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Some Thoughts and Questions on the Pastoral Search Process

Author's Note: I've served in two churches, a mother church (6 years) and a daughter church (27 years). I have been involved in the process from different sides. Here are some of my thoughts. I'm not sure that I would directly ask each and every question, but I think I'd be looking for the answers to these questions.

The Pastoral Search Process

1. As elders, are you all in full agreement with what you want of a senior pastor? If not, please explain. Are there different sets of expectations outside of the elders?

2. How many pastors has this church had in the past, and how long has each stayed?

3. Why did the previous pastor(s) leave?

4. How long has this position remained vacant?

5. Would you mind sharing with me some of the guidelines you are following in your search process?

6. Where are you looking for your candidates for a new senior pastor? (From what sources are you seeking a pastoral candidate?)

7. Have you been turned down by any candidates to whom you have offered this job?

8. How will you reach a decision as to whether or not you will invite a man to be your pastor?

9. What will some of the deciding factors be in your decision to invite or not invite a man to serve as senior pastor?

My (Your) Ministry

1. Is there a job description for the position of senior pastor?

2. What role do you expect me to play with other staff members?

3. Are there other staff members who have applied for this position? If so, why did you turn them down?

4. Is there anything I need to know about any of the staff, or their relationships with each other and the congregation?

5. What strengths are you looking for in a senior pastor?

6. What spiritual gifts are you looking for in a senior pastor?

7. What is it you are hoping I can do for this church?

8. What do you not want me to do for this church?

9. How do you want me to function, as compared with the previous pastor(s)?

10. Is there anything you haven't told me, that I really deserve to know?

11. What kind of preaching are you looking for?

12. What do you consider as expository preaching?  Who are a few preachers who you feel are good examples of Bible exposition?

13. What is the content that has been taught from the pulpit in the last 5 years?

14. How much time do you want and expect me to spend in sermon preparation?

15. How many times do you expect me to teach or preach each week?

16. How do you feel about my involvement in outside ministry (preaching abroad, serving on the board of a Christian organization, etc.)?

17. What standards will you apply to my ministry to determine whether or not it is successful and effective?

18. Do you assume that I will immediately be an elder? How do you expect me to relate to you as elders? (How do you see my relationship to you?)

The Vision Of The Church

1. Are you in full agreement as elders in regard to your vision for this church?

2. In terms of your vision regarding the mission of this church, what are your top priorities?

3. What efforts have already been made to pursue these?

4. What role do you expect me to play to help the church get there?

5. What role are you willing to play to help the church get there?

6. What do you see for this church in the future?

7. Strengths and weaknesses of the church:

8. What are the strengths of the church (things from which other churches might benefit, and thus they might ask for your advice or help in this area)?

9. What are the greatest weakness of this church (things for which you may need outside help)?

10. How has this church changed in the last 25 (you may wish to adjust this number) years? Would you call this progress or otherwise?

11. What issues have been the source of disagreement or strife in the past several years? Where do these issues stand at this moment?

12. What is the biggest problem this church has ever faced? What is the most recent problem this church has faced? How were these problems deal with?

13. Has this church ever exercised church discipline? When, and for what? How was it carried out?


1. Who are the dominant leaders in this church?

2. Put differently, what people exercise the most influence and control? Are they in formal leadership positions? (In other words are there those whose approval and support you will need to succeed, even if they are not formal leaders?)

3. Describe what a typical elders meeting looks like? What do you do? Who does it? How long do they last? How often do you meet? How are decisions reached? How do you resolve differences within the leadership when decisions must be reached?  Who sets the agenda for the elders meeting?   Who chairs the meeting?  Who can (and normally does) write checks?

4. Describe the strengths and weaknesses of each elder.

5. If you were to add additional elders, what kind of men would you look for?

6. How long has it been since you appointed a new elder?

7. How many people do you think there are who are qualified to be a leader, but are not functioning as a formal leader at this moment? (What is your pool of potential leaders?)

8. What spiritual gifts are evident and operational in this church? What gifts are not?

9. What gifts do you wish were manifested in the church, but are not at present?

Related Topics: Administrative and Organization, Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Leadership

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