What kind of questions should a church ask a pastoral candidate?
A church should ask at least four types of questions of any potential pastor: theological, philosophy of ministry, practical, and personal.
- Theological. A church should ask a pastoral candidate theological questions because what that pastor believes will shape everything he does in the church. So a church should ask him questions like:
- Do you agree with everything in this church’s statement of faith? Is there anything missing from this statement of faith that you would like changed or added?
- Is there a confession of faith which better articulates your views?
- What is the gospel?
- Do you believe in the doctrines of grace? Why or why not?
- What are some theological issues that you think are especially important for Christians to get right in this time and place?
- How would you characterize your understanding of biblical church leadership?
- Philosophy of ministry. Even a man who is theologically orthodox may approach ministry in a way that is radically inconsistent with his professed beliefs. Therefore, a church should ask a pastoral candidate questions that will expose his working philosophy of ministry, questions like:
- How do you preach (e.g., expositionally, topically, doctrinally)? What have you preached in the last two years?
- What is a pastor’s primary responsibility? What are the next few priorities after that?
- What are some of the most important ideas and practices that you think cultivate health in a local church?
- How do churches grow, according to the Bible?
- Is practicing church discipline important to you? Why or why not?
- What is evangelism? How should Christians evangelize?
- Practical. A church should attempt to get some idea of how a pastor practically intends to lead the church. Questions in this category may include:
- What is your style of leadership (hands-on, laid-back, fast-paced, facilitator, CEO?)
- What are your thoughts on worship music for the Sunday morning gathering?
- How do you cultivate a sense of biblical, godly community in a local church?
- Personal. Finally, a church should ask a prospective pastor a number of personal questions. Most of the biblical qualifications for pastoral ministry are related to a man’s character (1 Tim. 3:2-7).
- How did you become a Christian?
- How do you regularly pursue holiness and communion with God?
- Tell us about your family. How does your wife feel about being a pastor’s wife? What are your children like?
- What are some things we might not like about you if we knew them (theological views, personal weaknesses)?
- What sins do you struggle with most?
(Much of this material has been adapted from Paul Alexander’s article, “Questions for Pastoral Candidates”)