Over the month of August, we have posted nine articles here at Servants of Grace as part of a series on the character of God. The purpose of this series is to help our readers think through what the character of God is and it’s importance to the Christian faith. To that end, the contributors have endeavored to help you understand what Scripture and church history teach about the character of God and how a better understanding of God’s character will help you grow as a Christian.
I hope this series has encouraged you, exalted in King Jesus, and has helped you grow in the grace of God.
Here are the articles in order:
1) The Character of God and The Inspiration of Scripture by Dave Jenkins
2) Understanding the Names of God by Dave Jenkins
3) El Roi: God of Seeing by Dave Jenkins
4) Qanna: God is a Jealous God by Mike Boling
5) Jehovah Sabaoth – The Lord of Hosts by Dave Jenkins
6) Elohei Mishpat: The God of Justice by Jason Garwood
7) Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord is Peace by David Dunham
8) Knowing God: His Name is YHWH by Mathew Sims
9) Adonai: Lord and Master in and over All by Timothy Nargi
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In the first article I provided some examples for search committees to consider when giving feedback to pastor candidates, especially those areas of opportunity for growth. My reason for writing that article is to help both parties think through how to treat one another in a manner worthy of the calling they’ve received from the Lord Jesus. In this article, I want to encourage both pastoral candidates and pastoral search committees to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the gospel.
I’ve had more than one pastor over the years tell me horror stories of how other pastoral candidates were treated in a very unchristian manner by search committee members. Pastoral search candidates work hard to put together their resume, research the church, learn about the location of the church, and so on. Pastoral candidates are applying to your church search committees because they love Christ and the local church, and believe the Lord is calling them to pastor, so please treat them as you would want to be treated.
Pastoral candidates: let me encourage you that while the feedback you receive may not be what you want to hear, you still need to hear it. If a search committee offers feedback please don’t take it personally. They do so because they care about you. How you respond to criticism says a lot about your present character and your future effectiveness in ministry. So keep an open mind to what people say. Be discerning, ask questions, including clarifying questions.
Search committees: when putting out your position on the Internet please make sure the details of the position are clear. It is hard for us as pastoral candidates to be told when we interview for a position at your church that there is more to the job. More than likely (if we’re serious about this position) we’ve discussed this position with our wives, including the location of your church, etc. All of this is to say, search committee, remember that your potential candidates want to see a well-articulated explanation of the essentials of the job listed on the site. They want to know the work they will do at your church. They also want to learn about your church on your site before they talk to you on the phone or on a video conference call, so be sure to have the relevant information on your websites (e.g., your ministries, statement of faith, elder board, deacon board, present staff, etc.).
Searching for a pastoral position is hard work. It takes me time to apply for a position. Personally, I look not only at the details of the job and whether I’d be a good fit but ask the question, “Do I really want to live there?” I also look at how the ministry of the church functions. For example, I want to know what they believe and if what they believe influences what happens on Sunday. One example (among many) is whether they go through books of the Bible or just preach topical sermons. For me and my wife this is a big deal because while we believe that the primary preaching ministry of the local church should be verse by verse exposition of the Word, we aren’t against topical preaching on occasion (such as after a long series on the Bible or a summer series on a particular topic). Also, future pastoral candidates want to hear what expectations you have for them and how you will manage them.
Above all, pastoral candidates should communicate to any search committee members that they love Jesus and care deeply about the church to whom they are applying. Both search committee members and pastoral candidates have ventured into a journey together. The local church search committee, by choosing a particular set of candidates to explore, has expressed interest in the future development of these men.
By taking an intentional and purposeful approach as I’ve outlined in these articles, it is my hope that pastoral search candidates applying to your local church might have a godly experience with search committee members. At the end of the day, both pastoral candidates and pastoral search committees are called to one another each other for this is Jesus’ command (John 13:35). May that be the aim for the pastoral search candidate and the pastoral search committee members: that we might build one another up to the glory of God.
