The task of searching for a pastor is not an easy one. That’s why most churches don’t assign this task to an individual but to a group often called the Pastor Search Committee or Pastor Search Team. On behalf of the church, this group is assigned the responsibility of searching for, screening, and selecting a viable candidate to be presented to the church for final approval.
The pastor search process is long, lasting 12-18 months for the average church. It can be a difficult journey, with many twists, turns, and setbacks along the way. Members of the Pastor Search Committee log many hours in prayer, in meetings, reviewing resumes, listening to sermons, interviewing candidates, and dozens of other tasks. Whenever there’s a setback or things don’t go as planned, Pastor Search Committee members may feel discouraged, angry, or hopeless.
For these reasons, it’s safe to say that serving on a Pastor Search Committee is not for the faint of heart.
If you are a member of a church currently searching for a pastor, you can make your Pastor Search Committee’s job easier or more difficult. Keep reading for seven specific actions you can take to make your Pastor Search Committee’s job easier.
One other note before we dive into the list. I share these recommendations with the assumption that your Pastor Search Committee is genuinely operating in the church’s best interests. I assume you don’t have any of these individuals on your Pastor Search Committee. With that disclaimer, here are seven ways to make your Pastor Search Committee’s job easier.
#1: Pray for Them
Pray that they would be unified. Pray that they will be diligent in their work. Pray that they would be humble and patient. Pray that God would clearly reveal the man He has chosen to be the next pastor. Your prayer support is vital to the success of your Pastor Search Committee!
#2: Trust the Process
As I have described elsewhere, there are five general phases in the pastor search process. Each of those phases takes time. That’s why when everything goes according to plan, the process still takes 12-18 months for most churches. If unexpected setbacks occur and the Search Committee must return to a previous step, more time will be added.
Pastor Search Committees that commit to an intentional process will still encounter twists and turns. However, the process will account for these bumps in the road, and the Committee will understand their next step, although the church may not know what is taking place behind the scenes. However, as long as the Search Committee communicates that they are following an intentional process, you should join them in trusting that process.
#3: Encourage Them
Most Pastor Search Committees only hear from church members when they’re unhappy about something. They listen to complaints about how long the search is taking. They’re told they aren’t sharing enough information with the church. They field questions and concerns because they have chosen not to move forward with a particular candidate. The complaints are endless, but the compliments are rare.
Let me challenge you to take the opposite approach. Encourage your Pastor Search Committee. Send them cards or texts to let them know you’re praying for them. Let them know how much you appreciate their sacrifice. Assure them that you support them and trust in the Lord’s timing. A little encouragement will go a long way!
#4: Don’t Undermine Them
One of the most significant challenges that Pastor Search Committees face is when church members undermine their work. There are several ways this can happen. Perhaps a church member accuses the Pastor Search Committee of pursuing a secret agenda during a church business meeting. Maybe a group publicly second-guesses every decision made by the Committee. Perhaps another group seeks to manipulate the Committee to accommodate their preferences. Still another group questions if a Pastor Search Committee is even necessary.
These are all examples in which the work of the Pastor Search Committee is undermined. As a result, the church’s confidence in their work may lessen, leading to increased scrutiny and questioning of their efforts, thereby making their task even more difficult.
If you want to make your Pastor Search Committee’s job easier, don’t undermine their efforts.
#5: Give Them Space
The Pastor Search Committee is already under a lot of pressure, increasing exponentially when church members constantly nag them or question the process. If your church has appointed the task of searching for a new pastor to the Pastor Search Committee, give them the space they need to complete it. Don’t overwhelm them with endless requests for updates. Don’t constantly demand that they justify their actions and the amount of time it takes. Give them the space they need, making their job much easier.
#6: Defend Them
When you hear others attempt to undermine or criticize the Pastor Search Committee, rush to their defense. Remind them that your church has entrusted the search to the Committee, and the church must allow them to conduct the search in ways they deem best. Encourage frustrated church members to be patient and trust in the Lord’s timing. Remind them that the process takes a while. Remind them that the Pastor Search Committee members have sacrificed time with their families to conduct this work on behalf of the church.
Whenever you take the opportunity to run interference on behalf of the Committee, you will make their job much easier.
#7: Hold Them Accountable
Although the Pastor Search Committee will conduct the search on behalf of the church, they are not independent of the church. While you shouldn’t undermine their work or constantly pepper them with questions or requests for updates, you will make their job easier if you hold them accountable for certain actions.
For example, the church may require that the Search Committee receive formal pastor search training from a church consultant or denominational worker. The church may require the Committee to adopt a specific search process. You may request the Pastor Search Committee to provide monthly updates to the congregation throughout the search process. These are all reasonable and helpful requests.
Clearly define those actions that the church requires the Pastor Search Committee to take and hold them accountable for taking those actions. This way, expectations are clearly defined, and everyone is on the same page, making the Pastor Search Committee’s job much easier.
The Choice is Yours
The work of the Pastor Search Committee is difficult. However, you and your fellow church members can make that work easier or harder. The choice is yours. I pray you will take these seven actions to make their job easier!
Photo by Aaron J Hill: https://bit.ly/3OHUH6e