Pastor Search Team Help: Job Descriptions

Search Team Help: Pastor Job Descriptions

William Faulkner famously said that writing a novel is like building a chicken coop in high wind—you grab any board you find and nail it down fast.

In trying to find a pastor, it seems that many churches develop a job description for their next pastor using the same approach. When frazzled pastoral search committees realize they don’t have a job description for pastoral candidates to consider, they pound Google and cut and paste what they need from the over one million hits. Search committee members or elders tweak the pastoral job description with a few items that they feel the previous pastor was deficient in and the job description is final.

While no one can argue with the results of Faulkner’s writing, his approach of nailing down whatever he could find doesn’t work so well for developing a pastoral job description. Churches that only throw a job description together in the high wind of what they find on the Internet miss a valuable opportunity.

A far better approach to developing a pastoral job description would be for the church elders to lead a Bible study or sermon series, which develops a job description for the next pastor from Scripture. While it will certainly take more time than downloading something from the Internet, it will build unity and momentum for the church as they take ownership for the biblical job description for a pastor.

Besides, building a job description for your next pastor is not as difficult as you might think. Those who will take the time to read through the pastoral epistles (1, 2 Timothy, Titus) will be able to quickly identify priorities for pastoral office. Additionally, a Bible study that examines what it means to “shepherd the flock” will get everyone involved focuesed on realistic expectations for the next pastor.

As I wrote in, When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search, “The over-arching metaphor the New Testament gives of a pastor is that he needs to be a shepherd. Indeed, the term ‘pastor’ means ‘shepherd.’ The image of shepherding is used throughout the Scriptures to refer to biblical leadership (Isaiah 53:6-7; Jeremiah 3:15; 23:1-4; Matthew 9:35-38; Luke 15:3-7). Christ Himself is called the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4), and the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20)!”

This is why we have written across the top of my pastoral job description this paragraph.

The New Testament envisions a pastor as shepherding the flock (1 Peter 5:1-4). He is called to lead and feed God’s people in a particular local context. Passages like Acts 6, 1 Timothy 4:1 ff, Titus 2:1, Titus 1:5, and 2 Timothy 2:1-2 stress that prayer, ministry of the Word, and leadership development should be first priorities. He should lead as the first among equals.

Given that one of my goals for this post is to discourage copying and pasting a job description from the Internet, I won’t give the rest of it for now. But it may be useful to know that my job description is organized under the sub-headings of:

(1) Qualifications: According to Scripture, what should a pastor be?
(2) Responsibilities: According to Scripture, what should a pastor do?
(3)Working relationships: To whom is the pastor accountable?

Your Thoughts

What passages of Scripture have you discovered to be useful to study in developing a pastoral job description?

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5 Responses to Pastor Search Team Help: Job Descriptions

  1. Dar VanderArk says:

    Should item (2) read ” … what should a pastor do?”

    As the chairman of our Board of Elders, I purchased a copy of “When the Word Leads …” a few months ago, for each Elder and our Pastor, in anticipation of our pastor of 26 years hinting that he was thinking of retiring in 2 or 3 years. Great response for all – including our Pastor. On Sunday he informed the Elders that he intends to retire in 8 months! Thank you for the book. Though we have a difficult task before us, reading your book has provided us with a sense of peace that we already have a tool the lead us forward.

    • Chris Brauns says:

      Dar, Thanks for the comment. Yes, you’re right. It should read “do.” I fixed it. I’m thankful to hear the book was an encouragement.

  2. Dar VanderArk says:


    Any suggested resources to assist our Board of Elders in leading a congregation-wide Bible Study which develops a Scriptural Job Description?

    • Chris Brauns says:

      I would just do a Bible study on the book of Titus. That will cover so much.

      I don’t know of any resources right off hand. Dive into Titus.

  3. Ed Dannemiller says:

    We are a Bible Church with no affiliation and are looking for a new pastor. We as elders and the search committee have read your book and are ready to let God’s Word lead our search and see our responsibility ready to commit the time it will take to do this, but in your book you mention the possibility of getting help from a consultant to help advise us. Any suggestions you recommend?

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