Preacher Search Suggestions 2

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 how important I was.” A better way is to keep current. It may be during selection that one or more will have a good reason not to complete the assignment. Communicate to the group your intentions and reasons and give them time to adjust to your absence on the committee. Rule # 1 is to let God be a part of the process. It’s not Christian conduct to ignore the teaching of Jesus when you’re searching for a preacher—or any other time. Considerate family members don’t disappear and never explain where they went and why they didn’t show up when expected.
  • When you’re pursuing a “good preacher,” your first task is not to “hire” him. The first goal is to help you and him decide if this church is a good fit for him and you. When and if you talk with a “good preacher,” and you or he decides it’s not a good fit, you’ve been more successful than if you’d “hired” a “good preacher” that didn’t fit.

Some good eligible men don’t need to marry some good eligible women—not because either is bad or unChristian. They just don’t fit. Many good preachers don’t need to be preaching in many good congregations—not because they’re bad preachers or the churches are bad churches. They’re good. But they don’t fit. From my perspective, this is one of the first tasks of the search team and prospective preacher—determine if you fit. If you don’t fit, you’re wasting time talking about salary, insurance, vacation, number of weeks off for meetings, workshops, and lectureships, retirement plans, and whether to rent a U-Haul or call North American Moving Company.

[bctt tweet=”When you’re pursuing a “good preacher,” your first task is not to “hire” him. The first objective is to help you and he determine if this church is a good fit for each other.” username=””]
  • Remember it’s not only the preacher that’s “trying out.” The congregation is also “trying out.” Both have choices. If he’s a “good preacher,” he’s watching and investigating every aspect of this congregation just as you’re watching and investigating him.

Our family served as Shoney’s and Captain D’s mystery shoppers for six years. We ate at the restaurants once a week and filled out a form, answering questions to check the restaurant, staff, and food each week. As soon as we ate, we mailed the form to their headquarters to help them know how they were doing. They took our suggestions and made adjustments.

When we moved the next time, we made a Shoney’s Mystery Shopper form for each church where we were “trying out.” The church was “trying out” from the first contact until we completed our decision where we were moving.

Here are samples of notes I made during one move in my ministry.

Church 1

Church 2

At one church where I served as an interim, they narrowed their search to four men. They invited each of them and his wife to visit on successive Friday-Saturdays. They interviewed, showed the community, and continued their evaluation of each other.

On one weekend, the preacher stayed over on Saturday night and visited Bible classes and worship the next morning. I wasn’t aware of this, and very few in the congregation knew—just the search team who saw him. I asked the congregation the next Sunday if they were aware they were “trying out” the previous Sunday. I told them one of the four top preacher candidates was present. He was watching and listening, observing singing, praying, friendliness or unfriendliness, the condition of the building and grounds, and getting on-site impressions of what kind of church this was and whether there was a fit. Often search teams go to a prospective preacher’s congregation, observing him. It’s also valuable for a preacher to do this. I call this “equalizing the pressure.”

[bctt tweet=”During a search, both the preacher and the church have choices. Both are trying out.” username=””]

What suggestions do you have to help in searching for a new preacher?


(Visited 91 times, 20 visits today)
Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

4 Responses to “Preacher Search Suggestions 2

  • Sister Julia Davis
    7 years ago

    The church evaluations are something I would expect from the ‘world’ not a Church of Christ.

    Important church evaluations are Spiritual not perfunctory…

    Does this congregation:
    -Have the right belief system
    -Do they actually know how to get and stay Saved
    -is the COC practicing Biblically
    -are they non Institutional or Institutional
    -how much could my preaching/teaching impact their walk with Christ
    -are they stagnant in their Evangelistic efforts
    -do I need to address my evaluation of where they need to change and see if my efforts toward the same would be welcomed or rejected.
    On and on, etc

    Julia Davis
    Church of Christ

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      7 years ago


      You make good points. If I visit a church, I’ve tried to learn most of those things before the visit. I talk with preachers for the past 25 years, present and former members, and other Christians in the area. I check their references. If I learned that we weren’t doctrinally compatible or they weren’t teachable during the visit, I wouldn’t have written a report because I would not consider working with them.

      Thank you for your comments.

  • Joe Wiggins
    7 years ago

    Unfortunately, the congregation I work with now leanred the hard way what can happen if you don’t check out the previous congreations where a candidate has worshipped and served. ALWAYS check someone’s past, going beyond just the references he provided. DIG DEEP into someone’s past, including whether they have been a uniter or a source of division and controversy in past congregations.

    Also, INSIST on audio or video sermons as part of the resume. Some of the quality of preaching out there is very, very poor.

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      7 years ago


      Thank you for responding.

      Truth sets us free—positive and negative. If it’s good, it will be good after investigation. This applies to churches looking for preachers and preachers considering churches.