Forming Your Pastor Search Team

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Leaders of local congregations have discovered that a strategy is but words on paper until they appoint and expect a person or group to make it become a reality. When assigning responsibility for an initiative congregational leaders usually take one of three options: the assign it to an employee or to a volunteer or to a committee of volunteers.

When leaders of local congregations decide to call a new pastor, they typically take the third option and assign the responsibility to a committee of dedicated volunteers. With that decision made, they must now form a team of individuals gifted with wisdom and discernment, and also gifted with the capability of engaging in mutually beneficial dialogue. In other words, they team should not include individuals who are either always negative or always positive. They need wisdom to discern the best from the better and the better from the good, as well as the good from the  bad.

With those guidelines in place, here are five steps to creating an effective committee or team of volunteers. We will by pass the option of asking congregants to volunteer by raising their hands.

First, choose your chair person. Begin by selecting the person in your congregation who you believe would best lead the committee towards the completion of its task. Undoubtedly, this person will be a person of influence in and respected by the congregation. Once this person agrees to serve, you are ready to move on to the next step.

Second, select two or three individuals who, because of their wisdom, position in the church, expertise in a particular area, or influence, must be on the team. One of these individuals will most-likely be a representative from the Lay-leadership Team (Elders) of your congregation. Another may be a leader of a ministry most directly impacted by the decisions of the committee.

Third, ask the Chair Person to contact those selected in Step 2. If they agree to join the team, ask the Chair Person to determine a bi-weekly meeting date. Perhaps, for example, the team will agree to meet at the church every other Monday night from 7-9 PM for one year. The completion of this step is crucial before proceeding to the next. You want the core of your committee or team to make a commitment to meet on a regular basis.

Fourth (or perhaps before Step Two), now that you have your chair person and key players on the committee, it is time to determine who will not be on the team. The big question is usually whether the Senior or Lead Pastor should be on the team looking for a staff member or successor. There is no standard answer to that question. If the team has been assigned to search for a new Lead Pastor, the team will have to decide whether or not to include the Associate Pastor of the congregation. That decision will most-likely be based on whether or not the Associate wants to candidate for the position.

Fifth, now it is time to add members to the team. These are strategic selections based on demographics and involvement in the ministry of the church. If, for example, you are forming a search team for a Youth Pastor, you may want a High School student or a parent of teenager or a volunteer in the High School ministry or all three on the team. So you select a first and second choice for each of those slots. Then, you ask your Chair Person to invite each of your first selections to serve on the team which will “meet every other Monday night from 7-9 PM for one year.” If the person responds “I would love to  serve but can’ t meet on Monday night,” the Chair Person responds, “Thank you for your willingness, but…”  and makes a call to the second selection. The key here is to not waver on the predetermined meeting time. A committee or team can only be effective when it meets on a regular basis. Better to have a team that meets than a team of great people who seldom meet.

In the end, you will have a team of perhaps six to ten people, half men and half women, some young and others old, some veteran members with a small number who are relatively new to the church.  Of course, the unspoken member of the team will be God the Holy Spirit who dwells in the hearts and lives of each person on the team. The presence of the Spirit will encourage and embolden the team to fulfill its mandate.

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