June 5, 2019 • Lee Faler
If you are going into the ministry, or if you are already in the ministry, chances are you will have to deal with a pastor search committee. As someone who has dealt with a pastor search committee very recently, I can say there are some things that you want to do, and some things you do not want to do. The purpose of this article is to discuss some of the do’s and don’ts of dealing with pastor search committees.
Be honest about your theology. Be honest about your weaknesses. Be honest about your past ministry experience in previous churches. Put all of your cards on the table early, and don’t hold anything back from the committee. Be transparent with the committee today, so that no one is ignorant tomorrow.
Ask hard questions.
Ask why the last three pastors left. Ask if they have ever had to fire a staff member. Ask what are the biggest problems facing the church. If the committee tells you there aren’t any problems in their church, they are either lying, or they are blissfully ignorant. Ask how resistant they are to change. Ask what mission endeavors they have undertaken in the past.
Protect your privacy.
Try not to let private information become public knowledge. Many pastors have faced tumultuous problems because their private meetings with pastor search committees became public knowledge. In some cases, church members found out what was going on, and started a wildfire in the church, only for the pastor to wind up not leaving the church, but because private information became public knowledge, it took years for the pastor to regain trust from the congregation. Guard your privacy, because if you don’t, no one else will. Be careful whom you open up to. Don’t approve friend requests on Facebook from members on the committee. If the committee wants to hear you preach, be very cautious about allowing them to come hear you at your current place of service. Don’t set yourself up for problems, especially since there is a high probability that God may not lead you away from your place of service.
Deal with more than one committee at a time.
There may reach a point where two committees reach out to you simultaneously. My personal opinion is that it’s best to only deal with one at a time because your heart and emotions can quickly become divided. One church may look more appealing than the other, and you could become tempted to go to greener pastures when God is not calling you in that direction. Like it or not, even pastors are sinful beings and we can easily be swayed with the hopes of more money, or more prestige. Don’t set yourself up for that.
Talk about salary packages at the first meeting.
Don’t, I repeat do not, bring up money at this first meeting. You will come across as having the wrong motives, and they will think you’re only in the ministry for the money. I understand that pastors need to be paid, and I realize that we will have to talk about salary, but the first meeting is not the place for that discussion. As a matter of fact, if you bring up the salary at the first meeting, don’t be surprised when there isn’t a second meeting. If anything, let the committee bring up the salary discussion.
Don’t be a part of a cattle auction.
What do I mean by that? At a cattle auction, cows are paraded through an arena and sold to the highest bidder. Untrained committees will do something similar to a cattle auction. They will bring in different pastors to preach supply each week, and when they get positive feedback from the church on a particular pastor, they will interview him. The dangers here are two fold. One the committee is usually only interested in pleasing the church rather than seeking the will of God. They open themselves up to calling ear ticklers, rather than those who would preach the full counsel of God’s word. Secondly, if you are currently serving as a pastor, and you are trying to navigate the waters of transition, the truth is that you likely don’t have the time to partake in a cattle auction, so simply put, don’t partake.
These are my suggestions for dealing with pastor search committees. What would you suggest?