The Search 1

who will participate?

It’s time to look for the next preacher. Who’ll have a part in the search and selection? How will the search be conducted? Possibilities, Some Ways I’ve Observed Recommendation. Contact a favorite preacher, president or head of the Bible department of a Christian college, or the director of a preacher training school and ask for […]

The Search


Search Churches


Kick-Off Meeting BL






Search Training BL






Preacher Suggestion Form BL






Interviews BL






Reference Form BL






Preacher-Church Contract BL copy






Interim Minister Contract BL







Search Preachers

Questions for Elders RL






Preacher Interview RL






Staff Interview RL

Organizing for the Search


      The search is preceded by a self-study for the church as a whole and for each individual to think inwardly, to reflect and to communicate their thoughts on the present state of the church, and to tell the strengths needed for the next preacher at this congregation.  In my first sermons during the interim, I repeat, “One of the best ways to get a good preacher is to be a good Christian.”  I plan to discuss these two topics in future newsletters:
1. Self study.
2. Preaching during the interim.

Search Committee

     The search begins with a Search Committee of about twelve people composed of a cross section of the congregation, chosen by the elders to begin the process.  They process résumés that come to the church, receive suggestions from the congregation, and actively pursue possible preachers.

    The internet provides a confidential, inexpensive, and non-confrontational way for preachers to “try out.”  Anyone, including the committee and other interested members of the church, can listen to sermons, find out biographical information, and observe the work of the congregation where the preacher presently serves without any travelling or upsetting the considered preacher or his congregation.

      The Search Committee listens to sermons, reads résumés, and conducts a phone interview.  During this time, they are selecting about four men they consider to be the best match for this congregation at this time.

Interview Committee

      The Interview Committee is composed of about twelve people, including two elders.  They receive all information gathered by the Search Committee and begin to do a more in-depth investigation.  This includes checking references, inviting the preachers and wives to our town, and a more lengthy interview.  I was impressed the Sunday afternoon I sat with this committee as they interviewed me in a practice run before the “real preachers” came in.  This group will recommend the best candidate to the elders.


      The final candidate will come to Cookeville.  He will preach, interview with the entire eldership, and interact with the staff and congregation.  After this visit, we hope we have found the preacher that will serve this church for years to come.

     The disadvantage of this process is the amount of time it takes.

    The advantage of this process is the amount of time it takes.  Interim ministry is not fill-in preaching until you find another preacher as fast as you can.  The concept of interim ministry is that is takes time to adjust to the loss of one relationship before you can build another relationship effectively.

     Another advantage is that at Collegeside, about ten percent of the people who filled out a self study participated actively in the search process.  Thirty-three people were either on the Search Committee, Interview Committee, or serve as an elder.

— Jerrie Barber

Preacher Search Suggestions 4

suggestions about looking for a preacher

You may want to read the previous three posts: Preacher Search Suggestions 1, Preacher Search Suggestions 2, Preacher Search Suggestions 3. Keep the congregation informed.  On a regular schedule (two to three weeks), give a brief report with no names mentioned.  Communicate with specifics:  “We’ve received 25 suggestions from members here, and we’ve received 37 résumés.  We’ve contacted […]

Preacher Search Suggestions 3

suggestions about looking for a preacher

Please read previous suggestions: Preacher Search Suggestions 1; Preacher Search Suggestions 2. Don’t promise prospective preachers much. Each member of the search team should be careful not to discuss your preferences and give an indication to a preacher he’s the “top pick” when the group hasn’t reached a decision. Avoid feel-good phrases without specific meaning, […]

Preacher Search Suggestions 2

suggestions from observation and experience about looking for a preacher

This post is second in a series of what I’ve learned “trying out” and serving as an interim in seven congregations. Read first: Barber Bullets 1 Consider a “no suicide” contract for the search team. Sometimes people get tired, disillusioned, or frustrated when working on a project. They may quit unexpectedly in disgust: “Now they’ll know […]

Preacher Search — Interviews

what will you ask and what will you be asked?

The search team has read recommendations and resumes. They’ve sorted their first impressions into A, B, and C categories. It’s time to continue the evaluation. The search team and prospective preacher should consider, compile, and practice two sets of questions: What will I ask? What will I be asked? If I’m concerned with only one […]

Search Team Training

how do you look for a new preacher?

How do you suggest searching for a preacher that will be blessed by and a blessing to this congregation at this time? In this post, I give experience from 1961 to the present, with five congregations in full-time work and interim churches since 2007. This is an outline of a training day for the team […]

Search Training

Training for the Search


     I begin the training process with some presuppositions.


  • I believe God loves His church.  Jesus built it and died for it (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28).  God is not only concerned about the church universal but each congregation individually.  Several letters of the New Testament are to local groups of believers.
  • Since God loves His church and wants the best for it, we should invite Him to be part of this process.  Remind yourself and others that His wisdom is available to those who pray for it (James 1:5) and work for it (Proverbs 2:1-5).
  • The process is as important as the product.  Christians on the Search and Interview committees, including the entire eldership, are not just doing a job but you are participating in an opportunity to grow spiritually.  They can learn about God, about others, and about themselves.
  • Each committee should become a group before they see the first résumé or mention the first preacher’s name.  A friend used to say, “I dream of a place and a time where Christians can get together and tell the truth.”  The interview and selection process should be one of those times and places.
  • If one holds back, does not speak his mind, doesn’t ask important questions, doesn’t add helpful insight, or is in any way intimidated or compromised, the group and the church is deprived of group wisdom.  To become a group will probably require several meetings before they are able “to get on with the Lord’s work” of selecting a preacher.  I happen to believe that learning to get along with each other, discussing how we are going to conduct business including how we will settle conflict when it arises, and getting to know each other better in order to “stir up love and good works” is part of “the Lord’s work.”
  • The training day is designed to begin this process.  It’s only the beginning.  Usually a group goes through three stages before they are ready to function:
      1. Forming.
      2. Storming.
      3. Norming.
     My aim is to include activities in the training day to begin those stages. I conducted these training sessions on a Saturday.

