Not, as you might expect, by seeking applicants and accepting resumes.
The first phase of our search process is called “Inquiry” and involves intensive
listening: to God, to our church, and to our community. Only as we listen to important information about God’s will, our needs, and opportunities in our community can we begin to discern the sort of person who can best help us into a productive future.
The decision about a new minister has real and obvious implications for all of us. This person will be a spiritual guide, a leader of our church, a key link to our community, and a friend and brother.
So it is important for you to tell us some things (about yourself, the church, and your hopes for our future) so the Transformation Team can represent you well. Here are the areas covered by the Congregational Assessment:
- Church demographics (e.g., gender, age, race, length of time as a Christian, etc.)
- Personal spiritual health (e.g., how often do you read your Bible or pray? Are you actively involved in ministry?)
- Congregational Spiritual Health (e.g., the extent to which your church’s vision/mission is
known and embraced; is your church involved with the community?)
- Minister preferences (What is most important to you in a minister: e.g., inspiring sermons, visionary leader, pastoral care?)
The survey will be offered "on-line"--the most efficient way for us to collect your
responses and report the results.
- This survey is anonymous; meaning we will not collect any information to identify you personally. As surveys of this nature can be personal, we want you to feel confident your answers are private and confidential.
- If you can get to the internet, you can take the survey in the privacy of your home. If not, we will make laptops available at the building for your convenience. If you need help, members of the Transformation Team will be available to assist you.
- If you absolutely cannot take the survey on-line, we will make paper/pencil surveys available to you.
- Set aside 30-45 minutes to respond to the survey.
We need to listen to our neighbors ... the people we live with in community. We intend to:
- Gather as much information as possible about our city: demographics, projections,
population, education, divorce rates, etc.
- Talk to as many community leaders as possible: mayor, city manager, police chief, social service agencies, non-profit ministries, child-services, etc..
- To collate and analyze responses so that we capture a snapshot of the community’s character and learn important information about the community that relates to our search endeavors.
- To report results to the congregation and church leaders in an encouraging, informative way.
We want to listen to the ways God is already at work around us, how he is changing and impacting lives, and who he is partnering with in doing so. What churches are obviously doing kingdom business in our area? What ministries are transforming lives? Where is the Spirit of God most evidently at work in the churches around us?
Among other characteristics, we will be identifying:
- Churches that are experiencing rapid and evangelistic growth
- Churches deeply involved in ministries that are widely recognized and highly
appreciated (e.g., outreach to the homeless, marriage ministry, campus work, etc.)
- ‘Networked’ churches (where partnerships with other churches and municipal agencies
is valued and pursued)
Then we will talk to these churches: interviewing pastors and other leaders, asking questions, learning from their experiences, and finding ways we might partner with them in the future.
Yes. One of the things we must listen to is our own history, the story of what God has been doing in and through us over the decades. This will not be an exhaustive history (225 pages with
footnotes and indices!). But it will provide an overview of the life of our church, key events and people, a summary of growth (and decline?) in membership, etc.
This overview will help candidates get to know us quickly and have a context for who we are today. We will be happy to
share this history with you when it is done.
This is the phase where things start to get exciting: we actually start collecting the names of people who could become our next pulpit minister.
Well lets start by first indicating we will not by putting “Preacher Wanted” ads in brotherhood papers or websites.
- We need quality candidates, not a quantity of candidates.
- We will rely on a group of people we call “Recommenders” to recommend (hence the name!) candidates who are best suited to partner with our leaders and church for an effective future.
These are people who have been identified and chosen on the following criteria:
- They understand pulpit ministry and leadership. They’ve done it at a high level. They know churches and pulpit work intimately and from the inside.
- They have a broad and deep network of relationships among pulpit ministers. They know people who are neck-deep in ministry. They are in a good position to evaluate who is doing that ministry well, what their skills and abilities are, and whether they would make a good match with our church
- “Recommenders” must also be willing to spend some time and effort on our behalf. We are not simply asking them for some names. We are asking them to pray purposefully about our church and our ministerial need and allow God to place the name of one person on their hearts that, above all others, he can recommend as the right person for this opportunity.
Most churches, when calling a new pulpit minister to serve the church, want everything in a minister:
- preaches like Peter
- brilliance of Paul
- loving like John
- courageous as Stephen
- thirty-five years old with forty years of preaching experience, perfect family ... the list goes on.
