Posted On August 31, 2015

Areas of Opportunity for Pastoral Search Committees

by | Aug 31, 2015 | Featured, The Gospel and the Church

indexOver 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.

Related Posts

Prayer: A Source of Living Water and Strength for Desert Wanderers

Prayer: A Source of Living Water and Strength for Desert Wanderers

We know we need to pray. We also know the Scripture commands us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). After all, the forces of evil will do everything in their power to stop God’s people from praying. Even though we know all that (or should know that), we often...

Testing and Temptation in Scripture

Testing and Temptation in Scripture

On today’s episode, a listener writes in and asks Dave, “Is temptation sin?” What You'll Hear on this Episode Testing and Temptation in the Old and New Testament Subscribing, sharing, and your feedback You can subscribe to the Servants of Grace Podcast via iTunes,...

Christ’s Intercession on Our Behalf

Christ’s Intercession on Our Behalf

On today’s For Life and Godliness, Drew considers the intercession of Christ and its importance of it in the Christian life. Subscribing, sharing, and your feedback You can subscribe to Life and Godliness via iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify. If you like what you’ve...

Christian Friendship and Doing Life With One Another

Christian Friendship and Doing Life With One Another

On today’s Equipping You in Grace show, Dave considers the nature and purpose of Christian friendship and why real Christian friends tell each other hard biblical truths, comfort one another in love with Scripture, and do life with one another through every stage of...

Churches Need Expository Preaching

Churches Need Expository Preaching

Churches need pastors committed to expository preaching. An expository sermon submits its shape, emphasis, and argument to the Biblical text being preached. The point of the passage is the point of the sermon. A commitment to expository preaching exposes our...

The Death of a Spouse — Part II

The Death of a Spouse — Part II

Psalms 13:2 (NIV), “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” How much longer? How much longer? Four hundred fifty-eight days later, not only has my hatred of death not diminished even...



  1. Encouragement to Search Committees and Pastoral Candidates | Servants of Grace - […] the first article I provided some examples for search committees to consider when giving feedback to pastor […]
  2. Weekly Roundup 8/31/2015-9/5/2015 | | Servants of Grace - […] Areas of Opportunity for Pastoral Search Committees by Dave Jenkins […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.