It is pothole season in the Midwest, that time of the year when those driving cars best keep their eyes on the road so they may avoid major cavities waiting to dent one or more of wheels. And it’s always pothole season when a pastor search team begins its work. The road before the team includes many potholes they want to evade. Here are three.
First, beware of the resume pothole. Resumes serve an important role in the search process but search teams review them looking for predetermined elements. As a result, they often overlook outstanding candidates who do not fit their limited understanding. In other words, they limit their search to those who fit their expectations when God ʺis able to do far more abundantly than all that (they) ask or thinkʺ (Ephesians 3:20).
Second, beware of getting too emotionally connected with a candidate. Having sat in on countless interviews, I have watched pastor search teams connect with some candidates more than others. Human nature is such that this is expected. However, connectivity between a search team and a candidate may cause the search team to ignore or minimize more important pastoral qualities, such as personal character and competency.
Third, beware of the pothole of misunderstanding your congregation. In the past five years or so, I have had the privilege of working with over 50 search teams. That experience has taught me that few pastor search teams have an accurate understanding of their congregations. A few view their congregation and community as the hopeful destination of hundreds of candidates, which is seldom, if ever, the case. Many more suffer from low congregational self-esteem by forgetting their identity as the beloved of God the Father, the bride of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Spirit. These congregations must embrace their identity and, as a result, work with confidence founded, not in themselves, but in the Lord who loves their congregation more than they ever can or will.
I am sure there are more potholes on the road to discovering a congregation’s next pastor, but these three are often overlooked and, thereby, lead to unforeseen accidents.