What pastor search committees fear most

“Why did you fear? Where is your faith?” (Mark 4:40)

“For we walk by faith, and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

You should read my mail.

Well, maybe you shouldn’t.  You would come away disgusted with the notion that our churches operate in faith, trust God supremely, and always want to do the honorable thing.  Some do; many do not.

A young minister I know is well-trained and very capable, he is called of God and has a heart for ministry.  Some church is going to love having him as pastor.  If they ever decide to call him.

Search committees are deathly afraid of him.

Time and again committees invite him to visit their church, interview him, and then, because of factors known only to them, pass him over in favor of safer candidates.

I found it necessary to tell the hurting brother, “By now you know the typical pastor search committee operates out of fear.”

Fear that….

–they will make the wrong choice.

–the congregation will reject their recommendation.

–some influential church members will scoff at their choice

–they will be seen to be extremists of one kind or the other: Calvinists or Arminians, liberal or fundamental, right-wing nut or social activist, independent or too dependent.

–that in calling someone “different,” they will be seen as doing something unusual, strange, or “by faith.”

Or possibly, they operate out of the fear that they shall be seen as operating out of fear.

Where is your faith?

In selecting and commissioning their committee, leaders of the congregation should instruct them that…

–we expect you to listen to the Holy Spirit more than to us.

–we expect you to be willing to tell the difference in God leading you in one direction and not in another.

–we want you to be courageous, even if that means doing something different, something bold, something unusual.

–in the same way you have a right to expect the congregation to uphold you in prayer, we expect you to be people of prayer and doing nothing except by His leadership.

Be alert to the sounds of fear

Listen to the conversation inside the typical committee and see if any of this sounds like faith….

–“I just feel better about Candidate B.  I loved Candidate A and his wife is precious, but I’m not sure how they would go over in our church.”

–“His wife didn’t dress very well.  I don’t think she would fit with the women of our church.”

–“He went to that off-brand theological school.  I’d feel better if we chose someone from a recognized seminary.”

–“I wonder what Mr. and Mrs. Oldguard would say about this pastor.  They’re so quick to form opinions, as you know, and a lot of people follow them.”

–“Did you notice he doesn’t have a doctor’s degree?  I like for our pastors to be known as Doctor, don’t you think?”

–“This pastor and his wife have adopted a mixed race child.  That would never work in our church. Let’s keep looking.”

–“Let’s get some more resumes.  I keep hoping we can find one who is perfect so we won’t have any hesitation about presenting him to the church.” (Translation:  “I keep hoping we will not have to use faith.”)

“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”  (Luke 18:8)

If I were on a pastor search committee, I would ask the congregation to establish up front whether they will support our acting in faith or if they want some kind of guarantee against failure?  if the latter, I’m off this committee. 

To go forward in faith means taking risks, doing the unusual, listening to His voice above all others.  We can try to please everyone or we can please Him.  But we cannot do both.

Pray for your church’s search committee.



3 thoughts on “What pastor search committees fear most

  1. I’d like to believe that most such parties in my organization are operating more in the faith realm. However, I fear that this operating more on the fear side of this equation is all too common. Most would call it being realistic, practical, cautious, or even walking in wisdom. God forbid that we understood that at the end of the search this whole business of matching up pastors and congregations is a risky process of faith. Each step of the process, even after the selection is somewhat settled, requires faith in God.

  2. “- we expect you to listen to the Holy Spirit more than to us.”
    Sadly, Joe, this line eliminated the majority. I’ve seen enough such committees to know that from the start (when they are formed) too many who are elected by congregations to be on the committee are not chosen because they have a reputation of listening to the Holy Spirit.

  3. Wow, are you hearing what you are saying? The GOD who speaks stars out of his mouth, do you really think he is limited by man? Fast and pray against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness in high places. Thats right ,thats what i said ! Stop trying to fight with words ! GOD has given us the remedy, It is obvious that Christians and leaders of today dont know where the battle is, the weapons of our warfare, the battle plan, and who is leading the fight. You have made GOD small in the eyes of this lost and dying world who needs to see CHRIST , HIGH AND LIFTED UP AND HIS TRAIN FILLS THE TEMPLE!!! If all you have to fight with is mans words then you will not be wielding the SWORD of the HOLY SPIRIT. You will be in the way, and not of THE WAY. GOD has a way that no man can find in the flesh. I council you who read this to buy of ” GOD “, gold tryed in the fire by the purification of the HOLY SPIRIT that only he can do ! The scripture is a type of gold. Allow GOD to refine you so the world will see JESUS in your reflection. Its JESUS they need to see , He is waiting for his church ” HIS BRIDE ” to be presented , so beautiful and adorned with precious jewels and white raiment groomed by the HOLY SPIRIT for JESUS our GROOM. Lets get the attention off of ourselves and back on where the focus should be. I am a temple of “I AM ” Prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. In JESUS name , AMEN !!!

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