pastor

Screening Applicants for a Pastoral Position

  • 18 July 2017
  • Randy Wollf

Holding documentsYou’ve put the word out about your need for a pastor and now the resumes have started rolling in. Perhaps panic has begun to set in as you realize the daunting challenge of choosing the right one. How do you discern which candidates to seriously consider based on their resumes? Once you have a shortlist of preferred candidates, how do you decide which one to call to meet the rest of the church?

In my blog called Tips for Successful Pastoral Searches, I suggest several ways that search committees can set up a search process to succeed. In this blog, I will focus on one part of the process—the actual screening of candidates—and make recommendations around three levels of screening.

First Level – Résumés

For this level, I would encourage you to develop a list of key qualifications for the position based on the position description. Then, assign a value to each one (you may choose to weigh some qualifications more heavily than others). For example, you might assign a value of 5 points to having a seminary degree and 10 points to previous related pastoral experience.

As résumés come in, it is relatively easy to measure the candidate against what the group has already decided are the key metrics. Depending on the number of applications, each member of the search committee can assess each applicant (and then average the scores) or the committee chair can assign résumés to individual committee members (it’s helpful to have at least two people assess each applicant to minimize individual biases).

Sometimes, it’s easy for search committee members to get distracted by an outstanding or underwhelming part of a résumé. Using this approach helps committee members to objectively evaluate all the important pieces, producing a more holistic appraisal of a candidate’s suitability. 

Second Level – Assessments

Betrayed by Busyness

  • 4 May 2017
  • Keith Reed

Blur of busynessBusyness is the hymn of our age. Our mantra, our anthem, our expectation.  

Unless you’re Eugene Peterson. 

Peterson defines "busy" as the symptom not of commitment but of betrayal. Busy pastors are not demonstrating devotion; they are exercising defection [1]. 

Peterson first published these words in 1981, but ministry professionals have hardly heeded his counsel. As I think of the pastors I know and when I reminisce on my time in that role, I don’t believe there’s a more fitting descriptor for the state of the pastorate than busy. The demands of church ministry are rising, the focus of parishioners is dwindling, and the results of our disciple-making efforts are plateauing [2]. Is it any wonder then, that our typical response is to increase our labour and fill our calendars with more? 

Peterson reveals two causes for his own busyness and he describes each as ignoble: 

I am busy because I am vain 

Peterson draws a connecting line between busyness and the allure of success and his comparison speaks even louder today. In a recent United States study, researchers found that a busier person is thought to have higher status [3]. This may explain why free time is frantically consumed by fruitless activity—perhaps it is this perception that fuels our resistance to be still.  

I worked at a golf and country club for several years when I was a young adult. The course was only closed two days a year, so there were many poor-weather-days when I was left with almost nothing to do. But my boss loved to remind us that we weren’t being paid to do nothing, so I learned how to develop endless ways to appear busy. I once overheard my boss tell a co-worker, “You can’t just stand there even if there’s nothing to do. Do what Keith does—he always looks busy.” It didn’t take long for me to discover it was more valuable to look busy than to do something productive. If I don’t consciously fight against this false value, I fall into the trap of doing busy work instead of important work.  

I am busy because I am lazy 

Laziness breeds busyness despite masking itself as an unlikely precursor. Peterson explains that when pastors allow others to decide their schedule, they become slaves to unnecessary assignments that detract from their core responsibilities. Many pastors will accept these tasks as part of their jobs, but Peterson offers a different perspective: when pastors abdicate their essential work, it’s an indication of their propensity to cater to the desires of others and their unwillingness to stand up for the priorities of the pastorate. 

5 Ways to Mobilize Children into Ministry

  • 23 February 2017
  • Randy Wollf

children runningDuring my years as a children’s pastor and now as a parent of four children, I have become a huge fan of helping kids develop a servant heart. In this blog, I will share five ways that parents, children’s ministry workers, and friends of children, can mobilize children into ministry.

1. Believe that Children Can and Must Serve

We sometimes assume that children can only make a small contribution to the church. Yet, Jesus Himself pointed to children as exemplars of a simple faith—a mustard-seed-kind-of-faith that can move mountains.

Children often have a wholesome naiveté and are not intimidated by others. I still remember when my oldest son was three years-old. We were walking by a tough-looking guy sitting on a chair on the sidewalk. Before we could say anything, Caleb had jumped up on the guy’s lap and was chatting with him like he was an old friend.

Children are often eager to learn and try new things. What an opportunity to instill the value of serving others! The habits they establish now can last a lifetime.

If we say that every believer is an integral member of the body of Christ, it follows that all members—including children—are absolutely necessary. If children are not using their gifts and abilities to build up the body, the body suffers. It is imperative that we believe that children can and must serve.

2. Cultivate a Ministry Heart

One of the simple things we have done over the years with our kids is to invite them to serve with us. Whether it was helping stack chairs at the church or moving with our older kids into a refugee housing project (see the Do Something blog about this experience), we recognized that kids are quick to follow the examples of others.