Questions to Ask the Search Committee and Elders

One of the purposes of the interview is to get to know each other.

I like a quote from Wade Hodges’ book about the search:

I know how easy it is for both the church and the prospective minister to emerge from a search process with unrealistic expectations of each other. The best way to clarify expectations is to ask good questions. This doesn’t always happen because some ministers show up at the interview wanting the job so badly they subconsciously avoid the best (and hardest) questions. Some young ministers want to ask the right questions, but lack the experience to know what to ask (When to Leave: How to Know It’s Time to Move On (Before You Stay Way Too Long)…Before You Go: A Few Sneaky-Good Questions Every Minister Must Answer Before Moving to a New Church, by Wade Hodges, Copyright © 2012 by Wade Hodges, Kindle Locations 954–957). #ad: https://amzn.to/47BbGPP

I came across an article on the internet last week that prompted some excellent questions to discuss.

The following questions are adapted from Questions for a Prospective Rector Candidate to Ask the Search Committee, by Neal Michell, October 24, 2023

  1. How long have you been a member of this congregation? What attracted you to come here? What keeps you here? The answer to these questions will give the candidate a sense of what attracts people to this church and how the church might have changed over the years.
  2. Tell me three things going well in this church. Tell me three things that can be improved. As leaders in the congregation, these people will have the most acute understanding of the general health of the congregation, as well as the beginning of a to-do list for the new preacher. The candidate should ask what recommendations they suggest to improve or remedy those shortcomings.
  3. What do people say about this church at the local coffee shop? This question asks about the reach or influence of the church in the community. If the candidate has time before meeting with the search committee, consider going to a local coffee shop and grocery store and ask for directions to the church building. Does the community know the church is in this community?
  4. Who are the heroes of this church? Why are they remembered fondly? These questions give the candidate an understanding of what the church values.
  5. What stories can you tell me about this church at its best or when you were most proud of it? This question speaks to the vision of this congregation and reveals when the church was living into its vision. Members may not be able to articulate their vision, or they may have a vision statement. Still this question will reveal whether their vision statement accords with their self-understanding of God’s divine purpose for this church.
  6. What have been the major arguments in the church in the past decade?

Adapted from Questions for a Prospective Rector Candidate to Ask the Search Committee, by Neal Michell, October 24, 2023

For more tools and suggestions for church and preacher searching, The Search

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Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

2 Responses to “Questions to Ask the Search Committee and Elders

  • Chuck Morris
    8 months ago

    Jerrie,
    Thank you so much for your work. These questions and insights are so valuable. Having worked in only 4 congregations over the past 28 years, I think back to how I would loved to have heard these answers. As a minister, I also pray that God uses me in a good way to be a part of God’s great stories that they will tell the next guys. Thanks again for your ministry.

    • Chuck,

      Thank you for reading and responding.

      The challenge is to know the questions to ask and the courage to ask them in a good way.

      It has taken me years to grow in that direction.