Many pastor search processes lack skill on the side of the search team, but did you know that candidates often collaborators with the search team in the list of mistakes? If you are a candidate, you might want to avoid some of these common issues.
A. You need to be honest about your pastoral skills, giftedness, and experience. Lacking something the church needs might mean you aren’t the best candidate, true, but you could “grow into the position.” Covering up the truth for the sake of getting the job can end disastrously for all. Instead, you might have to take the initiative in asking discerning questions about the church’s condition and needs.
B. You need to do your own background investigation on the church’s history and situation. The fear of learning something distasteful often motivates the search team AND the candidates to not do their homework, less they learn something that might end the discussion. Information, however, often doesn’t kill deals. It just allows the candidates to arrive with a fighting chance because they already know the challenges. So, to understand the problematic background in a church, you must do your own background check on the church using outside sources.
C. Have you thought about your answer for when a search committee asks you, “What does God want us to do?” Or they may say, “What is your vision for our church?” In truth, can anyone answer that question at that moment? There are two inherent problems to both the question and to answering it at that moment. The first problem is the mistaken belief that a pastor can discover the vision working in a silo. The hard work of involving leaders, and even the whole congregation, will develop a vision with congregational ownership and commitment. The other problem is when pastors learn ONE vision for a church (from a book, a class, a seminar, etc.) that they believe must work for every church no matter what the situation. It is not your duty to tell your new church what God’s vision, purpose, and mission are for the future. It’s your duty to help them figure it out together and to do it.
The bottom line is that you have the same duty as a search team, when you are exploring a possible call to that church: to be honest, to do a thorough background check, to seek a good fit, and to work together to understand the future. You see, it’s not about getting a job, it’s about finding and doing God’s will.