Looking for a new pastor can be a daunting challenge. In this blog, I will offer several tips for successful pastoral searches (this content is also available in a training video that you can find here).
One cannot underestimate the incredible importance of prayer in a pastoral search process. The search committee needs to devote a significant portion of their meeting time to prayer (a perfunctory prayer at the start of each meeting is simply not adequate). In addition, the church leadership must mobilize the congregation to pray and even challenge some to form a prayer team around the search.
Understand that your primary role is to discern God’s leading
In a pastoral search process, we’re not looking for the best candidate who applies; we’re looking for the right candidate (click to Tweet). This is why prayer is so vitally important. Don’t worry if an outstanding candidate doesn’t fit or decides to move in a different direction. Receiving “no’s” from the Lord is part of discerning His leading.
Line up your ducks
Make sure that you prepare all the necessary materials (e.g. position packet, application form) and have processes and timelines in place to help you stay on track. This will also help potential candidates develop an understanding of the values and expectations of your church (remember that you might be providing candidates with their first impressions of your church).
Search primarily along relational lines
Encourage people in the church to refer solid candidates. When possible, look within your congregation first. If you can hire from within, it can make the transition for the candidate (and his/her family) and the church so much easier.
Touch base with influential connectors
Who are the connectors in your denomination or network? Talk to them about your search. They may be able to provide some quality leads. In addition, advertise in places that your ideal candidate would likely visit.
Develop a scorecard for rating applicants