6 Questions You MUST Ask the Pastoral Search Committee


6 Questions You MUST Ask the Pastoral Search Committee

Being interviewed by a pastoral search committee can be a nerve-racking experience and grueling process, and rightfully so. The church considering you as their next pastor wants to exercise patience, trust the Lord, and, select the right candidate for the position.

Not only is it essential for the church to be wise in their decision and ask the right questions, but it’s also necessary for you, the pastoral candidate, to interview the church, too.

You may be acquainted with the church interview you, and you may know a few people. But, unless you're involved with the church, then you may not be aware of its inner workings. So, it’s a good idea to lift up the hood of their car so to speak to ask some questions to help you see below the surface.

The questions below will you to collect the information you need to make the best decision you can for you and your family. 

#1. Why did the previous pastor leave?

If you ask this question, then be clear at the beginning that you’re not interested in gossiping or slandering anyone. Let the search committee know that you’re only interested in learning why the previous pastor resigned.

When the search committee is responding to this question, listen to the following:

  • Did he leave to pursue a new opportunity?
  • Did he and the church have unresolved conflict?  
  • Did members or leaders of the church force him out?

If the previous pastor left on good terms, great. That’s good to know.

Now, if there were issues that led to the previous pastor resigning or being fired, then be cautious—especially if it’s an ongoing problem. You don’t want to walk into an uncleaned mess.

#2. What is one thing that must be changed in your church? What is one thing that must not be changed? 

The point of these two questions is to see if you can glimpse into what’s essential for the church. What’s important to the church? What’s not important? See if you can get more than one person to answer these questions. More than one response will help you to get a complete picture.

#3. How would someone who’s not a member of your church describe your church? 

Do you desire to reach the community you serve with the gospel? Then the answer to this question will let you know if the church has the same goal.

See if you can have someone on the search committee share with you what a non-member has said about their church. Asking for feedback from a non-member is a great way you can get an unfiltered opinion.  

If the search committee does not have a solid answer to this question, then their church may not be active in their community.

#4. Who would you consider to be an unofficial leader in your church? How do the members of your church look to him or her for direction?

 Most churches have formal and informal leaders.

Churches will have elected or selected deacons, elders, and staff who take on roles of leadership. What is more, many churches will also have unofficial leaders who influence the opinions of others.

When the search committee answers this question, do you gather that the influence of these unofficial leaders is positive? Or, do you think their position will lead to division?

The answer to this question doesn’t have to be black and white. But, if you do receive and accept a call to serve this church, then you’ll have a better idea on how to lead the church.

#5. What is your congregation looking for in their next pastor?

Did the search committee survey the church? Did they have informal conversations with members to see what they’re looking for?

The search committee may have produced a formal job description. But what the members of the church are looking for may differ from what’s on paper. Be sure to nail down any discrepancies between the two or to identify pros and cons with their expectations.

#6. How is the church’s financial situation? 

Is the church experiencing a decline in giving

Has the church experienced a recent increase in giving

Knowing the church’s finances will let you know if you’re walking into a stable or unstable situation. Do they foresee a budget crunch? Will you have to make financial changes when you arrive to help them meet their year-end budget? Or, is the church’s finances in good shape? 

Are you interviewing for a pastoral position? What questions would you ask? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Expert Tips on How to Effectively Launch a New Online Giving Tool

Make it accessible so people can give in the way that is most comfortable to them. Don't make it hard for people to give money.
Some people like to give online, some like mobile, some like text. Whatever they like, let them give in that way if you can.
Brady Shearer
Talk about it every single week. Consistently promote it on every platform. 
Be patient. We all resist change.
Michael Lukaszewski
Launch it to your staff, your leaders, and your volunteers (in that order) and help those groups use it before you launch it publicly.
Teach it in your new member class.
Allow for people to sign-up right on the spot via their mobile phone (or through a laptop or iPad for those that don't have a mobile device handy).
Justin Dean
On launch weekend, have volunteers and staff accessible with iPads to walk people through how to set up an account and get recurring giving configured.
Daniel Irmler
On a regular basis, tell stories from members who are using and loving it. 
You don't don’t need a big production value shoot. Keep it simple by using an iPhone (horizontal) and a decent mic.
Invite your congregation to take out their phones and download the mobile giving app right in the service.
Nik Goodner
Explain the why behind the change and highlight the benefits of the new system. 
People like to be "on the team".
Kevin Ekmark
I always tell people, "you need to clean your house before you invite friends over". It's crucial that your giving platform is easily found, whether it's on the web or in the church. 
On the web, making sure that your website is mobile friendly (Google and Bing both recommend mobile responsive design) can be a huge help. You can also incorporate bots from Facebook or a service like Intercom to help walk people through online giving on your website. When necessary, a human can jump in and help too. This helps complete the process from being found online to completing the online giving.
Logan Fields
Tell them the real reasons. Giving members are concerned with what's best for the church and not just what they individually prefer. Transparency.
"This platform will allow us to better manage finances and spend less staff time on the books and more on people." etc. The temptation is to treat members like consumers who we need to impress instead of team members. Treat them like equals who you assume are interested in what's best for the church/ mission and people will likely rise to it.
Kenny Jahng
Launch a $3.16 campaign. Ask people to all give just $3.16 to a weekly or bi-weekly blessing fund. Then, pick one person or cause to bless IN TOWN and go give that person all the money collected.
  • It could be the all volunteer firefighter squad in town. "We'll take all the $3.16's collected and go buy a meal or treat and drop off for the firefighters who volunteer."
  • It could be a widow the church knows about - bless her with something new for her home or hobby or pets.
  • Single mothers - supply them with a night out. Or pay for a house cleaner or a handyman for a couple of hours.
  • Special needs families - pay for evening out for the parents and child care for the special needs kids so the parents get a break.
  • You can ask for "sponsors" in the future, getting people to nominate good causes (let the youth do this!) and let them deliver the blessing and report back each sunday.
  • You can ask for "sponsors" in the future, getting people to nominate good causes (let the youth do this!) and let them deliver the blessing and report back each sunday.
This works incredibly well because you are teaching generosity / outward posture to your people on a consistent basis and getting people to give on mobile- while making it about PARTICIPATION vs AMOUNT. You'll have people regularly trying out the mobile option as well as pre-register them in the system.

There you have it! Some amazing tips, right?

Which tip stood out the most to you … or looked to be the craziest?! Share with us in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!


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6 Questions You MUST Ask the Pastoral Search Committee


Tithe.ly powers mobile, text, and web giving for
churches and ministries.

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