Are there unwise ways to do a pastoral search?
- Try to land a big fish. Some churches go after a long list of “big name” pastors and hope that they’ll catch one. While we should be grateful for men whom God has made widely useful, we shouldn’t primarily target men because of their reputation, but because of their character, biblical qualifications, and biblical philosophy of ministry.
- Advertise the search like it’s a Hollywood audition. A pastorate is nothing like a lead role in a motion picture. Publishing ads and trying to gather as many applications as possible can be a huge waste of time. So, rather than cast the nets as broadly as possible, it’s better to call up trusted pastors and ask them who they would recommend. That way you’re only taking applications from likeminded men whom you have some personal connection to.
- Disregard the good of other churches. When they’re looking for a senior pastor, many churches want a man who has faithfully served as the senior pastor of another church for ten or fifteen years. They pursue him with the lure of more benefits, like a football team might pursue a star player from another team, and they give little thought to how unkind this might be to the other church. We should not treat the connection between pastors and churches like the connection between “free agents” and football teams. It’s unscriptural, to say the least.
- Giving too much authority to a search committee. Churches often use “pastoral search committees” because they are said to be “representative” of the church. Yet this is hardly a biblical idea. Instead, the Scriptures are more interested in matters of wisdom and godliness. Rather than giving massive functional authority to a group nowhere mentioned in Scripture—the “pastoral search committee”—the elders of a church should take the lead throughout a pastoral search. Those who shepherd the flock already should be the ones who are responsible for searching for a new shepherd when the need arises.