First-ever pastoral search interview

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by ichthys, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. ichthys

    ichthys
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    I am going to talk to a search committee this weekend for the first time ever.
    I am getting into my fourth year of seminary, so I've heard of some things to do: I've prayed :thumbs:, I've checked the annual state convention reports for the church's name, I've googled, altavistaed, yahooed, and dogpiled it beyond recognition. I don't know any current pastors from the area/association to ask anything about. I found the former pastor's name but can't find any other info on the internet about him.

    Do you experienced pastors or search committee interviewees out there know of any other sources of objective information about specific churches? I'm sure I can find subjective information this weekend at all three of the convenience stores and restaurants in the town where the church is. :tongue3: I probably know enough to know where to start to ask questions, but it's always nice to know more, isn't it?
     
  2. PastorSBC1303

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    I would talk to the Director of Missions for the Association.

    I would also ask the Pastor Search Committe for the information on the last 2 pastors and I would personally talk to them and ask questions.

    Do your homework. There are way too many bad churches out there and you do not want to get in the middle of a hornet's nest.
     
  3. North Carolina Tentmaker

    North Carolina Tentmaker
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    It sounds like you are well prepared ichthys. PastorSBC’s advice is good as well. You need to ask about former pastors and how to contact them. Don’t forget that the canidating process works both ways. The search committee is about to become your largest source of information. Have specific questions ready for them.

    Just walking around the church can tell you a lot. What is hanging on the walls? What books are on the shelves in the pastor’s study? What is your impression of the general maintenance and cleanliness of the building?

    It sounds like you will do great. It is not that different than preaching a sermon. You prepare prepare prepare prepare, and then follow the spirit.
     
  4. ichthys

    ichthys
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    Thanks for the info guys.

    I thought about contacting the DOM but he's only been there a few weeks.
    I have heard someone say to contact the last two pastors but that seemed like "too far" like I wouldn't be trusting what the search committee was telling me (and what I learned from walking around and listening). I guess I need to know asap if I can trust the search committee though, right?

    I am definitely just seeing where the Spirit leads the whole while. After they get a fill of our kids on a Saturday, they might not even call us back. Or a fill of me, for that matter. :smilewinkgrin:
     
  5. PastorSBC1303

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    I would not say it is too far back at all. It really has nothing to do with trust. They want to know everything they can about you, and you should want to know everything you can about them.

    If the DOM has not been there long then find the name of a pastor in that association that has been there a while and ask him about the church.

    If they are not willing to give you the information on the last 2 pastors that would be a major red flag. And I personally would probably end the convesation and move in another direction.
     
  6. Tom Bryant

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    This may sound disillusioned and cynical. But I have seen too much of it in my ministry. Too many guys walk into their first church with their eyes wide SHUT. So you've done well so far.

    One thing I would add: Search Committees make false statements because they are trying to call a new pastor and they usually only see the good things.

    They may say that they want pastoral leadership, when they don't. They may say they want to reach the unchurched but will balk at letting the great unwashed iunto the church building and complain they are not being fed. They will also say that they have great fellowship because no new person has walked into their doors to disturb the status quo or because they only really make people like themselves feel welcome

    That's why it is important to get the independent info, speak to former pastors and ask lots of questions.

    But above all else, it's vitally important to know for sure if God is calling you to that place. If He is, you can work through the wrong statements.
     
  7. Lagardo

    Lagardo
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    Remember that as you hear information that every story has two sides. This is not so much that you are not hearing the truth from either a search team or a former pastor, but more that there are different perspectives, and its wise to get as many as you can.

    Also, seriously consider who is on the search team? Is it a good cross-section of the church? Are there any key leaders of the church missing? If there are any staff members, how involved are they in the search process?

    I have recently been through several search committees. My biggest piece of advice other than pray is to be yourself. It is only natural to want to say what you think the search team is looking for, but this is more than a job. This position will be your life. If you, as yourself, is not a fit, you wouldn't want to be there anyway.

    Remember that you are seeking one thing: Where God is leading you. A clear answer, (yes or no) is victory and worth being thankful for. You can learn and grow through this process, just allow God to lead you.
     
  8. ichthys

    ichthys
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    All of yall have been helpful. Thanks. I can see how all this interviewing would make someone cynical and burned out on people, though, it is A LOT of stuff to consider beforehand and afterhand.

