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 side of the interview, what I want to know, I’ll be half-prepared. That will come across when the other party begins to ask questions. I need to prepare a repertoire of responses to every question I may be asked by the other person(s).
- The purpose of the interview isn’t to “get the job” or “hire this good preacher.” The purpose of interview-evaluation is to see if we fit. There are many good preachers and many good congregations that don’t need to be together. They don’t fit. They may be equally righteous and faithful. But they don’t fit. There are many good men and good women that don’t need to be married. They are good Christians following Jesus. But they don’t fit each other.
- Each of the interviewing parties should be equally eager to give and receive critical information that will help the other make a good decision.
- Both the church and preacher are trying out. Both have choices. Either can reject the other. If one wants to work together and the other doesn’t, they don’t fit. It takes two to make a match. It takes one to reject an offer.
- The best time to get a divorce is before you get married. If there’s anything that would be a disappointment and deal breaker, it’s better to come out during the interview than six months after the new preacher has moved and someone is surprised — the church or the preacher.
- Faith grows through creative doubt (Mark 9:23, 24). Ask what you need to know and check with independent sources to sustain or question answers during the interview. Read the post on Checking References.
- An excellent principle of the search process:
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12, NKJV).
Church to Preacher
The general principle: ask what you need to know to make a good selection of the preacher and church. Ask enough to discover what you like about the other, what you don’t like, and whether you can put up with what you don’t like to enjoy what you like.
You’ll find (click on tabs at the top of the page or download PDF or Word files on the links below):
- Phone Interview.pdf; Phone Interview.doc.
- Pulpit Minister Interview Questions.pdf; Pulpit Minister Interview Questions.doc.
- Minister Interview Summary.
- Letter to Applicant.pdf; Letter to Applicant.doc.
- Letter of Regret.pdf; Letter of Regret.doc.
In addition to these questions, I suggest:
- Discuss media involvement on Facebook, Twitter, other media. Exchange friendship, follows, and check the past year of posts.
- Discuss how the preacher deals with political issues, your philosophy of the Christian and government, and how it should be handled from the pulpit, in classes, bulletin, and on social media.
- Ask about sermon preparation. What % of your sermons come from preparation from scratch, what % from reworked sermons of lessons heard on the internet, lectureships, etc., and what % copies from internet sources such as Sermon Central.
- Ask about previous involvement in pornography in print, on the internet, movies, or other sources, and how he guards against this. This is a problem for many ministers: Here’s How 770 Pastors Describe Their Struggle with Porn. If you decide this is unimportant, be prepared to deal with an angry, depressed preacher who will have to be right on every issue, or who’ll have to change everything his way to grow and please the Lord, and could have sexual issues acted out with members of the congregation. To prepare for this question, practice with all members of the Search Team and elders in case the preacher prospect is interested in the same issue with you (Matthew 7:12).
You may find these questions inadequate for your needs. Delete the questions you think are unnecessary, add questions you think are vital, and you’ll have an ideal list for your search.
I suggest a practice session before your first interview. I did this with one interim congregation. I was the preaching candidate. They asked me their questions. I answered. I asked questions a preacher might ask.
Preacher to Church
If you’re on the Search Team or if you’re an elder interviewing a prospective preacher, what will he ask you?
For a sample of questions four preachers have used, click on Questions for Elders.
Questions by three preachers (click on tabs at top of page or download PDF or Word files on links below):
- Dale Jenkins.pdf; Dale Jenkins.doc.
- Bryan McAlister.pdf; Bryan McAlister.doc.
- Jeremy Houck.pdf; Jeremy Houck.doc.
- Chad Landman, 25 Questions Every Youth Minister Should Ask.
You may find these inadequate for your needs. They ask the wrong questions. They don’t ask the right questions. Delete the unnecessary questions, add vital questions, and you’ll have an ideal list for your search.
What suggestions do you have for an evaluation by both parties that will lead to a good fit?
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