The pastor search process


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The pastor search process

  1. 1. The Pastor Search Process<br />You’ve been elected and entrusted by your church with the responsibility of seeking a new pastor. This could be the most frustrating time of your life IF your search is based on the whims of your congregation. If you and your committee are convinced that God has already chosen someone to lead your congregation, this could be the most exciting time of your life. Over the next few weeks or months, you will be responsible for discovering God’s will for your church family as He leads you to the person He has chosen to be your next pastor. This is a time that should draw you ever nearer to God as you submit to His leadership. <br />This is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. The health of your congregation depends on you exercising sound judgment that grows out of an intimate personal relationship with Christ. That’s why the top priority of any search committee should be PRAYER. Individual members of the committee should be staunch prayer warriors. The committee as a whole should spend much time in prayer together seeking God’s direction. The committee chair should keep the committee before the congregation as a prayer request, reminding the people to pray that God would lead them to the person HE has chosen in HIS time. <br />PRAY! PRAY! PRAY! When a search committee is seeking “. . . first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness . . ,” God Himself will direct their search with patience, diligence, and purpose. <br />-2-<br />What’s next in the process? AN OPEN MIND! Each member of the committee should come to the table with an open-mind. We all bring our own preferences and agendas to the process. We can’t help it. It’s part of our flawed humanity. But what if the person God wants us to have is someone who doesn’t fit into a committee member’s preferences/agenda? Each member of the committee must be open-minded and teachable to the point that your own preferences are subjected to the will of God. (See Isaiah 55:8 and 2 Corinthians 10:5)<br />A final thought regarding the process: A COMMITMENT TO HONESTY! Both candidates and search committees put their best foot forward in the search process. You and your committee should commit to God and one another that you will be open and honest in every communication with prospective pastors and your congregation. My children rarely lied to me. HOWEVER, there were numerous times when they failed to tell me the whole truth. Honesty that is not absolute is not really honesty. So, when communicating with potential pastors, be absolutely honest even if it’s uncomfortable. Be forthright in your answers to a candidate’s questions and expect the same from him. (See Matthew 5:37; James 5:12; Ephesians 4:15)<br />-3-<br />After a period of prayer, a written survey of your membership can help you get a feel for congregational hopes and expectations regarding a new pastor. REMEMBER! A committee’s first obligation regarding expectations is assure that they are biblical. (See I Timothy 1-13; Titus 1:7-10; Hebrews 13:7, 17) So filter the survey results through the scriptures A sample congregational survey is attached. <br />Use the surveys to develop a profile for the candidates you will investigate more thoroughly. <br />REQUESTING RESUMES<br />Covenant together that you will REQUIRE resumes for consideration. There will always be well-meaning folks who “know someone” who would make a good pastor. Resumes provide a vehicle for tracing work history, educational history, and denominational/doctrinal history. It will also provide references. So communicate to your congregation that resumes are REQUIRED for every potential candidate. <br />Contact your local association and your state convention office for resumes. You can contact the SC Baptist Convention at 800-723-7242 and ask for Betty Head at Extension 3200 or by email at Contact your local association at 549-7813 or by email at <br />Contact the Baptist Courier at 864-232-8736 or by email and place your advertisement. Provide an email address to which interested candidates can respond. IN the ad, let them know your average worship attendance. Most candidates are more interested in attendance than membership. Let them know if your worship style is traditional, contemporary, or a blend. Let them know about extension ministries such as preschools/kindergartens or schools. <br />If you desire to contact state conventions other than the SCBC, contact your associational office for contact information. <br />READING RESUMES<br />As you review resumes . . . <br /><ul><li>look closely at the length of service in each ministry position. A track record of tenures less than 4 years in length can be a red flag;
  2. 2. read the doctrinal statement carefully. If your church is intent on being a Southern Baptist Church, you want to be sure any candidate you consider is Southern Baptist by conviction;
  3. 3. check the references. Look for an educational reference, a peer reference, a lay reference, and supervisory reference;</li></ul>Once your committee has agreed to scrutinize 3-5 resumes a little deeper, contact each of those candidates and provide them with a questionnaire. (sample attached) Once the questionnaires are returned, this will give you additional personal information to review before requesting sermon samples from your top 2-3 candidates. When you’ve settled on your top 2-3, request that each send your committee a video sermon sample. Most will be able to do this with online resources. <br />As your review the videos, this will help you determine which candidates you might want to visit. <br />INTERVIEWING POTENTIAL PASTORS<br />Once your committee has settled on 2-3 finalists, candid interviews are a must. This allows you to gain deeper insights into candidate’s personality and preferences. (A sample interview is attached) You will certainly want to hear the candidate’s testimony regarding his salvation. You will also want to hear his testimony about his call into vocational ministry. You will want to hear him present the gospel to your committee as if he were talking to a lost person. Most people are comfortable talking about their strong points. Ask him what he sees as weakness(es) in his pastoral ministry. (Remember!!! No one does it all with great strength. To expect that is unreasonable) Ask him about dedicated “family time.” Remember!! His ministry should NOT be his mistress. Let him know that the congregation expects his family to be a priority. <br />PRESENTING A CANDIDATE<br />Once your committee has settled on a candidate and he is in agreement with you, prepare a presentation for the church. Be sure you have these items in place:<br /><ul><li>A detailed financial package;
  4. 4. Funds to pay for the candidate’s visit to your church (lodging, meals, travel)
  5. 5. Funds/Plan for moving expenses (Is there a parsonage or will the pastor need assistance in finding rental property?)
  6. 6. A planned visit --- perhaps a Thursday – Sunday visit. This would allow . . .
  7. 7. Meeting time with church leadership (deacons, staff, church council)
  8. 8. Meeting time with church family drop-in style
  9. 9. Opportunities for candidate & family to explore the area, look at schools, possible housing, meet the associational staff & other pastors
  10. 10. A meeting with youth
  11. 11. The candidate to preach on Sunday in view of a call</li></ul>Before the candidate comes for the visit, present the financial package, funding for the visit & possible move, and the schedule for the visit to the congregation. You want as many people as possible to be involved in this part of the process. <br />THINGS TO AVOID<br /><ul><li>Assumptions - If it’s not communicated clearly, it’s not so. Don’t assume anything. Get as much as possible in writing;
  12. 12. Placing unwritten expectations on the candidate’s wife. You are voting to call HIM as your pastor. She is HIS helpmeet. Protect her right to choose where and how she will serve in the church;
  13. 13. Demanding too much of his time during the transition. This is especially true if he has children. Making a move is always difficult and even more so when you uproot children from friends & schools. Give him plenty of liberty during the first 2-3 months to help his family acclimate to their new ministry field.</li></ul>The attachments are provided as a courtesy. They are the intellectual property of Building Church Leaders, a division of Christianity Today. The Ministry Covenant was designed by Dr. Zane Brown. <br />All of these items are models. Please feel free to customize them to suit your situation. For additional help, contact me at or 843-549-7813.<br />