Up until my first pastorate, I was always hired or called to a ministry first by God, second by a pastor. However, I did not have my first experience with a committee contacting me in regards to a position until 2006. It was a very traditional church of about 200-250. The first committee disbanded for some crazy reason, so I was dealing with the second committee formed within a 6-month period. The pastor called me one night and said the committee was interested in a DVD of one of my worship services (when I was in music ministry) and some times I could potentially meet with them. As soon as I submitted a DVD, I never heard a thing. I knew the church secretary, so I called and asked why the pastor had not gotten back with me. He called the next day and told me the committee desired to look at other people. The secretary later revealed that the committee would not hire me because my choir didn’t smile enough. Spiritual, right?
Church committees often bring personal preferences to the table. I’ve observed committees that hired someone because that individual was nothing like his or her predecessor. Committees will have an age preference, an idea of what their ideal candidate looks like, etc. History has proven that the people of Jesus’ day would not have chosen Him to be the Savior of the world. Church committees would have never taken a first glance at most of the disciples except for Judas, in my opinion. The people God chooses to use are most often unlikely candidates by education, looks, family background, etc. We so quickly forget that God qualifies those who He calls.
What would I say to a committee who is looking for a pastor or someone to serve in their church?
- Pray, pray, and pray some more. I’m not talking about a 1-minute checkoff. I’m talking about truly seeking the Lord. I would include fasting. Empty yourself so you can truly hear from God.
- Throw your preferences out the window. I know church surveys are great, and many “professionals” say that is the way to go. It most often gives you an idea of how divided the church really is. I have yet to hear a committee tell me that a survey was helpful.
- Look at one person at a time. This relates to the final process. Most committees receive resumes from various sources. A resume can be very deceptive, but it also can be very helpful. After looking through resumes, many committees move on to watching people preach, sing, etc. These are helpful in getting an idea of the candidate’s public persona.
- Do your research on the candidate. Talk to the references. Find out what people in their community have to say. I intentionally listed references, for the ministry of which I am now a part, who know my worst and could tell them. They still allowed me to be a part of the ministry. Hallelujah! You want to get a good idea about the candidate’s character and reputation.
- Ask the candidate the hard questions. Ask what matters to your church. Allow little to no room for surprises.
- Be real! Don’t paint your church up to be something it is not. It will backfire in many ways, most likely sooner rather than later.
- Be courteous to every single candidate who applies. If they send a resume, send letters or emails to keep them updated. If you call them in for an interview, let them know God has led you to move forward with someone else if that is the case. I had a committee about three months ago never follow up afterward. I knew I was a horrible fit and did not desire to move forward, but they should have been courteous.
- Be open to the fact that the one God is calling to fill that role may not have applied. I have frequently seen God raise up men and women from within the church. They already knew and appreciated the heartbeat of the ministry. The committee members already knew the best and worst of them, so the transition was smoother than bringing in an outsider who did not know the culture of the area or the church.
This is not exhaustive, but I hope it helps a reader who may be serving on a church committee. Whatever you do, don’t let your checklist work God out of the equation.