    Timing question: I am just going for the first search committee interview this weekend. Would it be better to call some local pastors there and see what they know BEFORE this weekend (if I can, all of them being off on Friday :sleeping_2: ;) ) and call them as generic lil' ol' me just talking to the search committee, or would it be better to wait until AFTER this weekend, when I kind of have more of my foot in the door, not just seeming like some schlump off the street that no one knows. Well no one would still know me, but does it make sense what I'm saying? To ask around to people I don't know NOW or wait until the church and I can make some more determination about where we all want to go with it?

    Thanks for all your replies and advice.
     
  9. PastorSBC1303

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    I would do it asap.
     
  10. El_Guero

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    More of your foot in the door? Ok, I pray that was an oops . . . ;)

    It is good to know how badly the church walked on previous pastors. But, it is also good to know how badly the previous pastors walked over the church. Way too many pastors compromise on integrity.

    But, I wouldn't worry about knowing everything before hand, but I wouldn't commit to a decision this weekend.

    If they ask, tell them you would like two weeks to pray and seek God's will.

    God bless

    Wayne

     
  11. Revmitchell

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    I would also try to get a sense on how much they are relying on extra biblical methods for calling a pastor.

    Sometimes these become the priority over prayer, fasting and the word. Is the search comittee a human resource team or are they seeking Gods face for the man He wants rahter than what they want.

    Ask them if they have polled the church to see what they want in a pastor. Do they compensate the Pastor based on experience? Is the pastors compensation negotiable?

    These types of standards are extra biblical and quite honestly leave God out of the picture.

    Out of all the questions that can be asked, and all the people to be interviewed, nothing beats prayer and fasting and the Word! Relying on too much else gets in the way.
     
  12. Joseph M. Smith

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    Interesting perspective. But I think I would agree. Asking the people "what they want" is likely to become the blind leading the blind. You will either get "somebody just like dear old Rev. Soandso" (who does not exist) or "anything but that creep Soandso" (the pendulum swing phenomenon). If this search committee has really done its work, they will have a prayer-filled sense of the needs and possibilities of the church and will be looking for someone who can fulfill a vision rather than please the people.

    I also agree that compensation discussion should not be a "business" decision, where there is a game played on the basis of "how little can we get by with" vs. "how much can I get for this". They should have a stated salary, computed on the basis of what a fair compensation is for a decent standard of living in their area, and leave it at that. And you as the candidate should simply accept that statement and decide, as a part of your response if you are invited to take the position, that you can make it work.

    On another aspect of this thread, I think it would make sense for you to talk with a couple of other pastors AFTER your interview. You might pick up some things in the interview that you sense are not being dealt with forthrightly by the committee, and you could raise those points with your outside sources.
     
  13. Tom Bryant

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    Just thought of one question you need to ask them. What process are they following in calling a pastor.

    You mentioned that this is just the first interview. Has their list been narrowed down to 5 people and they're talking to all of them? Or are they going to do a beauty contest and have a group of candidates and the church choose between them. If it's a beauty contest, Run, don't walk away from the process. Even in a 2 candidate race, you will have a group of people who were for the other guy. So understand the process and the 'hoped for' time frame for their decision.
     
  14. gb93433

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    Do the homework. It will make things smoother.
    1. List of all of your responsibilities - including: church cleaning, mowing, shoveling, repairs, etc.
    - also including hours in office versus hours visiting and running (Church Business)

    2. Full salary package (salary, insurances, vacations, housing & car allowances, etc.)
    - also what they base salary increases on - attendance, increase in $$, Cost-of-Living, etc.

    3. Find out the openness to new ideas - updating P&W, OutReaches, etc.

    4. Attendance history for past 10 years

    5. Financial history and stability - including indebtedness

    6. Why the last Pastor is gone? and their track record with past Pastors.

    7. What percentage of the budget is spent on evangelism?

    8. Where do you want to grow and what percentage of the budget is spent on it?

    9. What is the role of the deacons?

    10. What is the role of the trustees?

    11. What is expected of my wife?

    12. How do you handle jury duty?

    13. How does a deacon bring ministry to people?

    The last question that I would ask is, "Are you willing to pay the necessary costs of the changes that you feel are necessary?" Nine times out of ten the board/committee will give the the Chamber of Commerce answer..."Yes." Be up front with them and help them wade through the costs of change (financially, spiritually, methodologically, etc.) When you get a chance to get the real leaders of the board/committee alone (you will know who they are by then) ask them the question again. Be sure and do this in the interviewing process. If the leaders say "Yes" to the question in private, then ask them how they think they can help in making it happen.


