On occasion, I provide updates on issues and strategies regarding pastor search committees. Congregations across America call pastors to their churches in a variety of ways. As church polity varies, so do the approaches of calling a pastor. A bishop or other authority appoints some pastors. Sometimes an elder board decides who will be considered as the next pastor. Many times, however, the responsibility for recommending a pastor to a congregation falls upon a pastor search committee.
The search committee is typically comprised of lay leaders voted on by the congregation or nominated by some group in the church. Occasionally, the membership may include a current pastoral staff member.
It is this latter approach, the utilization of a pastor search committee, which I would like to address in this article. Specifically, I want to share the perspective of many pastors about the process. On numbers of occasions, pastors have shared with me some challenges they have experienced with search committees. In this article, I present them as five pleas from pastors.
- “Consider carefully how you first contact me.” It can be highly disruptive to my present ministry if you just show up at my church. And remember that if you send an email to me at my church, others may read it.
- “Please stay in touch with me.” I can feel like I am in limbo if I don’t hear anything from you for a long time. I would rather be told that you are moving in another direction than not to hear anything.
- “If I am called to your church, please let the congregation know the issues you and I agreed upon.” For example, if you are letting me hire my own staff rather than it going through a personnel committee, please let the church know this change is taking place before you present me.
- “Clarify both the strengths and the challenges of the church before I come.” Do your best so I will not be surprised by the major struggles and challenges. I can deal with them better if I know about them in advance.
- “Understand that if I come to the church, my entire family will be a part of the transition.” So please talk to my spouse about the issues, challenges, and opportunities. Include the entire family, not just me.
At any given time in a year, as many as 50,000 congregations are searching for a pastor. The implications of the challenges and possible misunderstandings are many. These pleas from pastors are sound and reasonable.
Let me know what you think about these five pleas. Next week, I will address the pleas of search committee members to pastors.
Stay tuned . . .