Churches Looking for a Pastor Must Learn from the Experiences of Others

Few will be involved in a pastoral transition so closely watched as Bethlehem’s transition from John Piper to Jason Meyer. However, there is still much that churches of all size and pastors considering transitions can learn from what they share about their transition.

One of the reasons the search for a new pastor is so challenging is that churches do it very infrequently – – – and if churches find themselves looking for a new pastor frequently, that’s a whole other problem. This means that rather than learning through their own experiences, churches looking for a pastor, and pastors looking for churches, must listen carefully to others.

In the below video, John Piper and Jason Meyer share their perspectives on the transition at Bethlehem. There is much that can be learned. Several points stood out to me when I watched the video.

  • The entire process was drenched with prayer. Question #1 on my checklist for churches looking for a pastor is a prayer list.
  • There was a process in place that was respected. Even when they both sensed God’s leading for Jason to be the next pastor, they allowed the process to play out with integrity. Here I would encourage readers to consider Ken Sande’s thoughts in this video.
  • Both John and Jason model how the process is not strictly objective nor subjective, but it combines a well thought out approach with a strong sense of the Holy Spirit leading.
  • The process was carefully designed in the context of Bethlehem.

For more, see Piper and Meyer Talk Succession for the First Time.

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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 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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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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