    Church Resume
    I. CHURCH

    A. What event has shaped your church most in the last ten years?

    B. How would you estimate the potential for reaching the unchurched there in the future?

    C. What is the seating capacity' of your sanctuary?

    D. When was the last time your church completed a building project?

    E. How fast did you pay off that debt? What is the total amount of your present
    indebtedness?

    F. What is your average weekly offerings? How much is that over last year ?

    G. What percentage of your church families would you estimate tithe their income
    locally? Board/leadership?

    H. What is the percentage make-up of your Sunday morning attendance
    ___Children ___Youth ___Young Adults ___Adults ___Middle-Aged
    ___Seniors

    I. What is the make-up of your membership
    ___Children ___Youth ___Young Adults ___Adults ___Middle-Aged
    ___Seniors

    J. What are your attendance patterns at meetings other than morning worship?

    K. What is the pastoral history of your church?
    Who were the pastors during the last 15-20 years?
    What single sentence would you give typifying the ministry of each, and reason for their
    leaving?

    L. Where does your church stand on the tongues issue? (Place an x on the following
    continuum.)
    ___________Strongly opposed __________ strongly favor

    M. What are some touchy issues with the people in your church... divorce, alcohol,
    tobacco, materialism, or others, which a pastor would need to use care in preaching
    about?

    N. Describe how your pastoral selection process' works. Will you interview only one
    person at a time, taking that person all the way to a vote for acceptance or rejection
    before initiating another interview? Or, will you interview a variety of candidates, hearing
    several before you decide which one to recommend? Do you plan on a "trial sermon"?
    Are you thinking of multiple interviews? Describe your process:

    O. What kind of programs beyond worship for all ages does your church presently have
    in place?

    P. What style of leadership typifies the desire of your church? (Place an x on the
    following continuum.)
    ___________Board leads___________Pastor leads

    Q. How would you typify the worship style of your congregation? (Place an X on the
    continuum)
    _____________Formal & orderly ____________Free and informal.

    R. How many people are weekly involved in organized scheduled outreach to the poor or
    the unchurched?

    S. How many converts would you say your church has seen in the last year?

    T. How would you typify the way your church treats visitors ?
    Extraordinarily
    ______warm______friendly_____reserved.

    II. COMMUNITY

    A. Describe your community in a short paragraph (population, prominent employers,
    general atmosphere and attitude.

    B. The church may do all of the following things, but all of them cannot take priority. What
    is your ranking of the following seven emphases in priority order (#1 highest, #2 next,
    etc.):
    __Missions __Worship __Fellowship __Preaching __Evangelism __Serving
    ___Teaching

    C. Finish this sentence... Our church is best known in this community for:

    D. What do you believe to be the most pressing need in your community right now?

    E. Describe the largest church in your community or surrounding area. What is it like and
    how are you different/similar.

    F. Over the last five years or so, when people have left your church, what did they say
    was the reason?

    G. What do you think were the primary reasons?

    H. What are the five biggest changes you would like to see happen in your church?

    I. How and when was your church started? By whom?

    J. Who do you feel has been your most ideal pastor'? Why?

    III. PASTORAL LEADERSHIP

    A. What do you believe are the most important priorities for your new pastor
    (#1 most important, #2 next most important, etc.)?
    __Time with family __Prayer __Visitation __Preparation for preaching
    __Counseling ____Administration ____Denominational/para-church work

    B. What are your weekly time expectations for your new pastor?
    (i.e. How many hours would you expect your pastor to spend each week in each of the
    following activities?)
    ___Time with family ___Visiting ___Counseling ___Prayer ___Preparation for
    preaching
    ___Administration ___Denominational/para-church work_

    C. What provisions do you make for the pastor's personal and professional growth?

    D. How would you typify the prayer support for your present pastor?

    E. What is the pastor's financial support package and the related matters of pension,
    health care, life insurance etc?

    F. What are the arrangements you make for a parsonage or housing allowance?

    G. What is the make-up of your present staff if you have such? If not, do you plan for
    staff?

    H. Some church boards expect to play an exceptionally strong role in the selection of
    assistant ministers and other staff. Others expect the senior pastor to "hire the staff."
    How do you believe staff should be added to the church?

