13 Questions That Every Pastor Search Committee Should Be Prepared to Ask

13 Questions Every Pastor Search Committee Should Be Prepared to Ask

Interviewing potential pastors is a difficult task. I’ve been on both sides of the interview table. I’ve been the one asking the questions, and I’ve been on the receiving end of interview questions too. I’ve asked, and been asked, both good and bad questions.

Paul said to Timothy, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16)

Here are 13 questions – a baker’s dozen – that every church looking for a pastor should be prepared to ask. They deal with the pastor’s heart, head, and hands.

Heart (Life) Questions – “Keep a close watch on yourself”

1. How has God humbled you?
2. What are your greatest joys? What are your greatest struggles and temptations?
3. What are some joys and challenges you’ve experienced in your marriage and with your children?
4. What are your personal disciplines for spending time in the Word and in prayer?

It’s important to get a sense of the candidate’s heart. Tim Keller says, “What you most need in a leader is someone who has been broken by the knowledge of his or her sin, and even greater knowledge of Jesus’ costly grace.” Churches need pastors who have been humbled by their need of salvation, and awed by God’s grace.

Head (Doctrine) Questions – “Keep a close watch on…the teaching”

5. What have you been learning about God in the past year?
6. What is the gospel?
7. Who are your favorite authors and books?
8. How has your theology changed in the past five years?
9. What is the greatest need of the North American church?

Chris Brauns says that articulating the gospel “should be a belt-high fastball that he hits into the upper deck.” Churches need pastors who understand the gospel and its implications for the entire Christian life. Pastors should show evidence that they’re growing in their knowledge of what God has revealed and why this matters to the church.

Hand (Skill) Questions

10. Do you tend to focus more on people or on tasks?
11. What are your greatest accomplishments and failures in ministry?
12. What are your goals in ministry?
13. When do you tend to move on to a new challenge?

Skill is not as important as a candidate’s life and doctrine, but it’s still important. A good candidate should understand what he’s good at, and what he’s not. He should have a sense of calling, and show some evidence of skill in ministry.

There are many more questions that a search committee needs to ask, but every search committee should be prepared to ask these questions. Churches need pastors who have hearts that have been touched by God’s grace, heads that are growing in the knowledge of God, and hands that are ready to serve the church.

Thanks to Darryl Dash for this week’s guest post. To hear more from Darryl, visit his blog at www.dashhouse.com or follow him on Twitter @theDashHouse.

Your Thoughts
What are some other questions that every search committee should be prepared to ask?

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22 Responses to 13 Questions That Every Pastor Search Committee Should Be Prepared to Ask

  1. Janie Holmes says:

    We are just eginning our pastoral Search Committee and I found these questions insightful and helplful.

  2. Hemmy says:

    just as janie said in her response of feb 16, 2013 …. we are just beginning the pastoral search process. our pastor of 37 years will step down in a few months – moving on his path of retirement from pastor of the church to ministries that God will lead him into – we’ve no doubts that he will continue to minister – it will be exciting to see how the Lord leads him. likewise, it will be exciting to see how the Lord will guide our steps in the search process. we’ve no doubt that He is already preparing the heart, mind, hands of the right person to step into shepherding this flock. your questions here are helpful to me, as ch. moderator – as i work with our congregation to a} define who we are as a church {realistically – not ideally!!!}; b} as we ascertain what traits/talents/gifts/abilities are needed in our specific situation {conversely, what areas of ministry are not as vital for the pastor – due to the gifts of our members} …. it is indeed challenging – these coming months. but we trust that God will guide us as we take the first steps – committing the process, the needs to prayer.

  3. david akong says:

    Hi, I’m writing you from NGN AFRICA. Pls I got a vision from the Lord to go into church interviews in Nigeria, its all about members of the church getting to know who really their pastor is, his calling into God’s vineyard, family life,his goals and mission of the church. Please I should be starting this in April this year. I really need your help on this. You may feel free to call me +2348036444959 or +2348109139033 or +2348156232316, I will be most grateful if you can put me through on this. Thanks and GOD bless you. David Akong

  4. Jody Hart says:

    We are beginning a search soon. One question whose answer that will speak volumes of where this candidate is founded would be: “What five books or authors of the last 20 years would you recommend to your congregation to read.” This gets away from potentially rehearsed answers. I think that we will get a real sense of who is influencing the candidate in his own journey.