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Over the past three years since graduating from seminary, I’ve been actively pursuing pastoral ministry positions. During this time, I’ve been interviewed as a candidate for pastoral positions at a number of churches, and my experience for the most part with search committees has been mostly positive.
In this article my intention is not to critique search committees since these are men and women who spend hours sifting over resumes, interviewing candidates, and doing hard work at their day jobs to support their families, while most of them volunteer in a variety of roles at their local church. As someone who is actively involved at my local church and has a front row seat to several of these search committees, I can testify that these men and women work hard, love Christ, and want to serve the local church. My intention in this article is to hopefully provide some helpful advice (as one who is actively pursuing a pastoral position), on what I would like to hear from search committees with regard to feedback from them.
What I Want To Hear From Search Committees
When hearing back from a search committee, I want to hear more than generic feedback. Recently I interviewed for a position and had what I thought was a fabulous conversation with one member of the search committee. Before this interview I spent a considerable amount of time looking at this church’s social media and website in order to learn as much as I could about their ministry philosophy, statement of faith, and how they do life as a church. When I got a generic email from them (as I have from several churches) saying I was a strong candidate, but wasn’t given any feedback, I was disappointed. This made me wonder what else I could have said or improved upon in my process as I continue to look for ministry opportunities.
Search committee members have a hard job. They don’t want to discourage those actively looking for pastoral positions. This is why I’m writing this article. I’m actively applying, interviewing, and learning as I go and want the feedback. What I want to hear from the search committee are some positives and some areas of opportunity. As a future pastor, I want to learn from any lapses in my communication with those I’m interviewing.
Search committee members: pastoral candidates want to hear from the church they are being considered by. My experience with other pastors has taught me they care why the church has turned them down. I want to hear specifically why I wasn’t chosen. I want to hear positive things like, “I liked your resume, your philosophy of ministry; I liked how you talked about your testimony, your previous ministry work,” or, “How you’re happy where you are but actively pursuing future ministry opportunities as the Lord leads,” etc. In addition to this, I need your feedback in order to grow. I haven’t arrived, nor do I believe I am perfect.
Areas of Opportunity
My advice for pastoral search committees is to be as specific as they can if they decide to provide feedback. As I mentioned, it’s discouraging to get a generic letter getting told you weren’t selected. I understand why these letters are sent and appreciate some communication rather than no communication. But we are needing more than this.
When giving feedback to your pastoral candidate please tell them you appreciate the time they’ve giving to you on studying your church’s website learning about the various ministries in your local church, and how they see themselves fitting into the life of your church. Serious pastoral candidates want to hear feedback. Any member of a search committee should want to help your brother in Christ grow as a future pastor. It’s healthy for him, and it’s healthy for the Body of Christ.
By phrasing any critique as areas of opportunity you’re inviting the candidate to learn from this experience with your church. Many search committees may not want to do this, and there are good reasons for not wanting to do this. As a pastoral candidate, I’m wanting to hear how I “didn’t meet your expectations as a candidate,” so I can learn and continue to progress in my search. This is why I suggest only giving one or two areas of opportunity so as to not overwhelm the candidate.
Search committees: please be prepared that some candidates like myself, for example, may want to interact with you on the feedback you give. Please allow them to interact with you, even after you’ve said no to them in regards to the position at your church so they can grow. This also allows for learning to take place and improvement to be made on both sides.
You might hear from the search committee and they say, “We really think you have a great education, but we’re looking for someone with more experience in this particular area.” Pastoral candidate, please don’t take this as a discouragement in your search for a pastoral position; rather, take this as a compliment that you have a great deal of educational experience. Please take what they say about getting more experience seriously. What helps me is to keep the following mindset known as F.A.T. (Be Faithful, Be Available, Be Teachable) in mind. In this way, you’re taking the advice of this search committee to heart and learning from it while you continue to serve the Lord where you are. In the next article, I’ll outline some areas to encourage pastoral candidates and search committees.