    I. Do you make provisions or exceptions to the idea of the pastor's spouse serving on
    the paid staff at the church?

    J. Over the past fifteen years which pastor's spouse do you believe has functioned in a
    most ideal way? Why?

    IV. REFERENCES

    A. Your current or most recent pastor (name and telephone number)

    B. Immediately prior pastor (name and telephone number)

    C. Prior pastor (name and telephone number)

    D. Community person (someone familiar with your church, though not an attender)

    E. Denominational or para-church official who knows your church (name and telephone
    number)

    F. Recent special speaker who visited your church (name and telephone number)
     
  15. ichthys

    ichthys
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    I think I am probably the first one they called back, and we all have to pray and think about it, so I'm not in a big hurry. Their last pastor was listed in some obituaries fromo nearby towns on the internet just a month or two ago, so it apparently hasn't been long for them. The little I have found out seems to say he was well-liked and there a while (6 or 7 years), and they had a building program but not a lot of growth in numbers. Hopefully we can figure out more about the spiritual aspects this weekend.

    Thanks again for all the advice and things to look out for, good and bad.
     
  16. tinytim

    tinytim
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    These are questions that may be asked.

    · How and when did you become a Christian?
    · Why do you feel called to ministry?
    · What is your philosophy of ministry?
    · Why do you feel called to this church/ministry?

    · What do you know about our church? (Note: in the corporate world, this question is a test to see if you’ve done your homework. It’s the same way in the ministry world. At one church I know of, this is the defining question. If you don’t have something to say, the interview is over—no matter how strong your resume is. No church wants someone who’s just looking for a job. They want someone who can be as committed to the place as they are

    · What are your strengths?

    · In what areas do you need to grow?

    · What would you do in this situation—(fill in the blank)? (BTW, this question provides a huge clue to what has been an issue in the past. If they ask you questions about discipline or punctuality or communication, odds are, that was a problem for the previous pastor.)

    · What are your views on (fill in the blank)? (This could be anything from homosexuality to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. It all depends on the church and the agenda of the interviewers.)

    · Where do you see pastoral ministry going in the future?

    · What does a successful ministry look like?

    · What would you do in your first three months at our church?

    · What is your style of teaching, preaching?

    · What is your current salary package?

    · What is your view on mission trips (retreats, camps)?

    · Why do you want to leave your current situation? (By the way, when you’re asked about your present or past employer, say only positive things. The interviewers don’t want to know the dirt, and if you’re too negative, they’ll begin to wonder if they’d be hiring someone divisive.)

    The previous questions were emailed to me when I was considering a church, I want to add:

    How do you practice visitation, hospital visits, etc?


    1 question I always asked was,,,"what would you call a success in a year?"




     
  17. j_barner2000

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    frpm personal experience... We moved from AZ back to MI. sent 6 weeks with a church that was using us to get the guy who was pulpet supply/interrim to make a decision.

    They asked him and he said he was not sure, so they asked me to candidate, not giving me any of this info, and after 6 weeks held a "vote" after getting him to agree to pastor for them if they decided I was not the guy.

    needless to say, after I found out and spoke with their D.O.M. I was bothered to know he had an idea that this was their plan. It was against his advice and, I believe, wrong to withhold material info, but he did not inform me either.

    Be prayerful and careful. Dig into them like you would a passage of scripture. Be agressive about discerning God's will for yourself and the church.

    God is awesome. he will make His will known to us if we trust Him, and do a little kneework and legwork(or phonework...)




    I wish I'd had The list GB posted when I began ministry....
     
    #17 j_barner2000, Jul 27, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2006
  18. Tom Butler

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    Call the Association office and speak to the DOM's secretary. Many of them have been around a while and those that do know where all the bodies are buried.

    If the secretary can't or won't give you the information you need, she can tell you whom to talk to.
     
  19. El_Guero

    El_Guero
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    gb

    I like your list. The list is good to get a human perspective on where to begin doing God's work.

    But I like prayer and fasting more. Prayer and fasting and the will of Almighty God is what is needed most.

    IMO that is.

     
  20. ichthys

    ichthys
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    DOM's secretary? Good idea.
    Lots of other good ideas too.
    I haven't interviewed for a "real job" (just two parttime gigs) since we started seminary, and it's not about money, so I hadn't thought on the money aspects yet. As a newb, :tongue3: I hadn't even considered that I should think about all the jury duty/vacation/office hours/ other package details. If we all like each other Saturday, they say they will call me back to preach in a couple weeks, so no big hurry yet.

    Let's say both sides are continually interested and want to learn a lot about each other Saturday. How long should we expect this to last, typically? We will have young kids in tow. (Given that there is wide variation in "typical" in these things, what have you all experienced?)
     

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