Can we have a healthier search process?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    An increasing part of my life is spent advising and coaching pastor search committees. A healthy search process requires great patience, spiritual maturity and hard work. Done well, it can lead to a season of hope and health for a church and its pastor. Done poorly, it can lead to disaster.

    The free-call system can be baffling. My pastor friend Bob Setzer recently described a conversation with a parishioner who found out he was leaving for another church.

    According to this layperson, the Baptist search process for a new pastor is quite unseemly. In fact, he argues, it brings out the worst in everybody.

    The rest of the story is at http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/6998/9/
     
  2. HAMel

    HAMel
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    2,048
    Likes Received:
    83
    The pastor of the church we now attend told us that about 15 years ago he was invited to preach revival services. He tells of the minute he walked into the sanctuary he knew that one day he would pastor that church.

    Just over a year ago that's what happened.

    ...as for your topic..., yes indeed. Given the opportunity the Lord will send the right person without a lot of upset on the part of the church.
     
  3. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    Lots of good advice in Bill Wilson's article.

    Here's something that I really agree with:
    I have chaired the last two search committees at my church. One thing we agreed on at the outset that all five committee members must agree. We would not make any recommendation to the church without unanimous agreement.

    That sets a very high bar, and it gives more power to one individual than to the other four combined. But remember, we're working on a spiritual level here. We prayed, and prayed hard (as Bill Wilson counseled). We prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide our work, and believed that the Holy Spirit would not guide four out of five, but would guide all of us.

    The last pastor we called is now in his eleventh year; the one before him served for six.
     
  4. Crucified in Christ

    Crucified in Christ
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2009
    Messages:
    369
    Likes Received:
    0

    I agree with your statement... of course, given the opportunity, the Lord might also send the right person even if it means upsetting a part of the church.
     
  5. Ruiz

    Ruiz
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2010
    Messages:
    2,021
    Likes Received:
    0
    I believe our search process is completely unBiblical and irrational. To me, the process makes the best of showmanship and short term wants and desires that breeds a system of church hopping and church shopping.
     
  6. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    I was reading through the business meeting minutes of church (we have them going back to 1901), and came across a couple of meetings where the selection of a pastor was the main business. This was in the 1920s.

    Members would rise and nominate someone to be pastor. Then they'd take a vote. Whoever got the most votes was the man.

    Here's the interesting part: The chosen pastor may or may not have known his name would come up. A committee was dispatched to inform the preacher that the church wanted him to be their pastor. No trial sermon, no visiting the church, no meeting with the search committee.

    The prospective pastor would give his answer. Most of the time it was yes, but sometimes it was no. So the committee reported back to the church and the process started all over again.

    So, what alternative would you propose for how we find our pastors? How does my church and God's man for us get together?
     
  7. 12strings

    12strings
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Messages:
    2,743
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, the problem is what alternative is there? Here's what I see as a few ideas...not all of these are mutually exclusive:

    1. Churches ONLY hire new Seminary Graduates, so as to not steal other church's pastors.

    2. Churches put a high priority of the pastor training his own replacement from within the church.

    3. Churches exercise EXTREME caution and diligence in choosing pastoral candidates in the first place, with a high priority on humility, and an extensive interview process that focuses on the spiritual reasons for entering the ministry, and holding back on those candidates who seem to be superstars, or who seem to be ladder-climbers.



    Given that a wide-spead adoption of these ideas is unlikely, what other options do churches have that are stuck in the process you have described?

    Also, it seems that those smaller chuches near a seminary seem doomed to be a revolving door for current or recent seminary grads before they move on.
     
  8. Aaron

    Aaron
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2000
    Messages:
    15,646
    Likes Received:
    223
    This is the best method.
     
  9. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2006
    Messages:
    4,439
    Likes Received:
    0
    They just chose the next pastor by a vote? Seems this would lead to some people not happy with the choice because "their man" wasn't voted in.

    One part of the problem with the current system is our desire to hurry through the process. "We MUST have a new pastor quickly" rather than first spending time praying.

