Pastor Search Team Guidebook

A pastoral vacancy is unsettling for a congregation and there are few tasks more daunting than serving on a Pastor Search Team. On one hand, your congregation wants a new pastor the day after yesterday. On the other hand, you are preparing for the future of your congregation and that may take some time. So, where do you begin?

Sam Hamstra, Jr has spent over a decade helping congregations discover their next pastor. In the Pastor Search Team Guidebook, he provides a comprehensive guide to the pastoral search process. From beginning to end, this resource is filled with insightful tips and tools to help congregations navigate the challenging pastoral search process.

Pastor Search Team Guidebook
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"This book provides step-by-step instructions on how to lead a God honoring pastoral search process. Reading and discussing the key concepts in advance of the actual need will prepare the board for what inevitably happens in all of our churches - a pastoral transition. I have known and respected Sam’s work with churches for a number of years. I am thrilled to see this smart practical book come to press. A gift for the Kingdom."

Tammy Kelley
Ministry Consultant, The Unstuck Group
Senior VP Human Resources, Bethany Christian Services

"Sam Hamstra has given the church a comprehensive guide to the pastoral search process. At every stage, Sam demonstrates how congregations can use prayerful discernment to identify and call their next pastor. I highly recommend this resource."

John Messer
Great Lakes Regional Executive
Reformed Church in America

Questions to Ask BEFORE Searching for Your Next Pastor

Many congregations respond to the imminent departure of their pastor the same way they would if the principal of the local grade school announced he or she had taken a new position: the congregation immediately begins to search for a replacement. Experience reveals, however, that churches best hit the pause button as the interval between pastors is a great time for self-examination. A time for the congregation to gain a better understanding of its current situation and a vision for its next chapter of ministry. Towards that end, this book encourages you and leaders in your church to ask-and-answer simple-but-weighty questions.

Why? Because the answers to these questions will reveal what lies beneath the surface of the ministry of your congregation. Plus, thoughtful preparation will help your congregation stand out as a church that knows its mission and vision. Stand out as a church of strong and faithful leaders. Stand out as a congregation prepared and excited about a new chapter in the ministry of their church.

Questions to Ask BEFORE Searching for Your Next Pastor
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What's Love Got to Do With It?

While the heart and soul of the Christian life is love, and while the apostle Paul insists that worship without love fails to be worship, recent conversations on worship fail to answer a simple question, “What’s love got to do with it?”

In this volume, Sam Hamstra answers that question by identifying biblical principles that shape our love as worshipers. The end result is an invaluable resource for worshipers and those responsible for planning worship. You may order the book here.

The Reformed Pastor
Lectures on Pastoral Theology by John Williamson Nevin

What does it mean to be a pastor? No one has answerser that question better than the Reformed theologian John Williamson Nevin (1803–1886). In this resource, Sam Hamstra brings to light Nevin's previously unpublished “Lectures on Pastoral Theology,” a work that provides seminarians and pastors with an inspiriing portrait of pastoral ministry. To order this resource, go here.

Four Views of the Book of Revelation

Of all the books of the Bible, few are as fascinating or as bewildering as Revelation. Is the book of Revelation a blueprint for the future that needs decoding if we want to understand current events? Is it a book of powerful imagery, with warnings and promises for the church throughout the ages? Or is it essentially an imaginative depiction of historical events in the first century? Four Views on the Book of Revelation explores the four main views in which Revelation is understood: preterist, idealist, classical dispensationalist futurist, and progressive dispensationalist. In this resource, Sam Hamstra presents the idealist view.  This book, in its 18th printing, can be ordered online here.


  1. "You are Better Off Without Me" (Text: John 16:5-15)
  2. "A House is Not a Home" (Text: Acts 2:1-13)
  3. "Legalism, Licentiousness, or Life?" (Text: Galatians 5)
  4. "How's Your Fruit Growing?" (Text: Galatians 5:16-26)
  5. "Thank God for Pastors" (Text: Ephesians 4:1-16)

What Our Clients Say

Our Search Committee spent almost two years trying to find an Associate Pastor before partnering with Chapter Next.  We are extremely grateful that it wasn’t long before God used Chapter Next to help us identify the person he had in mind for our church!”

Rev. Joel Sheeres

Crown Point (IN) Christian Reformed Church

“Sam Hamstra has a unique calling in the Kingdom of God. God has gifted him to view the church landscape from a 30,000 foot perspective. Consequently, he is able to facilitate kingdom work on a grander scale than just from the local church perspective. He is a true bridge builder in the work of God.”

