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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

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:
  1. 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?
  2. Is there a confession of faith which better articulates your views?
  3. What is the gospel?
  4. Do you believe in the doctrines of grace? Why or why not?
  5. What are some theological issues that you think are especially important for Christians to get right in this time and place?
  6. 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:
  1. How do you preach (e.g., expositionally, topically, doctrinally)? What have you preached in the last two years?
  2. What is a pastor’s primary responsibility? What are the next few priorities after that?
  3. What are some of the most important ideas and practices that you think cultivate health in a local church?
  4. How do churches grow, according to the Bible?
  5. Is practicing church discipline important to you? Why or why not?
  6. 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:
  1. What is your style of leadership (hands-on, laid-back, fast-paced, facilitator, CEO?)
  2. What are your thoughts on worship music for the Sunday morning gathering?
  3. 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).
  1. How did you become a Christian?
  2. How do you regularly pursue holiness and communion with God?
  3. Tell us about your family. How does your wife feel about being a pastor’s wife? What are your children like?
  4. What are some things we might not like about you if we knew them (theological views, personal weaknesses)?
  5. What sins do you struggle with most?

(Much of this material has been adapted from Paul Alexander’s article, “Questions for Pastoral Candidates”)