Bible Passages for Pastor Search Committees

At the 2011 Gospel Coalition, Chris Brauns led a panel discussion that focused on pastoral transitions. Participants Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and Rick Thompson discuss the role that networks and conferences can play in pastoral transitions and recommend passages of Scripture for pastor search committees to read as they look for a new pastor.

There is no one way to find a new pastor, but your denomination, a formal network (such as The Gospel Coalition), or a personal network can help equip you with resources and guidance as you seek to fill your pulpit.

In the final segment of the Gospel Coalition panel on pastoral transitions, Chris Brauns asks participants what role networks play in the search for a new pastor. Lig Duncan encourages pastoral candidates to be open with churches about areas where their convictions on ministry might conflict with the church’s expectations. Mark Dever emphasizes the importance of senior pastors creating a positive atmosphere for junior pastors to transition elsewhere.

The panel also recommends several passages of Scripture as churches and pastors begin their pastoral search.

  • Rick recommends 1 Timothy 5:21-22 and encourages congregations to be patient in finding a new pastor, not to show favoritism, and to be careful in their decision-making. For pastors, he encourages them to remember that God has a place for them in His call on their lives.
  • Mark points pastor search committees to 1 Corinthians 12-14, reminding churches that pastors aren’t called just to preach; they are called to preach God’s Word. God’s Word then edified churches. Pastor search committees should remember that if a pastor is interested in anything other than that, they shouldn’t be interested in him.
  • Lig encourages congregations to talk about what the church is and does, and what pastors and elders are and do. He recommends 1 Timothy 3, Titus, and the other passages mentioned by the other participants as starting points. If the congregation is steeped in the biblical picture of the church, it will be difficult for just a few people to lead that astray.

Chris Brauns also encourages churches looking for a pastor to consider doing a study in the book of Titus. An excerpt from When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search explains:

A great place for pastoral search committees to begin with as a reference point is the “Pastoral Epistles,” the books of 1-2 Timothy and Titus…These letters from Paul to his protégées were written to develop pastoral leadership and are ideal fodder for pastoral search committees’ meditation during the search. Indeed, I would encourage everyone involved in your pastoral search to read prayerfully though these books 5-10 times. . .

. . . For several reasons, Titus offers an ideal portion of Scripture to study during a pastoral transition.

  1. In Titus 1:6-9, Paul reviews the qualifications for an elder. A church preparing to call a pastor is doing exactly what Paul wrote to Titus about—appointing an elder.
  2. In the book of Titus, Paul models the building of unity upon a core foundation of doctrine…From the beginning of the letter, Paul establishes that the basis for their unity—what they have in common—is their faith.
  3. Finally, the book of Titus is a very manageable length. It is less than two pages in my Bible…Despite its brevity, the book of Titus is so doctrinally rich, we could study it the rest of our lives and not exhaust its content.

Your Thoughts
What are other passages of Scripture that pastor search committees can use when looking for a pastor? What are passages that a pastor can use when seeking a church?

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