The reality, however, is that no single person can have every skill, attribute, attitude, gift, aptitude wrapped up in one package. So if we can’t have everything in our next minister, what must we have? And what can we live without? The “ideal candidate” description is an attempt to prioritize our wants and wishes
regarding the next pulpit minister and identify the qualities and characteristics we believe to be most important in a minister who can effectively work with us to accomplish God’s mission.
These ‘qualities and characteristics’ are drawn from the assessments we’ve done, the conversations we’ve had, and the long discussions of vision and mission we’ve engaged in. You are welcome to look over a description of our ideal candidate as soon as it is ready.
Although our Transformation Team is heading up the majority of work, you are critically need in this journey as well.
- Pray: for our church, for the Transformation Team, for our elders, and for the person God is
leading us to ... the person who will serve as our next pulpit minister.
- Pray for our Recommenders: for wisdom and discernment.
- Be an encourager. Find someone serving on the Transformation Team and speak words of thanks and support. (Slip them a Starbucks gift card. A little coffee goes a long way!)
- Ask for a copy of our Ideal Candidate description and do some thinking and praying about who we are looking for.
We are entering that phase in our search process where we actually start talking directly to candidates. Here are some answers to questions you might have about these conversations:
Each candidate considered by the committee will be assigned a “host.”
It is the host’s duty to make initial contact, gather information, develop a
relationship with the candidate, keep the candidate updated and informed, and
recommend next steps to the Committee.
If the host is convinced his/her candidate should be considered further, a
recommendation will be made to move the candidate to a “Triad.”
Triads are formed when a host recommends a candidate for further consideration. Two other committee members join the host in conversations with and about the candidate. They read
the candidate’s project file, listen to his sermons and read his writings, and then engage in direct conversations with the candidate. This allows for “new eyes and ears” to examine the candidate and injects a new level of objectivity and insight into the process.
It also permits a deeper level of questioning of the candidate about his beliefs, leadership abilities, strengths
and weaknesses, etc.
The Triad will go through the same process as the host: listening, talking, and praying until, together, they reach a measure of confidence that the candidate should be given even closer consideration.
At this point, they will recommend the candidate to the committee as a whole.
Then the entire committee will read through the candidate’s project file, listen to sermons and read writings, and engage in direct conversations with the candidate. They will contact the candidate’s references and speak with his current (or most recent) elders.
The committee’s task is to engage in a season of “communal discernment” until God makes obvious to the entire
committee that this particular person is the minister God is calling to serve this church at this time.
The Transformation Team makes a formal recommendation to the elders requesting that the elders carefully consider this candidate as our new pulpit minister.
The Transformation Team has meet for months at this point. They have prayed for days. They have examined dozens of potential candidates. They have discussed each candidate’s merits, strengths, and possible shortcomings. They have focused in on the candidate they believe God is calling to serve this church during the next season of the church’s life. Now, they have recommended this candidate to the elders for their consideration.
The ‘Search’ Committee (our Transformation Team) is called that for a reason. They search. But they do not select. Selection is left to the elders.
And, in order for the elders to have as much confidence in their selection as the Transformation Team does in their recommendation, they will need to go through the same process the team followed in order to reach a decision:
- read the candidate’s project file
- listen to his sermons and read his writings
- engage in several direct conversations with the candidate
- talk with the candidates references/elders.
They will bring the candidate before the congregation to seek affirmation from the church that this is the right minister for the job. And then they will ask the congregation to go through a process of “communal discernment” to hear the will of God together and with clarity.
- The elders will announce the name of the candidate to the church and indicate that the committee has recommended this person to be our next minister, the elders are
confident we’ve found our next minister, and now it is time for the church’s voice to be heard on the matter.
- They will make available (on the church’s website?) links to sermons, samples of
writings, resume, etc. for the congregation’s consideration.
- They will announce a date when the candidate and his family will visit the congregation and give members a chance to interact and get to know each other.
- That weekend will be a full one: receptions Friday evening, Saturday, Sunday afternoon (to let the church meet the candidate in smaller gatherings), a class-time where the candidate will be “interviewed” by an elder and a member of the Transformation Team, and a worship period during which the candidate will preach.
Yes, the elders will call the church to prayer, fasting, and feedback.
Does the church see in this candidate what the Transformation Team sees, what the elders see?
Can the church be as enthusiastic in welcoming this minister to our congregation as the committee and elders are?
Your feedback and comments are a vital part of affirming (or disaffirming) the elders’ conclusions and decision. Barring any major concerns or stringent objections by a sizable portion of the church’s membership, the elders will make an offer to the candidate and invite him to serve our church as our next pulpit minister.