Common pitfalls in the pastor search process

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

There are a number of ways the search process can go in the ditch:

Bad etiquette and ethics

Almost every pastor can tell a horror story about being contacted by a pastor search committee and then having said committee become as elusive as Bigfoot. No! Be courteous! Be professional! My friend Pete Wall says, “You’re not just looking at a candidate; he’s also looking at you!”

Dog and pony show

It is a very bad practice to have a continuous flow of candidates in the church’s pulpit until the committee has thoroughly vetted the candidate and is ready to present him “in view of a call.” Like Annora Mallard says, “This turns the whole church into a pulpit committee.”

You may get a good outcome from a bad process, but that is only because God is kind and gracious. The church has tasked the committee/team with doing the hard work of finding a new pastor.

Ignoring red flags

In the course of investigating a candidate there may be problems that predict a pastor will be a bad fit for your church. Pay close attention to red flags like denominational incompatibility, repeated short tenures, and insufficient information on a resume. Your church is probably not the exception to some rule.

Inadequate investigation of candidate

Many bad ministry hires could have been avoided with a more thorough, deliberate process of looking into the ministry candidate’s background. Everybody puts their buddies on their resume as references. Committees have to go beyond the references the candidate has made available. Committees should ask references for references. Criminal background investigations should be considered mandatory, but even that is really only the tip of the iceberg.

Call the director of missions in the areas the candidate has previously served. Don’t get bitten by something avoidable. Do the hard work of being thorough.

Over-spiritualizing

God may drop a candidate into your church from the sky, but more than likely you will have to work really hard and turn over a few stones to find the right person. This is particularly true of some bi-vocational churches.

Most churches in these days will need a competent, strategic leader to help them with challenges that are facing nearly all congregations in a post-Christian society. Those kinds of leaders don’t grow on trees.

Tom Duvall recognized for 50 years of distinguished service
Pleasant Grove thrives on its 160th birthday
Ray on the River: a retiree’s solo missions adventure to the ocean
A tour unholy in name, unpleasant by design
SBC resolutions affirm women, denounce abuse
WRAP-UP: Greear, Pence, #MeToo draw SBC’s focus
Greear lays out six emphases as president, answers reporters’ questions
Mike Pence as much at home behind the pulpit as giving a campaign speech
Acts of God and the Philadelphia Eagles
Former all-conference lineman for Shorter returns as head football coach
Tony Lundy named Director of Athletics at Shorter University
Dawgs Rule in SEC
What Youth Need from the Church
College students prepare to launch into summer missions
In Hiawassee, this youth worker literally speaks across generations
This summer, prepare your child for spiritual maturity as an adult
Daily Bible Readings: June 16-30
Bible Study for June 17: Why Can’t We Fix It?
Bible Study for June 10: Why are we in this mess?
Daily Bible Readings: June 1-15