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

  1. 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 their best recommendation. Take their suggestion. Have him try out. If everything looks OK, offer him the work that night before he accepts an offer from another congregation.
  2. “Beauty contest.” Assemble a list of many good preachers. Invite them in to speak on successive Sundays. Give members a reply form. The one most members like, invite him to be your next preacher unless there were red flags during the interview.
  3. Elders serve as the selection group. They decide on a method of search. The elders go ahead with as many as they like, interview, check references, come to a conclusion with or without input from the congregation, and select the new preacher.
  4. Elders involve a group(s) to help in the selection process. I’ve seen this done three ways:
    1. Begin with a Selection Committee. This group receives resumes, asks for recommendations, makes phone interviews, and presents the Interview Committee with four names. The Interview Committee invites the four men and wives, to come to town for a Friday-Saturday visit for more detailed observation and interviews. An elder meets with this committee to keep the elders informed and up-to-date on the progress and prospect. This group recommends a preacher who comes to meet with the elders. If they find him qualified and a fit, he becomes the next preacher. Another possibility, which I recommend: the pick of the preachers visits with the understanding the congregation will have a voice in the invitation of the elders. I’ve known of churches who omitted this step and selected a preacher with a shady past. After he comes to the church and repeats past indiscretions, members say, “I could have told you so. But you hired him, and you gave us no opportunity to comment.”
    2. Have a Selection Committee who does the tasks of the two committees mentioned above. They narrow the field to four and makes recommendations to the elders. The elders invite the four men and wives for their interviews and interaction. They select one man to be considered for the work. That man comes to preach. They ask the congregation to give comments.
    3. Have a Selection Committee do all the work, invite the four men, decide on the best man, present him to the congregation, and receive a response from the group after his visit. The elders meet with him during his visit for try-out.

Whatever the method, there should be a clear understanding of the role of each person and group.  Develop written descriptions of the authority and expectations of each person in each group about what is and is not expected. Those expectations should be communicated to the congregation. Understand many will not listen, not understand, and forget. That’s the reason it needs to be written and repeated over and over during the search process.

Prayer to God for wisdom should precede, saturate, and follow the search for the new preacher.

What have you seen helpful in selecting a new preacher?

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4 thoughts on “The Search 1

  1. Much attention has been placed on “selecting” the new preacher and I like what you’ve posted here. Entirely too often though I think churches have the idea that what they have is a “buyers’ market.” In other words, they can have their pick. No matter what method they choose, they get to choose. After all, the preachers are looking for jobs. They will be glad to take whatever is offered. But more and more that’s not true. Churches are finding good candidates who are turning them down — and often for incredibly insightful reasons. I am hearing of churches going a year or more without a preacher, not because they can’t find someone, but because no one wants to go to their congregation.

    • Mike,

      Excellent observation.

      One of the first things I tell a church when I enter as an interim is that the church is “trying out” as much as the preacher is trying out.

      Both church and preacher have choices.

  2. Along with communicating the selection process clearly and repeatedly, the Elders should give the congregation clear expectations for the role and responsibilities of the incoming preacher. Will the role change or stay the same as before? What will be the relationship between the new preacher, the elders, and the congregation moving forward? Will it be pulpit ministry only, or include grief/marriage/visitation/youth involvement/teaching/missions, etc. Will the preacher manage personnel or have other administrative responsibilities? A well written and well defined job description helps put everyone on the same page and manage expectations for all parties-especially in a relationship-based role like this one.