  5. Andrew Manchester says:

    Our pastor had to retire suddenly due to health issues, so we are scrambling. Thank you for the great questions.

    • Chris Brauns says:

      Andrew, thanks for the encouragement. I am sorry to hear about your pastor. I pray that God will grant you great wisdom and discernment. Let me know if you need some input – — cdbrauns (@ sign) gmail.com

      • Marilyn says:

        Hello Mr. Chris Brauns,
        Could you me share with me some of the possible pastor
        wife interview questions that should be or will be ask during the interview process?
        Thank you

  6. Pingback: If you must interview pastor candidates consult these resources — Transition Ministries Group

  7. Pingback: The Need for Pastoral Transparency: Some Personal and Biblical Reflections | ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (in Christ Jesus)

  8. Charlotte Garst says:

    We are getting a search committee together to find a new pastor. Most of the questions were very interesting. There is one that I think important, which is, how do you feel about keeping records regarding your expenditures and not getting reimbursed without the receipts.

  9. PJ Tibayan says:

    Other question I’d suggest they ask (not exactly a question): Describe how you are held accountable by others in your life. Share a time you were corrected by someone else and how you initially responded.

  10. PJ Tibayan says:

    Another question I’d suggest they ask (not exactly a question): Describe how you are held accountable by others in your life. Share a time you were corrected by someone else and how you initially responded.

  11. Alfred Kibunja says:

    The church council of my church tasked me to chair a committee mandated to search for a Senior Pastor as our current one retires this year. Our long serving pastor has attained the mandatory retirement age and wishes to handover to another. I find these questions very appropriate and helpful in focusing the process.

  12. james says:

    is it right for a preacher to run down or talk bad about other churches or pastors

  13. Rick Taylor says:

    I was asked to serve on a search committee for the first time yesterday morning heading in to church. I have prayed and have begun to learn. Thank you for posting. Please lift our church, current and future, up in prayer. I pray Jesus will lead and make obvious to us whom He chooses throughout the process.

  14. Glenn Johnson says:

    Chris ; I am a fairly new Elder at our church, have been on nominating committees before. Pastoral search is a new adventure. We have an Awesome young lead pastor and have found it time to build him a strong God centered team and are presently searching for an associate pastor to come along side. Thank you for these questions as I believe they pertain to any pastor. Again, thank you.

    Glenn J

  15. Sherry Brooks says:

    I just had to comment, my husband and I have been in ministry for 30 years, pastoring for the past 25 of them. It amazes me the questions you want to ask “The Pastor”, but I think it’s only fair, if the Pastor gets to ask the leadership of that church the same questions. Several times going to a new church, we later found out some of the main leadership of the church was not saved. To the leadership, the search committee, the deacons, and other leadership, I ask these questions.

    1. How much time do you spend in prayer for the Pastor, his family and your church?
    2. How much time do you spend in God’s Word on a daily basis?
    3. Are you a FAITHFUL tither?
    4. When was the last time you went to visit the sick and prayed for them?
    5. How do you handle a situation when your in disagreement with the Pastor?
    6. If the church calls for a time of fasting and prayer, can I expect you as leaders be the first to sign up and participate?
    Well, these are some, the point is, it’s not the job of a God-ordained, man of God to follow the sheep, He is to lead, and lead by love, and to follow His example. I pray that any Church that is in need of a Pastor commits as much time in prayer and fasting as they do the searching. We need good Pastors, and we need even better congregations!
    God Bless

    • Not perfect says:

      This was a good answer, God gives us pastors after his own heart and people should follow him as he follows Christ! Not that a pastor is always right but its our responsible to pray for him or her!

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  17. Titus Sulai Ibrahim says:

    This will help us in our search for a potential pastor. Thanks, I’m blessed.

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