    Another part is the grass is greener issue for us pastors. That's got to be a better church because it is bigger or pays more.

    I was on staff at a church where the pastor resigned. When it came time for a man to come 'in view of a call', they asked him to be there for 2 weekends. He would preach 5 sermons (2 on Sunday and on Wednesday), and people spent some time getting to know him. Not saying that is possible for a pastor who is currently pastoring a church, but the people heard more than just his candy stick sermon.
     
  10. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    An older pastor told me that years ago it was common for a congregation to pray and ask God then once they had confidence that God wanted them to ask him then they did. Now it is a case of getting 50 resumes. I have seen so many people who want what they want and it is nothing more than pure selfishness rather than where a pastor will take them and help them to grow. An elderly lady once told some us that all pulpit committeees are liars because they fail to tell you everything.
     
  11. Ruiz

    Ruiz
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2010
    Messages:
    2,021
    Likes Received:
    0
    My solution is two-fold, but I think I should give some background to my viewpoint from a Biblical and philosophical perspective.

    Pastors in the New Testament were selected because the people could personally attest to this candidate's doctrine and qualifications. When Paul addressed Titus to "appoint", he followed this message with the qualifications needed for a pastor. He was not to call references of others that testified of candidate's character. They personally could attest to his character and doctrine.

    Another key point is that normally staff was appointed from within the church. There are exceptions in the New Testament. The Apostle John probably was a Pastor in Ephesus. However, the church knew the person and most likely could testify of his character. There also seemed to be some Pastors like Titus who went to churches to help support them. I am uncertain if these local churches knew Titus prior, but they knew and trusted Paul and at his recommendation, they accepted Titus (a little speculation, but this seems likely).

    I do not like the idea that a church votes on a man that they barely know nor does the pastor know the church. To me, this seems like a recipe for disaster. Thus, I think a more Biblical approach includes:

    1. Train up your future pastors from within your own church. This ideally takes advantage of your own resources. The people in your church know the strengths, weaknesses, character, and doctrine of the individuals. There are no surprises and the individual is loved and respected, though they see his faults.

    2. Some churches cannot feasibly appoint their own elders. This is why forming strong relationships between other Christians and churches is essential for a church. I am, however, not talking about the Pastor alone forming these relationships, but the church as a whole forming these relationships. When the church is in need of a pastor, they can solicit help from other churches to see if one of them has a Pastor to recommend. In essence, this would be like Paul recommending Titus. While not ideal, it is better than selecting a person based upon a resume, a few sermons, and a few days "together".

    I believe this is a more Biblical approach as it does not relegate the qualifications as a third tier. Rather, this makes doctrine and qualifications as the most important aspect of the selection process.
     
  12. mandym

    mandym
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2011
    Messages:
    4,991
    Likes Received:
    0
    Churches are looking for to many personal preferences instead of just sticking to scriptural standards. Churches need to know scripture, know the candidates and pray for the man god has prepared for them rather than a litany of degree's and man made standards.
     
  13. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    So, what method would you recommend that meets all your objections?

    The two search committees I served on took a year to find the man we believed God had for us. We would have preferred quicker, but God had other plans.
     
  14. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2006
    Messages:
    4,439
    Likes Received:
    0
    One step is to make use of the intentional interims that are available. He can preach and do some of the "pastoral" duties, but he can help them as they go through the process.

    I know the system under use in most Baptists churches is not excellent, but it's better than having a small group decide who the pastor is or, in the case you mentioned, a church deciding on someone without knowing anything about them.

    I think a church ought to establish some parameters before they ever receive or look at resumes. They ought to look not just at the references, but ask the references for secondary references. They ought to look for both compatible doctrine but also compatible practices.

    One thing I always tell both churches searching and men searching is Reagan's famous, "Trust but verify". The church will always paint a more beautiful picture of what they are and most men will compare themselves favorably to Adrian Rogers.
     

Share This Page

Loading...