, “…Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (The Holy Bible: King James Version, 2009). This is the ultimate goal for every believer in the local church. Yet, there are numerous other tasks we must do and be faithful over before that day. One of the jobs of the pastor is to grow the people of his church to a deeper spiritual level of maturity. A pastor’s ministry is not over when he retires; there must be someone else behind him to continue growing the church. Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 4:19, “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (The Holy Bible: King James Version, 2009). Jesus was the first and the ultimate mentor of the church. Jesus took mere fishermen and turned them into apostles, who’s revelation and words of wisdom are still quoted daily a few millennia later. The best way to motivate spiritually hungry people within the church is to invest in them and promote their ministry. Gangel mentions in his book, “The Christian leader (administrator) understands that he functions in order to facilitate the ministry of others. He does what he must do in order that they may do what God has called them to do” (1989, p. 36). The greatest way a pastor can keep a church spiritually motivated is to invest in the lives of individual ministries within the church. This grows both the pastor and the ministries of the church body. It keeps people hungry for God and promotes a deeper desire for greater things within the church.


Bartleman, F. (1982). Azusa Street. New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House.

Domokos, R. (1991, September). Pastoral Direction and Congregational Motivation. Retrieved from

Gangel, K.O. (1989). Feeding and Leading: A Practical Handbook on Administration in Churches and Christian Organizations. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

MacArthur, J. (2013, May 22). Retrieved from

Owen, W. (1984, November). Motivating Your Members. Ministry Magazine: International Journal for Pastors, Retrieved from

The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version.). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.