Pastors: What not to do regarding search committees

We’ve written on this website regarding pastor search committees and how they should be approached by alert pastors.  Perhaps it’s time to say a word on what not to do regarding these church leaders determined to find a new leader for their congregation no matter how many bruised and bleeding ministers they have to leave in their wake.

Just to be safe, you may wish to go ahead and plant your tongue firmly in your cheek.  While the subject is serious, my treatment of it will be only partially so.

Okay. Pastor, you’ve been invited to meet with the search committee from the First Church of Butterfly City, and you’re plenty excited.

You’ve been at your present church a number of years now and have about run out of ideas, patience, and life-savings.  A change would not only be good, it might save your life, your ministry, your marriage or all three.   In fact, your wife might start believing in God once more if you told her He was transferring you to a new church.

Now, pastor, simmer down.  Do not let yourself become too excited….

First, pastor, you must not assume anything.

–Do not assume the Butterfly committee has done its background checks.  It’s completely possible they may begin tonight’s meeting with, “And who are you again? And where are you serving?”  Assume they know very little about you.

–Do not assume that you are the only candidate the Butterflyians are interviewing.  Committees have been known to invite a series of preachers for interviews, after which they will decide which ones are worth the trouble of traveling to hear them preach.  Assume–until they say otherwise–you are one of several they are looking at.

–Do not assume you are their number one choice and start dreaming of moving to that wonderful church in Butterfly City. This is no time to be calling the chamber of commerce for information on the nearest schools.  This is not yet the time to start doing background checks on the church.  In fact, you should assume this is just for your encouragement and their education until the Lord (and events) say otherwise.

–Do not assume they owe you anything or you may be disappointed.  In the minds of most PSC committee members, they are walking through a garden in search of the prize-winning rose.  The idea that they owe you a call-back is foreign to most. Assume you will not hear from them again. The surest way to disappointment is to wait by the phone for a call that in all likelihood will never come.

–Do not assume they know what they are doing or are well organized. If they do or are, be pleasantly surprised.

You may assume each committee you meet with will be different from all the others.

Furthermore, here are some no-no’s…

–Do not go into the meeting when you are angry at your wife, at the deacons, or at the Lord.  If you are, pull aside for a half hour and spend the time on your knees.

–Do not go into the committee meeting with a long list of your questions. This is their meeting.  If things go well, at a subsequent meeting you will be able to ask yours. If toward the end of the meeting they should ask, “And pastor, do you have any questions for us,” the perfect answer is, “Not at the present.  If the Lord should lead us further, I’m sure some will occur to me.”

–Do not try to impress them.  Be yourself. If you have a doctorate, try not to mention it. They’ll find it out in good time, if they don’t already know.  If you have won awards, do everyone who knows you a favor and forget them.  Be the humble man of God the Lord is fashioning.  Do not promote yourself.  Let others do that.

–Do not try to anticipate the kind of pastor they are searching for and fill that role. Again, be yourself.  As Dr Seuss said, “There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” So be you.

–Do not try to be cute or clever or funny. Even if your natural self is cute or clever or funny, try to rein it in. The way to do that is to spend time in prayer in which you give yourself anew to the Father for His purposes, whatever they are.

–Do not forget that the Holy Spirit who called you into this work is in charge of where you go next, how long you stay there, and what you accomplish.

Trust Him.  And not man.

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