Pastor Al Garcia

New Life Oak Forest

“We as a team have appreciated all the work and expertise supplied for us. We have great respect for the work of ChapterNext. We needed a pastor that would come along side our current staff and strengthen the bonds between staff and congregation, encourage and support the congregation in our current ministry, and then expand our vision into the community in a Christ-like manner.  With the help of ChapterNext, we called and installed such a pastor.”

John Hamar, Chair

Visalia (CA) Christian Reformed Church Search Team

"We never hoped or even imagine that in less than nine months after we began our search for a new pastor that we would have found, called and received an acceptance letter from a young pastor and his family…. The process of searching for and calling a pastor for our rather unique church seemed daunting, so we were open to the suggestion of a member of the Search Team to contract Rev. Sam Hamstra as a Pastor Search Consultant. We can’t imagine how this process would have gone, and how long it would have taken, without him…. The synergy of the Search Committee and Sam was remarkable.  More than one committee member said that this was the most enjoyable experience they had ever had. This was, without a doubt, due in large measure, to the guidance of Sam Hamstra in the search process."

Pastor Search Committee

New Hope Church (Lansing, IL)

I have worked with many consultants and experts in the church world in my 15 years of pastoring, and Sam is one of the best I have encountered.  

Pastor Jason Nelson

Bethel Christian Reformed Church (Lansing, IL)

“We praise God for the work of Sam Hamstra and ChapterNext to our congregation and the wider body of Christ. The work of his team will accelerate any search process as they walk with church leaders to find God’s match.”

Pastor Rob Ford

First Reformed Church of Friesland

“When the idea of using an outside counselor and adviser was considered, the Search Committee was initially hesitant. Once the process started, the benefits became clear. The entire committee grew appreciative of the guidance, insights and assistance provided by Rev. Hamstra. Candidates were identified and evaluated as to mutual fit, and done so in ways that would not have been possible as a Search Committee. By the end, everyone on the Committee felt that the search process was a blessing to our church, and concluded that Rev. Hamstra was a key part of the search.”  

Bill Terpstra, Chair

Bethel Christian Reformed Church Search Committee

“Finding a new leader is a daunting task for any church. Thankfully, God provided Sam Hamstra as a gifted resource and guide for our search team. Sam’s heart for the church, his humor, gentleness, and experienced wisdom, and his toughness in the face of challenges were all tested during his engagement with our church. Sam never wavered in his trust in God to reward our process, answer our prayers, and ultimately lead us to the right person. I believe I speak for our entire leadership team when I unreservedly commend Sam Hamstra to anyone embarking on a similar task and journey.”

Doug Evenhouse, Search Committee Chairperson

Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church

Sam helped our international church find an excellent pastor in a short time frame and after we had struggled more than a year to manage the process on our own. Sam listened to us, and took the time to get to know about our unique church culture, our people, and our journey of faith. His service was invaluable to us.

Christine Little

Escazu Christian Fellowship (San Jose, Costa Rica)

“You are doing everything a Search Team should do.” Our Interim Pastor was affirming but after two years we were still searching. “The only other thing I know of is this.” He gave us information about ChapterNext. We’d never heard of a “head hunter” for pastors. But, in two years of searching on our own, we’d only had one qualified inquiry and he was still in seminary. We prayed. Did some quick fund-raising, then called in Rev. Sam Hamstra to get us revitalized in our search. He helped us jazz-up our church profile and then distributed it in a variety of ways through his wide, social-media network. Within a few weeks we had seven qualified resume’s to review. We interviewed four candidates, all were good, but we felt led to two. We did a second interview with each and felt called to one of them. There was a third interview, then a Mutual Discernment visit to our church and community to see if there was a “fit” on both our parts. There was. Two weeks later our candidate returned for a preaching visit and a meeting with the Leadership Team about duties and finances. The next week the congregation voted and we now have a new pastor! From the time we contacted Sam to the time we issued a Call barely four months had passed. ChapterNext was a God-thing for our Search Team. Sam was a pleasure to work with. He made an on-site visit to get to know us so he could determine who a good match might be for us. He responded quickly to any questions, either by e-mail or phone. A task that was taking us literally years, Sam (and God) helped accomplish in less than four months. We praise God for ChapterNext, Sam, and our new Pastor!!

Roxanne Henke, Search Team Co-chair

Faith Community Church (Wishek, ND)