I often hear, “Let’s get this church some good resumes.” My private reaction is, “Okay. Just tell me where to find those resumes!” Most churches still get flooded with resumes, but many of these resumes are the same ones being passed around over and over, they are total mismatches, and there are lots of poorly qualified candidates. Churches are in need of qualified candidates—those who are called and equipped.
The lack of pastors is driving churches to desperation. Some turn to head-hunters. Others turn to high-risk candidates, even ignoring background checks. In frustration, some turn to total mismatches in: experience, theology, and polity. Read this for a “believe it or not moment!”
Here’s the real world churches face when seeking a pastor:
- Seminaries have shrunk in enrollment.
- Few seminarians (less than half) indicate they want to work in a church, and only about 8% are considering the pastorate.
- Some formerly-trusted schools have lost their roots and do not teach what loyal supporters assume they are teaching.
- Some newer seminaries have struggled with enrollment and sometimes lose their way in questionable partnerships.
What can we do about this, if we are clergy, seminarians, or church lay leaders? We can shrug in defeat, worry about future pastors, or offer “thoughts and prayers” for the future church. Or, maybe we can do something more tangible. Here are some ideas:
- When was the last time you heard a pastor, during the invitation, ask, “Is God calling you to ministry? To the pastorate? To missions?”? Your church could begin (again) to EXTEND THE CALL!
- And let’s not restrict our vision to the young, alone. There may be middle-aged or older persons God could be calling.
- Your church could use young people, and other potential ministers, to help with ministry: reading scripture, leading prayers, sharing testimonies, making visits for pastoral care and outreach. Maybe ministry candidates could even receive occasional invitations to preach.
- Church ministers could take some time to formally mentor someone who shows promise.
- Introduce the idea of cultivating future ministers within your church. For some churches, their future pastor might already be in their midst.
- Consider, as a church, helping pay for the theological education of worthy ministers in your church or to scholarship funds entrusted schools like B. H. Carroll Theological Institute.
- Lead your church or association to partner with B.H. Carroll as a teaching church or a supporting association.
Grand Teaff, retired head coach of the Baylor Bears, often shared the adage from Edward Everett Hale: “I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.”
You may be totally occupied with your own seminary education, ministry position, or leadership role right now. But it’s never too early to begin planning and acting on addressing the critical shortage of qualified pastors for the future. What can YOU do to help?