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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

What are some questions a pastor should ask a church he’s candidating at?

A. Theological Questions
1. What is the church’s statement of faith?
2. What has been the most vexed theological question the church has faced? Has there ever been a church split over theology or practice? Why?
3. What theological trends and strands of false teaching are the elders of the church particularly concerned about?
4. Who do you understand to be the biblically designated leaders of the church?
5. What do you understand the roles and responsibilities of elders to be?
6. What do you understand the roles and responsibilities of deacons to be?
7. What is the church’s position on the role of women with respect to leadership positions in the church?
8. What kind of church government does the church have? How does it work out practically?

B. Philosophy of Ministry Questions
1. What do you understand a pastor’s primary responsibility to be?
2. What role do you think preaching should play in a pastor’s work and in the life of the church?
3. How would you assess whether or not a man is succeeding as pastor?
4. What is the process of being baptized and becoming a church member?
5. What are the expectations for church members?
6. How does the church practice church discipline?
7. Does the church have any plans for church planting?
8. Does the church have any plans to expand the church building?
9. Are there any ways the elders are presently leading the church to change?
10. Do the church members generally and happily follow the elders’ leadership?
11. How many Sundays out of the year do you expect the pastor to preach?
12. What items in the current services are non-negotiable? What other items are deemed acceptable and have been featured in the past? Who is currently responsible for putting together the orders of service?
13. What is the church’s expectation regarding pastoral visitation?
14. How often are business meetings conducted? Does the pastor moderate them? Are they productive and generally positive? What is typically discussed?
15. Does the church have a yearly budget? If so, how is it put together?
16. What is the church’s strategy for missions?
17. Who is responsible for the website and library? Are they willing to have the pastor give significant input into these areas?
18. Has the church ever had small groups? If so, what is the leadership’s feeling about their significance?
19. What are the leadership’s views concerning counseling?
20. How would you sum up the spiritual health of the congregation in qualitative terms (in terms of categories like prayer, evangelism, love for one another)?
21. Are there any “sacred cows” in the church?
22. Would the congregation consider adding an additional paid staff member at any point?

C. Personal Questions
1. Will the pastor receive an expense account for ministry related items?
2. What is the rationale regarding days off, holidays, and sabbaticals?
3. Do you think it would be relatively easy for a young family to settle into the church and the town?
4. What challenges do you think my wife and children would face if we move here?
7. What role would the pastor’s wife be expected to have in the church?
8. What are the schools like in the area?
9. How easy is it to buy an affordable house in the area?

(Much of this material has been adapted from Colin Adams’s blog post, “41 Questions to ask a potential church,” available here.)