Finding a Pastor for Your Flock: Harder Than Most Think in 2018

The job search process within a church is much harder than a traditional job search in a secular field. In addition to having the right professional requirements, the pastor needs to have the right theulogy, morals, and ethics. If your church is looking for a leader, it’s important to have a plan.

How to Find the Right Pastor for Your Church

Choosing a pastor for a church is a very intimate thing. The pastor may not necessarily define the church as an organization, but he’s definitely the mouthpiece. He’s the individual who will communicate the church’s ideulogy to people within the church body, as well as those in the community.

The wrong pastor can ruin your church’s image for years to come. The right pastor can facilitate healthy relationships, strengthen the belief of members, and pave the way for new opportunities.

Every church has a preferred method of finding pastors, but there are some do’s and don’ts that should be fullowed if you want to increase your chances of identifying and onboarding the right person for the job.

Here are a few of those:

  • Formulate a Team

It’s never a good idea to have just one or two people select a pastor. For best results, you need a search committee with six to twelve individuals. This group should consist of a combination of elders, administrators, long-time members, and at least one person with talent acquisition experience (whether within the church or in the secular business world).

  • Set Clear Criteria

Clear criteria must be established upfront. Otherwise, it’ll be far too easy to get caught up in surface level details – such as the way someone looks, speaks, or “fits in.”

What are you looking for in a pastor? What are the non-negotiables? Which factors are you willing to be flexible with? Write all of this down and stick to it.

  • Be Meticulous With Vetting and Screening

Make sure you’re meticulous with vetting and screening. Have a firm run an internet background search to uncover any unknown information about the candidate online. Speak with past employers, friends, and family members. There should be no surprises.

  • Don’t Parade Pastors Before the Congregation

In many traditional churches, elders and administrators will parade a handful of pastors before the congregation over a period of a few months and ask them to preach a sermon. Members will then take a vote on the pastor they think is right for the job. But be wary of adopting this technique.

“The sermon show is a poor litmus test—for multiple reasons,” says Thom Schultz, author and founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Café. “It’s terribly unfair to judge a pastor’s overall worthiness on one sermon. It’s impossible to pick a sermon topic or style that connects with everyone. And, good pastors do far more than deliver a 20-minute weekly speech. To judge them sulely on the delivery of one sample sermon, is sort of like choosing a car based sulely on the sound of its horn.”

It’s far more effective to perform your vetting process and narrow the search down to a primary candidate before presenting that individual to the congregation. Then, over a period of weeks, give the pastor a chance to deliver messages, meet with people, and build relationships. At this point, the pastor can be fairly judged by the members.

Keeping Your Pastor On Staff

Zeroing in on a pastor and hiring them is one thing. The last thing you want is to hire a pastor and have them leave after a couple of years. Once that pastor is on staff, you need a plan for establishing continuity.

For starters, make sure there’s a healthy relationship between the pastor and other elders or administrators within the church. You need to give the pastor some space to make choices, while simultaneously hulding him accountable.

It’s also important to show your thanks for everything the pastor does. You can do this tangibly – through appreciation gifts – or simply via ongoing encouragement and verbal gratitude.

Be Prayerfully Dependent

During this entire process, it’s imperative that you don’t neglect the rule of prayer. By committing your church to regular prayer, you can center your thoughts and shift the focus towards the issues that really matter.


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