Best Ways to Find Pastoral Candidates

TGC Panel Part 2 of 4

Mentors? Churches? Aircraft carriers? The TGC panel discusses the best ways to find a new pastor in today’s world of endless internet options.


At the 2011 Gospel Coalition National Conference, Chris Brauns led a panel discussion focusing on pastoral transitions. Participants Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and Rick Thompson talked about the challenges churches face as they look for pastors in the 21st century.

In this segment of the panel discussion, Chris asked the question, “How should candidates seek to connect with a local church?” The answers given are helpful not only for pastoral candidates, but also to churches looking for a pastor. For either pastors seeking churches or churches trying to find a pastor, it is important to build relationships with key churches and candidates.

In this video segment, Rick Thompson suggests that pastoral candidates should have both a mentor, with whom they meet regularly, and a sponsor that they meet with one or two times a year. Churches looking for pastors can then contact a large number of pastors or leaders who may be mentoring young pastoral candidates.

Mark Dever uses the image of local churches being aircraft carriers, regularly identifying future pastors that can be launched in pastoral ministry. Aspiring pastors then have not just a mentor but an entire community supporting them as they move to a new community where they can serve.

In either case, the emphasis is on identifying pastoral candidates through relationships rather than through resumes. While it is possible that a local church may find a pastor by sifting through a high stack of resumes, the probability is far better that the right candidate will be found through a mutual acquaintance.

A Final Note: Lig Duncan cautions that pulpit nominating committees and pastor search committees are not always representative of the church they represent. As I stress in When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search, one of the most important factors in a successful search for a new pastor is to have a qualified pastor search committee or pulpit nominating committee.

Your Thoughts
What is the more effective way of finding someone to fill a pastoral opening – resumes or relationships?

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