When you’re in a church without a permanent pastor, there can be a lot of pressure to “get it right” when it comes to finding the next pastor that will lead your church. The interim pastors at VitalChurch have walked many churches through the process of searching for a new pastor and have learned some valuable things along the way. One of the things we have discovered is that what churches do before they even begin the search process may be the most vital to ensure they end up with a pastor who is a good fit for their congregation, and who will be successful for the long term in his ministry at the church.
Here are some thoughts from our Executive Director and experienced interim pastor, Dave Miles, about what your church should do before you even start asking for resumes from available candidates.
The pastoral search process is (or at least it should be) a spiritual discernment process, and not just about filling a vacant position. The man that God wants for a church may not necessarily be the best candidate “on paper”. So, before the process even begins, the church must be committed to prayer—prayer for the ability to hear God’s voice during the pastoral search process, and for the church’s next pastor. They should also ask, “What is the Spirit saying to the Church” and then apply the answers to the pastoral search process.
Understand Your Church’s Vision
When searching for a new permanent pastor, the vision of the church should be more important than the vision of the pastoral candidate. This means that a church must start the search process with a clearly understood and articulated idea of who the church is and where they believe God is taking them.
In addition, the vision expressed on the church’s website must match the real vision and values of the church. In other words, who they think they are must match who they actually are.
Deal with Congregational Issues
A church that has done their due diligence to face their congregational issues and is honest with themselves (and potential pastoral candidates) will be more likely to find pastor who is a good fit. If a church refuses to face the issues that undermine church health, it’s more likely that they’ll end up with someone who is just looking for a job. Or, they will end up with an unintentional interim pastor—someone who only stays for a short period of time because he is unwilling or unequipped to deal with the issues that preceded him.
Churches need to know what their real issues are before they can effectively deal with them and move forward with a new pastor. One way churches can identify the underlying issues that may be holding them back from their potential is to undergo a church health assessment with the diagnostic team at VitalChurch. You can read more about our diagnostic assessments here.
Choose the Right Search Committee Members
A search committee should represent the church accurately in terms of its makeup (age, race, gender) and values. It should also be made up of individuals whom the church trusts. Avoid putting someone on the pastoral search committee who is a known gossip, as strict confidentiality is an important component of a successful search process. Search committee members should also be:
- Team players
- Committed (and have the time to commit to the process)
- Honest regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the church
At least one person on the committee should have experience running effective meetings (the chairman), and another should have the ability to communicate well with church leadership and the church as a whole (the communications director). All search committee members should be committed to prayer for the duration of the process.
Get Expert Help, If Needed
Even if your church doesn’t use VitalChurch’s interim pastor services, we can still help you through the pastoral search process. Our team has produced some excellent resources that can help guide the entire process. We are also available to come on site at strategic times during the search process, or to schedule phone calls with church leadership and/or with the pastoral search committee to walk them through the various decisions that need to be made. We can even administer spiritual gifts tests to your top candidates to see if their gifts are a good match for your church’s needs.
In addition, the diagnostic team from VitalChurch can come to your church and complete a church assessment before you begin the pastoral search process. This will help you uncover some of the issues your church is facing, as well as accurately identify your church’s demographics (an important component to include in the pastoral search packet). We can also conduct a survey of your congregation and church leadership that will give you a good idea of what your church is looking for in its next senior pastor.
If you’d like to learn more about how VitalChurch can help your church identify the person God is calling to be your next senior pastor, contact us today.