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This is our weekly roundup of posts for 8/24/2015-8/29/2015. If you have any feedback on how we can serve you our readers better, I would appreciate it. Thank you for reading and allowing us to minister to you throughout this past week through these posts.
The Good Shepherd reviewed by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/the-good-shepherd/
What is Theology? by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/what-is-theology/
Packer on the Christian Life Knowing God in Christ, Walking by the Spirit reviewed by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/packer-on-the-christian-life-knowing-god-in-christ-walking-by-the-spirit/
“But God…” by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/but-god/
Philippians (Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament) by Joseph H. Hellerman reviewed by Craig Hurst http://servantsofgrace.org/philippians-exegetical-guide-to-the-greek-new-testament-by-joseph-h-hellerman/
What is Systematic Theology? by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/what-is-systematic-theology/
Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord is Peace by David Dunham http://servantsofgrace.org/jehovah-shalom-the-lord-is-peace/
Knowing God: His Name is YHWH by Mathew Sims http://servantsofgrace.org/knowing-god-his-name-is-yhwh/
God, Adam, and You Biblical Creation Defended and Applied reviewed by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/god-adam-and-you-biblical-creation-defended-and-applied/
Five Words Which Could Change Your Bible Study by Mike Leake http://servantsofgrace.org/five-words-which-could-change-your-bible-study/
40 Questions About Baptism and the Lord’s Supper by John S. Hammett reviewed by Craig Hurst http://servantsofgrace.org/40-questions-about-baptism-and-the-lords-supper-by-john-s-hammett/
Three Ways to Handle Disappointment and Discouragement by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/three-ways-to-handle-disappointment-and-discouragement/
Exercising the Sense of Hearing by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/exercising-the-sense-of-hearing/
Assistance for the Life of Holiness by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/assistance-for-the-life-of-holiness/
Adonai: Lord and Master in and over All by Timothy Nargi http://servantsofgrace.org/adonai-lord-and-master-in-and-over-all/
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There have been many difficult times in my life, times where looking back I thought for sure that I wasn’t going to make it through them. Through these times, God has always shown Himself faithful to His Word. Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers of our country said, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Every single one of us has had these times—times that have tried us.
We are living in difficult times, but through them God promises to use these situations for His glory (Genesis 50:20). The Apostle Paul went through many, many trials (2 Cor. 11). In 2 Corinthians 1:1-11, Paul relates to his audience by showing that he is an afflicted leader (2 Cor. 1:8-9; 11:23-33), who is writing to a congregation that is experiencing affliction. His response to their trials is to direct them to the “God of all comfort” (1:3). This understanding of God’s nature is grounded in the person and work of Jesus, who experienced ultimate suffering and affliction on the cross, and who, in his resurrected rule, abundantly comforts his people.
By knowing this and experiencing the comfort that he provides, we are able to understand our own afflictions as evidence of our solidarity with Christ. We can never suffer for the purpose of redemption, for we cannot add to the atoning work of Christ. However, our afflictions can serve as windows to the reality and benefits of our union with Christ. If we experience affliction as Christ did, we can expect to be comforted as Christ was (v.5). If we undergo suffering, we can anticipate consolation. Even if we experience deadly peril, our hope has been set on a God who delivers us from death (v.10).
The reason for our afflictions is “to make us rely not on ourselves but on God” (v.9). This reliance translates into a life of patience (v.6) and prayer (v.11). As we experience the deep comforts of the gospel, which transcend circumstance and self-centeredness, we become comforters of the afflicted (v.4; 2:7). Those who share in the comforts of the gospel are those who actively share the comforts of the gospel with those in need.
Today you might be going through a lot of difficulties, and life may be coming at you a million miles an hour. Know that your Redeemer—Jesus Christ—lives to make intercession for you, and that, as John Flavel once said, “The more afflictions you have been under, the more assistance you have had for this life of holiness.”
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