What search committees say when they mean something else

Never volunteer for the pastor search committee unless one of two things is true: Everyone agrees that a beloved former staff member, who is now serving a church in Podunk, is going to be the next pastor, making this the easiest job ever–or, you have a death wish.

It can be the hardest, most thankless assignment you’ll ever undertake.

It can also make a world of difference for good in a church that needs just the right combination of visionary pastor, anointed preacher, competent administrator, and down-to-earth friend.

If your church is selecting such a committee, pray big time for the Lord to lead in filling the slots. Never volunteer for it.  Accept it if the Lord leads you and those making the decision.  If you are a member of such a group, then this little piece is for you.  Think of what follows as a cautionary note, exaggerated in places, attempting a little humor at times, but with much truth.

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A young preacher asks about dealing with search committees

As far as I know, no college or seminary has a course in how preachers are to deal with search committees. It’s a skill acquired by trial and error. Mostly trial, I can hear someone say.
A young preacher named David asked about search committees. He’s never been a pastor and is about to meet with a team from a church in search of a pastor. Worries and thoughts of that are keeping him awake at night. He asks,  How does a beginning preacher deal with a search committee?

Since the world has changed since I first sat in that boat, I asked David to jot down specific questions. He sent an even dozen.

1. How do we know we’re being sent to a particular church?

There is only one right answer to this, my friend: The Holy Spirit tells you and them the same thing.

Some would add that “it just feels right,” or “it’s exactly the kind of church you were praying for” or “the church vote was unanimous.” None of those do it for me.

If you have trouble deciphering the will of the Lord in this matter, seek out an older, more seasoned pastor to help you think this through.

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A pastor has been wronged by a search committee. What to do?

My friend has stirred up a furor.

Writing on Facebook, my friend Stan told of a pastor search committee that has just angered him by their treatment of a wonderful young pastor.

According to Stan, the committee and the pastor met on several occasions, they heard him preach numerous times, and it was clear that “this was of God.” The process worked itself out over several months. The committee voted unanimously that this pastor was their choice.  The pastor himself agreed.

All was well, it seemed.

And then one day, the chairman phoned the pastor. “I have bad news,” he said.  “While everyone is unanimous that you are our choice for the church, however, when we voted on bringing your name before the church as our recommendation, two members of the committee voted ‘no.'”

The vote was 7 for and 2 against.

Since search committees are expected to bring only unanimous recommendations before the church, the chairman felt he had no choice but to accept his committee’s actions and shut down their dealings with that pastor.

You can imagine how the pastor felt after hanging up the phone.  Disappointment.  Anger perhaps.  Frustration. Puzzlement.

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