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.