If you’ve been in ministry a while, you’ve had to go through the legendary pastors search. If you haven’t ever experienced it, it’s coming. Here are the things that I try to keep in mind while I’m searching for the person to join our team.
1). PRAY. I know this seems so obvious. However, have you ever noticed how often the most obvious is very often the very first thing that is overlooked because it’s obviously automatic? Look at Jesus’ words: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38). Notice that in this verse Jesus points out the problem. He said that the harvest was plentiful but the workers were few. Then the first thing he mentions as the solution to this problem was to pray. This should be our first and constant step as we work through the search.
2). KNOW WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR. What is the job that this person is filling? What gift-set does the person coming into the position need in order to be effective in this position? Some positions are more administrative and less relational while others are completely opposite. It’s so vital to know what you’re looking for in this position. A practical thing to do is to make sure that you have a job description written out for this position before you even start the search. Obvious? I know. But remember from above…
3). THINK OF THE TEAM. Over the past 17 hears of ministry to students I have worked with some amazing youth workers, and I have worked with some that brought more pain than pleasure to ministry. It is so necessary to keep at the forefront of your mind the team that the new hire is joining. To neglect this is to be selfish in the process. It is true that each person may have different responsibilities on a staff, but everyone on that staff is part of the same team with the same purpose, working as one church for Christ’s glory. Get the wrong person on that team and Christ’s purpose and his kingdom get pushed to the side as you enter the world of Church Soap Opera.
4). GET SOME HELP. Do not try to take this responsibility on by yourself. Ask a group of leaders in your church to be part of the process. Get different types of people with different personalities who will see things and ask questions that you normally wouldn’t. The goal is to be completely covered as you read through resumes and go through interviews of the candidates. If you do it alone, you are guaranteed to miss it. If you get people who only think like you do, you are guaranteed to fall short.
5). BE RUTHLESS. What I mean by this is this: Read each resume. Call references. Check references of references. Talk to every single person that you can who may know your candidate as you continue on in the process. Ask tough questions of the candidates in the interviews. Watch their body language and pay attention to nervous habits. Do everything possible to make sure that you are getting God’s person in that position.
6). GO SLOW. It’s so easy to jump into hiring a new pastor because of the urgency of getting someone to fill that position. However, to move so quickly, cutting corners along the way, is the perfect recipe for complete disaster on your team. Go slow. Some think, “But what if I go so slow that I miss out on the perfect person.” That’s God’s thing. Go as slow as he wants you to go. Don’t rush it. Don’t force the decision. Remember: It’s his church and he wants his church to succeed more than you do.