There are a wide variety of books available on pastor searches, if you know where to find them. This is a list of many of the resources I have found helpful over the years.
Leading the Pastoral Search
The books below focus on procedure or the actual steps taken to call a pastor and are helpful in that regard. They spend very little time considering biblical teaching about pastoral office or how to evaluate preaching.
An asterisk (*) designates the four books I would recommend reading first among the recommended books for forming pastoral search committees.
*9 Marks eJournal on Pastoral Transitions. 9 Marks recently published an excellent eJournal dealing exclusively with pastoral transitions.
In Search Of A Leader The Complete Search Committee Guidebook by Robert W. Dingman. Dingman heads his own executive search firm. This book is helpful with the process and procedures of calling a leader, although not with surveying what the Bible teaches about shepherding and preaching.
Searching for a Pastor the Presbyterian Way: A Roadmap for Pastor Nominating Committees by Dean Foose. Written by Dean Foose, a Presbyterian minister who served as the Director of Alumni Relations and Placement at Princeton Theological Seminary, this book may be helpful from a process or procedures standpoint, especially for Presbyterians.
*Ask… Seek… Knock: A Step-by-Step Guide for Pastoral Transitions by Ken Moberg. Moberg is a district leader for the Evangelical Free Church of America. His objective is to write a step-by-step guide for the process of calling a pastor. A CD is available which supplements this book. It provides sample letters and other documents which pastoral search committees can adapt for their own purposes.
*The Perfect Search by Tommy W. Thomas. The author has decades of experience with an executive search form. Thomas takes his wisdom in the field of human resources and brings it to bear on a search for just the right leader. Many of the principles in areas such as “behavioral interviewing” will be helpful to pastoral search committees. This book does not target pastoral searches in particular and so makes no attempt to interact with biblical teaching.
Confirming the Pastoral Call: A Guide to Matching Candidates and Congregations by Joseph L. Umidi. The thrust of what Umidi argues for how churches should call the right pastors is by making the right match. In order to call the right pastor, local churches need to discover who they are as a church, and understand a potential pastor, so that they can pair the right church with the right pastor.
*Choosing a New Pastor: The Complete Handbook by Henry A. Virkler. This is a general resource for pastoral search committees which will help committees with the process and procedures of calling a pastor though not with biblical teaching. Virkler provides a helpful summary of mistakes that pastoral search committees often make.
The Elephant in the Boardroom: Speaking the Unspoken about Pastoral Transitions (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series) by Carolyn Weese and J. Russell Crabtree. Weese and Crabtree’s goal is to encourage churches to plan for a transition from their current pastor. It is written from a business management point of view. This book may be better suited for large churches. This book is helpful in encouraging churches to have a transition plan before it is needed.
Determining Compensation and Benefits
Every church needs to understand the proper way to put together a compensation package for the pastor. The resources from Church Law Today are thorough and very helpful.
2010 Church & Clergy Tax Guide by Richard Hammar. This book is a tremendous resource for understanding how to put together a new pastor’s compensation package, and for how different tax laws apply to your church. It is published by Church Law Today and is available from http://store.churchlawtodaystore.com/.
The 2010-2011 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff This handbook shares a salary survey broken down by a number of different factors including church size, income, budget, and geographical setting. It is published by Church Law Today and is available from http://store.churchlawtodaystore.com/ .
The Pastor and His Salary Package by James Rickard. Available from http://www.baptistbulletin.org/?p=2223.
Rickard has decades of experience with determining pastoral compensation; and this is a concise and helpful article on the topic.
Being Unified as a Church and Resolving Conflict
Unfortunately, it is often true that churches are looking for a pastor because the previous pastor left amid conflict. If true healing is to take place, then biblical principles of forgiveness and peacemaking must be implemented before the pastoral search can advance in a Word-centered way.
Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds by Chris Brauns. One of the major goals of my book Unpacking Forgiveness was that it would be a resource for local churches working through conflict. I pray that the chapter, “What if Christians cannot agree?” will be helpful to many churches who have been forced to say good-bye to a pastor in the midst of conflict.
What Is a Healthy Church? by Mark Dever. This is an affordable, brief and readable introduction to biblical teaching about the local church. It makes an ideal study for churches in transition who wish to re-establish a New Testament vision for a healthy local church.
Twelve Challenges Churches Face by Mark Dever. First Corinthians was written to a very conflicted church. Dever’s expositional thoughts show how being Christ and Cross centered can help a church move forward together in a unified way.
The Peace Maker by Ken Sande. If I could recommend only one resource on working through conflicts, it would be Ken Sande’s The Peace Maker. It contains a wealth of practical information on how to work through conflict resolution. Sande and the organization he founded, Peacemaker Ministries, have decades of experience in working through conflict resolution, and this book is a gold mine of practical advice. See also www.hispeace.org.
One of my primary objectives in this book has been to argue for the foundational importance of preaching. If you wish to learn more about biblical preaching, the below books offer a good beginning point.
If you are not looking for a textbook on preaching, but do want to grow in understanding why preaching is so central in the life of the church, then begin with Mohler’s book. T. David Gordon’s book is concise and will also be a direct help to pastoral search committees.
An asterisk (*) designates the three books I would recommend reading first among the recommended books for evaluating preaching.
Spirit Empowered Preaching: Involving the Holy Spirit in Your Ministry by Arturo G. Azurdia. If you wish to learn more about how a sermon should be “fired,” i.e., a sermon that is preached with unction or Spirit-empowered boldness, this is the book to read.
*Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers by T. David Gordon. Gordon dissects the problems with much of contemporary preaching and offers suggestions for how we can improve. If you wish to be better equipped to evaluate sermons, read this book and pay careful attention to the particular section about how sermons should be evaluated (pages 22-28).
Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell. Chapell is the president of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, and this is one of the best books available on expository preaching overall.
Faithful Preaching: Declaring Scripture with Responsibility, Passion and Authenticity by Tony Merida. Merida’s recently-published book is another excellent broad resource on biblical preaching.
*He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World Mohler, R. Albert. Mohler explains why “the audacious claim of Christian preaching is that the faithful declaration of the Word of God, spoken through the preacher’s voice, is even more powerful than anything music or image can deliver”. This is a stirring call for biblical preaching that needs to be heard.
*Expository Listening: A Practical Handbook for Hearing and Doing Gods Word by Ken Ramey. Ramey has written an excellent book that encourages God’s people about how to listen to the proclaimed Word.
Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages by Haddon Robinson. Robinson is arguably the foremost authority on biblical preaching in the English-speaking world. If you want to understand how to prepare an expository sermon, then begin with this book. If the pastoral candidate attended an evangelical seminary, then the chances are good that he will be familiar with this book.
Pastor Ed Eubanks web site Doulos Resources offers a wealth of resources for both pastoral candidates and churches looking for a pastor.