7:30     Breakfast.  We start with a light meal.  This begins the group process.  Many things happen when we are eating to bring us together.

After breakfast, I get the group into a circle.  Everyone is facing everyone else.  Everyone is on the front row.

Prayer is a part of our day at many different times.  We pray for wisdom.  We pray for the members of the search and interview team.  We pray for the elders.  We pray for the next preacher.  We pray for the men who will be considered who will want to come but will not be selected.  We pray for this church and the body of Christ over the world.

8:00     Guidelines.  I begin any group (counseling session, Bible class, Family Meeting, Stress Session in a monthly ministers’ workshop) with negotiating guidelines.  Family (group) rules are usually unconscious, unspoken, but understood.  That makes for difficult communication.  I want the rules to be spoken, conscious, and understood.  These are the boundaries that improve the possibility that “Christians can get together and tell the truth.”  “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed” (Amos 3:3, NKJV)?  The answer to that question is, “No!”  Many discussions end in chaos or miscommunication because we didn’t talk about how we were going to talk.  You can receive a free copy of the guidelines I use by subscribing to my blog post reminders: GUIDELINES FOR A GOOD DISCUSSION: how to lead a peaceful conversation about powerful things .

8:35     Mixer, introduction.  The people line up according to birthdays:  January – December.  They get into pairs.  Each person interviews the other, preparing to introduce the partner to the group.  Tell something about yourself and include something that no one knows about you until today.  Each person introduces his/her partner.

8:45     What do you bring to this process?  It is interesting how different people contribute to the search process.  Some are good at calling, recording, leading the meetings, writing letters or emails, asking interview questions, arranging for visits to the congregation, keeping spreadsheets of where each candidate is in the process, preparing sermons on CDs or MP3s for others to hear.  We learn more about that in this section of the training session.

9:15     What will you get out of this?  Each person needs to examine his motives.  “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).  The search process is long and sometimes difficult and frustrating.  Unless there is adequate motivation, the members will get discouraged.  That can result in some people quitting and/or rushing the process to “get it over with” and end with less than excellent results.


9:45     Collegeside church now—10 years from now.  After the break, I bring people to tables with crayons and large drawing paper.  I ask each person to draw a line vertically in the middle of the page.  On the left side of the paper, each person draws his or her impression of this congregation now.  On the right side of the page, each person draws his or her hopes and dreams for this church ten years from now.  After everyone is finished, we come back into the circle and discuss the pictures.  Everyone is learning what others see now and what they want to see in the future.  These ideas will help form what they want to see in the next preacher.

10:30    Book “mustard seeds”.  A few weeks before, I have given everyone a book on the selection process.  During this session, each person shares some ideas gained that may be helpful in selecting the next preacher for this congregation.  Some suggested books for preacher search . The first book I recommend is The Search Committee Handbook: The Step-by-Step Guide to Hiring Your Next Minister, by Don Viar.

11:15     Search Committee, Interview Committee, Elders.  This is where we discuss the job description of each committee and the elders.  Some of this information is found here: Organizing for the Search .  Here is the chart that illustrates the relationship and flow of communication:  Organizing for the Search .  It is necessary to have a clear understanding of what each group is and is not to do in the process.

12:00    Lunch.

12:45     Chain Letter. After lunch, I read a chain letter about preachers I received by email: Preacher Chain Letter .

1:00      Preacher of your dreams—preacher of your nightmares. It’s back to the drawing board for this exercise. As before, I ask each person to draw a line down the middle of the paper. On the left side, please draw a representation of the “Preacher of Your Dreams.” If you could get the perfect preacher, what would he look like? What is the kind of preacher would you want to come to this congregation? This will certainly include something about his stand for truth but also attitudes, mannerisms, and attitudes—both in and out of the pulpit. What should be his emphasis? In what areas would you tolerate weaknesses in order to have strengths in other areas?

     After everyone is finished with that, on the right side of the paper please draw the “Preacher of Your Nightmares.” What would the opposite of the “Preacher of Your Dreams” look like?

     When all are finished, we get into the circle to discuss these works of art and visualizations of our expectations of the next preacher. I allow each one to tell about their picture and their preacher.

     My final question in this exercise is, “What if the preacher of your dreams is someone else’s nightmare? How will you work with others who have different expectations of the next preacher? That is the challenge of the selection committee—whether it is the elders during the whole process or whether a group makes recommendations to the elders for their consideration before making the decision. Will each person listen to the other and will each person express their thoughts and feelings freely to contribute to the final selection?


1:30      Barber’s Bullets for Preacher Search is a collection of my thoughts and observations as I have experienced and watched this process. I express my best judgment. As always, the waste basket is available for anything not worth taking home.

1:45      Evaluation. A good way for me to learn is to do the best I know how and ask others to help me improve. In evaluating the training session, I ask two questions?

  • What did you learn?
  • How can this training be better next time?

     We conclude at 2:00 with a prayer for God to bless the process and bless us to take advantage of this opportunity to grow in our faith in God, connection to each other, and improvement in our wisdom, skills, and attitude.

Barber Bullets 1

suggestions from observation and experience about looking for a preacher

This started as a hand-out during the training workshop for the group looking for and evaluating the next preacher. These are things I’ve learned from the University of Hard Knocks. Consider what I say and feel free to use the wastebasket. Invite God to be part of this process. Remind yourself and others that His […]